PPP ministers removed from Punjab govt

Islamabad: All seven PPP ministers in the coalition government in Pakistan`s politically-crucial Punjab province have been removed after the ruling PML-N ended its alliance with the party.

Governor Latif Khosa on Monday signed an advice sent to him by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif for the removal of the PPP ministers from the provincial Cabinet.

After the Governor`s signature, the seven PPP ministers — Raja Riaz, Tanveer Kaira, Neelam Jabbar, Ashraf Sohna, Tanveer Rana, Haji Ishaq and Farooq Yousuf Ghotki — were no longer part of the Punjab Cabinet.

Former premier Nawaz Sharif, the chief of PML-N, decided last week to end his alliance with the PPP, saying its government at the centre had failed to act on a 10-point reforms agenda.

President Asif Ali Zardari, also the chief of PPP, had hinted on Sunday that his party did not want to dither on the PML-N`s move to eject the PPP ministers.

Zardari felt that any delay by the Governor in signing the PML-N advice would be counter-productive, the Dawn newspaper quoted its sources in the PPP as saying.

He discussed with Khosa the "new role" the Governor would have to play in the changed situation and asked him to take on the PML-N leadership head on instead of issuing "friendly" statements.

Before sending the advice to the Governor, Chief Minister Sharif removed 13 parliamentary secretaries from the PPP.

During a meeting with Governor Khosa and Interior Minister Rahman Malik in Karachi yesterday, Zardari said the PPP will uphold the rule of law and the Constitution.

He advised the Governor to proceed in accordance with the Constitution.

The leaders discussed the political situation in Punjab after the PML-N`s decision to relieve PPP ministers from the provincial cabinet.

The PPP has criticised the PML-N for joining hands with dissidents from the PML-Q, a party established by the military regime of former President Pervez Musharraf, to prop up the government in Punjab.

The strained relations between the PPP and the PML-N, Pakistan`s two main political parties, have plunged to a new low following Nawaz Sharif`s decision to end their alliance in Punjab and triggered speculation about the PML-N being behind efforts to push for mid-term elections.