Minister sacked after maligning army, CJ
By Ahmad Hassan and Saleem Shahid
ISLAMABAD / QUETTA: Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani on Saturday sacked Abdul Qayum Jatoi, the federal minister for defence production, after summoning him to the PM House for an explanation over a bizarre outburst against the Chief Justice of Pakistan and adjudging his defence as feeble.
The prime minister had taken very serious notice of the vitriolic attack by his cabinet minister and had summoned him to Islamabad immediately, according to the PM House sources.
Mr Jatoi fired the broadside, which even an opposition leader would find too hot to own up, against the high and mighty after meeting Talal Bugti, son of the late Nawab Akbar Bugti, at his Quetta residence.
The minister went so far as to hold the army responsible for the assassination of Benazir Bhutto and Nawab Bugti. “We provided the Army with uniform and boots not to kill their own countrymen, kill Nawab Sahib (Bugti) and Benazir Bhutto.”
Mr Jatoi did not stop here.
He came up with a laughable suggestion that corruption should be shared by all. “All groups – Sindhi, Pakhtun, Baloch, Seraiki and Punjabi — should get an equal share in corruption.”
Mr Jatoi did not baulk at slandering even Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, the chief justice. He alleged that the Chief Justice had a ‘fake’ domicile of Balochistan since he hailed from Faisalabad.
Sources said that Mr Jatoi rushed back after receiving the prime ministerial summons, having a brief meeting with him in the evening where he made a vain attempt to defend himself.
In a statement after coming out of the meeting with Mr Gilani, Mr Jatoi said: “The statement that I gave in Quetta was my personal point of view. I did not intend to humiliate or insult any national institution.
“I have tendered my resignation from the ministry on the advice of the prime minister.”
According to a PM House official, Mr Gilani seemed extremely angry with Mr Jatoi’s outbursts which, in his view, were bound to aggravate problems for his government. A number of PPP leaders seemed to distance themselves from the minister’s harangue. The party’s information secretary, Fauzia Wahab, Senator Faisal Raza Abidi and Rashid Rabbani termed the comments his own views and the later even demanded his removal from the federal cabinet.
Ms Wahab went to the extent of saying that Mr Jatoi might have given such a statement at the behest of ‘someone’.
Nawab Talal Bugti, chief of his own faction of Jamhoori Watan Party, his son Mir Shahzain Bugti and other party leaders were present when Mr Jatoi made the unusual remarks before a group of journalists in Quetta.
Recalling the 2006 killing of Nawab Bugti, Mr Jatoi said all those who were responsible would have to account for their action, recalling that “Mir Zafarullah Jamali, ex-chief minister of Balochistan Jam Yousuf and former governor Owais Ahmed Ghani” were part of the Musharraf government when “our elder Nawab Bugti was assassinated”.
Talking about accountability, Abdul Qayyum Jatoi said accountability should be conducted without discrimination, alleging that at present only the PPP was facing the stick.
In reply to a question, he said there would be no bitterness if all state institutions worked within their
limits. “A clash always starts when a state institution crosses its limits,” Mr Jatoi said.
The minister asserted that Pakistan People’s Party was not afraid of “boots” because it was a voice of the poor.
“The PPP has rendered sacrifices for democracy. Our blood is always spilt on the streets. We shall keep fighting against invisible, undemocratic forces although we know we are weak.”
In reply to a question, Mr Jatoi said that the government had granted an extension to Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani because “we are in the midst of a war against terror and change in mid-stream is never advisable”.
About former president Pervez Musharraf, he said he would be arrested if he returned to Pakistan and would have to face cases registered against him.