Islamabad, Dec. 14 (Reuters): An Islamic party said today it was pulling out of Pakistans ruling coalition after the dismissal of one of its members as a minister, but the government was not expected to fall.
It is impossible to stay in the coalition. We are saying goodbye to the government Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) leader Fazal-ur-Rehman told reporters after a party meeting.
The decision was taken after Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani sacked two ministers including one from JUI, Muhammad Azam Khan Swati, the minister for science and technology, for publicly trading accusations of corruption.
While the government is highly unlikely to collapse — the JUI is a small coalition partner — the move will raise fresh questions over Pakistans political stability.
The governing coalition, which faces an array of challenges including homegrown Taliban militants and a fragile economy, now holds 181 out of 342 seats in parliament, nine more than the 172 needed to maintain its majority.
Rehman said two other JUI members of the cabinet — the ministers of tourism and housing — from his party would also resign.
Gilanis government, struggling to implement reforms needed to secure the sixth tranche of an $11 billion IMF loan keeping the economy afloat, could now be distracted by political turbulence.
The IMFs programme, agreed in November 2008, is increasingly critical for Pakistan as it grapples with a widening fiscal deficit and summer flood losses of $10 billion. Pakistan plans to seek an extension of the loan programme to win more time to implement the reforms needed to secure the next tranche, a finance ministry official has said.