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Qureshi may face disciplinary action for refusing Cabinet post

Former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi may face disciplinary action for refusing the water and power portfolio in Pakistan's new cabinet, with a section of the ruling PPP demanding stern action against him.

world Updated: Feb 13, 2011 15:58 IST

Former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi may face disciplinary action for refusing the water and power portfolio in Pakistan's new cabinet, with a section of the ruling PPP demanding stern action against him.

Qureshi might face disciplinary action if he does not clear his position before Pakistan People's Party co-chairman President Asif Ali Zardari, a senior PPP leader said on condition of anonymity.

A section of the PPP's leadership believes Qureshi violated party discipline by not accepting the new portfolio during the swearing-in of the new cabinet on Friday.

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

President Zardari had to delay the oath-taking ceremony for almost 25 minutes after 54-year-old Qureshi failed to turn up.

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

The PPP leader said that a section of the leadership was not happy with Qureshi for "violating" party discipline.

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

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

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

Another senior PPP leader said that Zardari had made up his mind to give Qureshi a different ministry after his detractors convinced the President that Qureshi had not "defended him well on certain occasions".

Citing a recent incident, the PPP leader said Qureshi skipped a meeting between Zardari and a US congressional delegation in Islamabad.

The US lawmakers wanted the immediate release of Raymond Davis, an American official arrested for gunning down two Pakistanis in Lahore in January.

Zardari had wanted Qureshi, who headed the foreign ministry in the PPP-led government since March 2008, to be present at the meeting to "convincingly" put across Pakistan's views on the Lahore incident.

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

34-year-old Hina Rabbani Khar has been made Minister of State for foreign affairs in the new cabinet.

There are reports that there will no Foreign Minister in the two remaining years of the PPP-led government and that Khar will look after the foreign ministry under the supervision of the Prime Minister.