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Central & South Asia
Pakistan coalition on the mend
The MQM reverses its decision to leave government saying it had "decided to sacrifice" itself for democracy.
Last Modified: 07 Jan 2011 13:28 GMT
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani welcomes the MQMs decision to rejoin the governing coalition [EPA]

The second largest political party in Pakistan's governing coalition reversed its decision to join the opposition, restoring the alliance's parliamentary majority and saving the government from possible collapse.

Raza Haroon, a senior leader in the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), said at a news conference with Yousuf Raza Gilani, the prime minister, on Friday that his party had made the decision for the sake of democracy and the country.

Haroon said that the party had "decided to sacrifice" itself again and join the government in view of the "deteriorating law and order situation and economic conditions of our people".

The move came a day after the government announced it would reverse recent fuel price hikes the MQM had pointed to as one of the key reasons for leaving the coalition.

Despite agreeing to return to the the government coalition, the MQM has not, however, rejoined the federal cabinet.

Decision 'welcomed'

"We welcome the MQM decision and appreciate their sentiments for democracy in Pakistan and hope our association will last long in the larger interest of the people of Pakistan," Gilani said.

He told reporters he had discussed all MQM's "issues and reservations" in detail by telephone with its leader, Altaf Hussain, who lives in exile in London, and promised to work together on all future decisions.

Al Jazeera's Kamal Hyder, reporting from Islamabad,  said that when the MQM initially quit the cabinet seats "it was seen to be manoeuvering for more positions, because the MQM had been complaining that it didn’t have enough ministries". 

"[The decision] was more for the perks and the privileges and therefore it was expected that the two would come back together,” he said.

However, Hyder said that  the move was likely only "a temporary respite" for the government.

"The government is a sinking ship,” he said. "It’s already got a hole in it, the economy is mismanaged and recently the price hike that was taken back is going to be felt somewhere else." 

The MQM walked out of government last Sunday, taking its 25 MPs to opposition benches.

The move saw Gilani lose his majority in parliament and raised fears of the possibility of a no-confidence vote being brought against him, possibly forcing an early election in the country.

On Monday, Gilani said he was confident the government could maintain its majority, as he scrambled to meet with key politicians in attempts to prevent a deepening leadership crisis.

With the MQM legislators off the opposition benches, Gilani again leads a coalition that controls a slender majority of around 185 seats in the 342-member lower house of parliament.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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