Qureshi may face disciplinary action for refusing Cabinet post

 
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Lahore, Feb 13 (PTI) Former Foreign Minister ShahMehmood Qureshi may face disciplinary action for refusing thewater and power portfolio in Pakistan''s new cabinet, with asection of the ruling PPP demanding stern action against him.

Qureshi might face disciplinary action if he does notclear his position before Pakistan People''s Party co-chairmanPresident Asif Ali Zardari, a senior PPP leader told PTI oncondition of anonymity.

A section of the PPP''s leadership believes Qureshiviolated party discipline by not accepting the new portfolioduring the swearing-in of the new cabinet on Friday.

Qureshi skipped the ceremony after he learnt that hewould not be given charge of the foreign ministry.

President Zardari had to delay the oath-takingceremony for almost 25 minutes after 54-year-old Qureshifailed to turn up.

Qureshi finally informed the PPP leadership that hewas not interested in the water and power ministry.

The PPP leader said a section of the leadership wasnot happy with Qureshi for "violating" party discipline.

He said some leaders had suggested to PresidentZardari that the former minister should formally be called tothe presidency to "inquire about his behaviour".

"If Qureshi is allowed to violate the partydiscipline, it will not set a good precedent," one of theleaders was quoted as having said to Zardari.

Members of the old cabinet who were not inducted inthe new one, including Qamar Zaman Kaira and Raja PervazAshraf, have not publicly expressed their displeasure at thePPP leadership''s decision.

Another senior PPP leader said Zardari had made up hismind to give Qureshi a different ministry after his detractorsconvinced the President that Qureshi had not "defended himwell on certain occasions".

Citing a recent incident, the PPP leader said Qureshiskipped a meeting between Zardari and a US congressionaldelegation in Islamabad.

The US lawmakers wanted the immediate release ofRaymond Davis, an American official arrested for gunning downtwo Pakistanis in Lahore last month.

Zardari had wanted Qureshi, who headed the foreignministry in the PPP-led government since March 2008, to bepresent at the meeting to "convincingly" put across Pakistan''sviews on the Lahore incident.

"Later when, Zardari asked Qureshi about his absence,he said he was not invited to the meeting," the PPP leadersaid.

34-year-old Hina Rabbani Khar has been made Ministerof State for Foreign Affairs in the new cabinet.

There are reports that there will no Foreign Ministerin the two remaining years of the PPP-led government and thatKhar will look after the Foreign Ministry under thesupervision of the Prime Minister.

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