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Beardless nominee causes rift in Pak coalition

Peshawar, Oct. 23 (AFP): A rift emerged today in Pakistan’s hardline Islamic party alliance over the nomination of a beardless politician to the post of chief minister in a key provincial legislature.

Akram Durrani, a clean-shaven veteran parliamentarian, was named yesterday by one of the six parties in the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) as the alliance’s candidate for chief minister of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP).

But today a separate MMA party, the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), rejected Durrani who represents the fundamentalist Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI).

“Akram Durrani is not a nominee of MMA. He is just a parliamentary leader of JUI, not of the alliance,” an official JI statement said.

“It is necessary for the nominee to the post of chief minister to be recommended by the central council of the MMA.”

“The central council will recommend a person for the chief minister slot whose character and face are in accordance with Sharia.”

Under orthodox interpretations of Sharia, men are expected to grow beards. The MMA, most of whose leaders sport sizeable beards, won 47 of NWFP’s 99 provincial seats.

Six independents have since aligned themselves with MMA, giving the alliance the majority needed to form government in the province. JUI candidates won 25 of the MMA’s 47 seats, while the JI won 20.

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