Pakistani minister axed for criticizing military, Supreme CourtSeptember 26th, 2010 - 8:26 pm ICT by IANS
By Awais Saleem
Islamabad, Sep 26 (IANS) Pakistan’s Minister for Defence Production Abdul Qayyum Jatoi was shown the door Sunday following his outburst against the armed forces and the Supreme Court chief justice a day earlier.
“We keep the army to fight at the borders and not to kill leaders like Nawab Akbar Bugti, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto,” he had stated while addressing the media after offering condolences to Bugti’s son Talal Akbar Bugti.
The remarks drew a huge response from the political parties and the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) also distanced itself from Jatoi. “It is his personal opinion and does not reflect the government’s viewpoint,” said Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani immediately summoned the outspoken minister to Islamabad and sought an explanation. After a brief meeting, Jatoi’s explanation was deemed unacceptable and he was asked to step down with immediate effect.
Akbar Bugti was killed in August 2006 during a military operation in Balochistan. An influential tribal leader of the region, Bugti was accused of whipping up an insurgency against the federation and his supporters have held former president Pervez Musharraf responsible for his killing.
PPP founder Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was taken into custody after a coup by former military chief Zia-ul-Haq in 1977 while his daughter Benazir, who took over the party, was assassinated after addressing an election rally in Rawalpindi in December 2007 when Musharraf was the president.
Jatoi vented his anger at the “generals for toppling the political governments after every few years to derail the process of democracy”. “We are ready to fight these boot-wallahs,” he vowed.
He accused Supreme Court chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry of “singling out PPP during the process of accountability” adding that “no other party was being targeted like this”.
“This chief justice was made a judge on a fake domicile (certificate) and now he is pinpointing politicians on charges of fake educational degrees,” he angrily said while referring to the action taken by the court on fake degrees of some parliamentarians.
Jatoi also sought to justify corruption, saying: “Everybody should have equal right to corruption”.
“Balochi, Sindhi, Saraiki, Punjabi, Pathan, they all can lay their hands on graft like the establishment”, he stated amidst the laughter of the media personnel.
Jatoi’s sudden outburst against the military and the Supreme Court has set the tongues wagging and is believed to have vitiated the already hostile political environment even further. The opposition parties have long been calling for a change in regime due to lack of governance and widespread corruption.
The sacking has been welcomed in several quarters as a timely gesture by the government that does not want a standoff with any powerful institution of the country. “Had I been the PM, I would have taken the same action,” said former attorney general Latif Khosa.
(Awais Saleem can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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