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Punjab governor Sarwar resigns: 'I can serve Pakistan better out of office'

Updated January 29, 2015

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Sarwar had called out the government for failing to enter a partnership with the US as India had done. — NNI/File
Sarwar had called out the government for failing to enter a partnership with the US as India had done. — NNI/File

LAHORE: Punjab Governor Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar resigned on Thursday, over what he said was a failure to achieve what he had set out to do.

"I want to witness a democracy where a common man's son can get the same opportunities and rights as the elite in this country," Sarwar in a press conference today, adding that he has resigned of his own volition and not under pressure.

The moves comes days after he called out the federal government for failing to enter partnership with the United States government as he said India had done. At the press conference Sarwar said, "We have no objection to Obama’s India visit, says Sarwar, but Obama should have treated Pakistan equally and visited to express solidarity."

The government accepted his resignation, with Punjab Assembly Speaker Rana Iqbal having taken over as acting governor Punjab.

Sarwar denied any communication with the Prime Minister House, and denied reports saying that he was asked to resign.

Meanwhile, President Mamnoon Hussain has accepted the resignation of the Punjab governor.

A presidential spokesman told Dawn.com that the president, upon receiving advice of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, approved Sarwar's resignation.

The resignation was reportedly handed to the President last night, with some reports suggesting that the federal government had requested an explanation from Sarwar over his statement after which the governor handed in his resignation.

He further added that he can help the masses more effectively away from the governor house, explaining that the decision to resign had nothing to do with the Sharif brothers.

"I can serve Pakistan better out of office," he said. “I will live and die in Pakistan.”

He further said that he wants to continue to help Pakistan in creating such a society where progress can be ensured for all the masses.

"It’s time to wake up," he said, addressing political parties, adding that out-of-school children, lack of access to clean water, threats to minorities are issues plaguing Pakistan. He also vowed to campaign aggressively for local-government elections in all provinces.

Sarwar on Tuesday at a ceremony of Tehrik Istehkam-i-Pakistan had said: "It’s the diplomatic failure of Pakistan that US President Obama visited India and signed all-important civil nuclear deal with it that included some condition even against American and international laws."

Earlier: Governor sees diplomatic failure of Pakistan

US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi this week unveiled a deal aimed at unlocking billions of dollars in nuclear trade and deepening defence ties. The two allies also said they would establish several bilateral mechanisms to identify opportunities to boost business, trade and investment ties.

Sarwar had criticised the civil bureaucracy, saying they enjoyed each and every perk and privilege in the country but had contributed nothing to the nation in the last 68 years.

He had further said that polite methods to make the civil bureaucracy realise its duty had failed and now the only option left was to teach them through the use of “baton”.

The governor had said Washington should have given equal importance to New Delhi and Islamabad while making its policies for the region. He said Obama should have used the opportunity to normalise tensions in Indo-Pak ties.

The controversy surrounding Sarwar's statements and subsequent resignation comes days after Federal Minister Riaz Hussain Pirzada came under fire after making controversial remarks about Saudi Arabia — a close ally of the Sharif government.

Read: Federal minister accuses Saudi govt of destabilising Muslim world

Pirzada called upon the great powers — naming the US and Saudi Arabia specifically — to allow countries of the world to live in peace and said they should not fund terrorists or arm them.

When pressed by the government to explain his remarks, Pirzada backtracked and said the media 'twisted' his words regarding Saudi Arabia's role in destabilising the Muslim world.