Bhutto Sacks Troubled Cabinet Minister, Appoints Former Opponent
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) _ Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto on Saturday fired a Cabinet minister implicated in a murder case and replaced him with a former opponent of her government.
Her office made no comment on the change, but an aide said it was part of a Cabinet restructuring expected since Ms. Bhutto narrowly survived a parliamentary no-confidence vote Nov. 1.
After the vote, Ms. Bhutto announced plans to reach out to moderate opposition politicans for support and to rid her 11-month-old government of controversial ministers and advisers.
Ghulam Mohammad Maneka replaced Makhtar Awan as Minister of Manpower and Overseas Pakistanis, according to an official announcement. Also sworn in were Maneka’s deputy, Makhdoom Alam Anwar, and Ghulam Akbar Lasi as deputy minister of labor.
Awan, who is sought on charges of conspiracy in connection with the slaying of two right-wing students in Punjab province.
He says he is innocent and claims the arrest warrant was politically motivated. The Punjab provincial government is run by the Islamic Democratic Alliance, the staunchest opponents of Ms. Bhutto’s governing Pakistan People’s Party.
Maneka and Anwar were also members of the alliance but switched sides in the days leading up to the no-confidence move in which the center-right opposition had 107 votes, only 12 short of a majority in the 237-seat National Assembly.
In another political development, a small but influential right-wing party that belongs to the alliance declared Saturday at the end of four days of meetings that it was fed up with Pakistan’s 11-month-old democracy.
″We have had enough of democracy,″ said Tufail Mohammad, former leader of Jamaat-i-Islami, considered to be one of Pakistan’s best organized political parties.
″The country needs God-fearing people, righteousness and not democracy,″ Mohammad told about 60,000 people who converged on Lahore, the capital of Pakistan’s eastern Punjab province.
Jamaat’s leadership has often warned that Pakistan risks the wrath of God by allowing a female to lead a Moslem country. Ms. Bhutto was sworn in last December after her party won the largest bloc of votes in the first free polls in more than a decade.
Her predecessor, Gen. Mohammed Zia ul-Haq, died in August 1988, when his plane crashed, killing all 39 on board. It brought to an end 11 years of military rule in Pakistan.