Jealousy behind Pakistan minister Bakhtiar's resignation: report
May 20, 2007 - 10:10:24 PM

Islamabad, May 20 - Pakistan Tourism Minister Nilofar Bakhtiar's reported resignation could have been caused by her being outsmarted by a younger woman colleague with stronger political backing, a report said Sunday.

Steady empowerment and ascendancy of Sumaira Malik forced Bakhtiar to quit, The News said Sunday.

Bakhtiar has refused to comment on the subject. Her resignation is believed to be with Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz who is currently on a tour to Jordan.

She is not willing to talk till the resignation is forwarded to President Pervez Musharraf.

Bakhtiar's removal as head of the women's wing of the Pakistan Muslim League - coincided with the adverse publicity she received and a fatwa - issued against her by clergy for being seen as hugging her French coach, a man, after a parajumping in France for charity.

She denied that she had kissed, or had been kissed by the Frenchman, but had defiantly said that she would carry out another jump, if need be, for a cause.

'Bakhtiar felt let down after she was asked to step down as chairperson of the PML two months back,' the newspaper said quoting an unnamed official.

When she was communicated this message, it had been decided that Malik would replace her.

Malik enjoys solid backing of Musharraf.

Bakhtiar knew that influential members of the formerly 'Millat Party', led by former president Farooq Leghari, merged in the ruling PML-Qaid some time ago, have prevailed upon the president and the prime minister to accord pre-eminence to Malik.

After resigning from her party, Bakhtiar realised that it would be advisable for her to quit the cabinet rather than being further pushed to the sidelines, the newspaper said.

Initially, however, she had said that she wanted to be single-minded on the 'Visit Pakistan Year' project of her ministry that has designated 2007 as such.

In the campaign for the Women's Protection Act and after its parliamentary approval, Malik had outsmarted Bakhtiar by being on the frontline in projecting and defending the controversial piece of legislation.

This highlighted her qualities that impressed the president and he desired a more elaborate role for her in the party. He wanted Malik to take charge of the women's wing of the PML.

The only direct election that Bakhtiar had contested lost in 2002 against Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, now the railways minister, from Rawalpindi. However, the PML made her a senator for a six-year term in 2006. So far, she has no plan to resign from the Senate as well, the newspaper said.

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