Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz on Wednesday turned down the resignation of Tourism Minister Nilofar Bakhtiar against whom a fatwa was issued by radical clerics for hugging a French paratrooper at a Paris show.
"I have not accepted her resignation," Aziz was quoted as saying by state run APP news agency after a meeting of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Q.
Bakhtiar, who was apparently miffed at being removed as the chief of the women's wing of PML-Q soon after the edict was issued against her, had said she had resigned because of the malicious criticism that followed the incident.
However, Aziz today clarified that her removal as president of the women's wing had nothing do with the fatwa issued against her by radical clerics of Lal Masjid.
Aziz, apparently in consultations with President Pervez Musharraf, rejected Bakhtiar's resignation and asked her to continue. He said Bakhtiar was needed in the cabinet and she should carry on with her duties, officials said in Islamabad.
Troubles for Bakhtiar started after clerics of Lal Masjid in Islamabad who have launched a campaign to impose Islamic law in Islamabad issued a fatwa against her asking the government to sack her after newspapers published a photograph of her hugging the para trainer at a show in Paris held to raise funds for 2005 earthquake victims.
Terming Bakhtiar's behaviour as obscene, the clerics demanded her removal from the cabinet but the minister hit back saying that the photo was misleading and she had done no wrong.