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Pakistani interior minister on the way out?

world Updated: Jul 22, 2009 17:04 IST

Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik could be on the way out with the name of Raza Rabbani, a senior leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) that heads the ruling coalition, doing the rounds as his successor.

Rabbani "would be given ministry of interior" in a cabinet reshuffle that Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani is expected to undertake in the next few days while Information Minister Qamar-uz-Zaman "would retain his ministry over his brilliant performance", Online news agency reported on Wednesday, quoting sources.

Rabbani had quit in March as the leader of the house in the Senate, the upper house of parliament, but this is yet to be accepted. He had previously rejected the law portfolio that he had been offered.

A clear indication of Gilani's unhappiness with some of his ministers, particularly those who were close to President Asif Ali Zardari, came in an interview published on Monday.

"Enough is enough. I have assessed the performance of my ministers during the last one year. Now I have to make some changes according to merit, not according to somebody's liking and disliking because I am responsible for running a country of more than 170 million people," Gilani said.

No names were taken, but the "somebody" referred to was clearly Zardari, with whom Gilani has been engaged in a running turf war.

That Malik was one of the ministers being targeted was evident when the prime minister stopped the implementation of the interior minister's order laying down jail terms for Pakistanis sending anti-government - and more importantly - anti-Zardari-e-mails and SMS messages.

"I am not bothered about any e-mail or SMS because nobody is sending anything against me," Gilani added for good measure.