ISLAMABAD, May 20: Tourism Minister Nilofar Bakhtiar has confirmed that she has sent her resignation to Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz against the backdrop of a controversy over here paragliding jump in France, but said she would go public about the reasons only after meeting Mr Aziz.

Talking to Dawn on Sunday, Ms Bakhtiar dispelled an impression that she had been asked by the prime minister to resign under pressure from the Lal Masjid administration.

She said she had been hurt by the way her adventure in France had been sensationalised. “French media praised my daring attempt but unfortunately some irresponsible elements in Pakistan presented this noble cause in a malicious manner,” she said.“Whatever I did was well within the realm of faith and patriotism. I had para-jumped for a noble cause during my stopover in France -- charity for the quake-devastated areas of northern Pakistan, and all I got in return for the maiden glide was a congratulatory pat on my shoulders from the 60-year-old instructor,” she said.

“I can assure you neither of us meant any harm to cultural or societal norms. It is not un-Islamic or unpatriotic to jump from a plane with a parachute, as the clerics have indicated in their fatwa,” she said.

Ms Bakhtiar was recently replaced as chief of the women’s wing of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League. Sources say a group within the party managed to engineer her replacement by Youth Affairs Minister Sumaira Malik taking advantage of the controversy.

Meanwhile, president of the Alpine Club of Pakistan, Nazir Sabir, in a letter, urged the prime minister not to accept Ms Bakhtiar’s resignation in the interest of promotion of tourism in the country.

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Karachi diary

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If govts could focus a bit more on infrastructure and transportation, the heart of Pakistan would be able to pump a lot more life and activity.

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