ISLAMABAD / KARACHI, July 4: Dr Aamir Liaquat Hussain, the minister of state for religious affairs, on Wednesday resigned his office as well as his National Assembly seat on the orders of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), sources in the party told Dawn.

The sources said Dr Aamir had submitted his resignation to Speaker Chaudhry Amir Hussain.

The sources said the party had taken ‘this extreme decision’ after taking note of the minister’s ‘hard line and controversial statements’ on Salman Rushdie and the Lal Masjid stand-off.

Earlier this week, Aamir Liaquat said during a television interview that Salman Rushdie should be killed for blaspheming the Holy Prophet (pbuh) in his book, Satanic Verses.

The sources said since the MQM felt the statement was in conflict with the party’s policy, Dr Aamir was asked to resign. However, in his resignation letter, he stated that he was resigning because of ‘personal reasons’.

Moreover, the sources said, the minister had been unable to ‘serve his constituents’ and was not giving ‘sufficient time’ to his constituency.

They said the party had been receiving complaints against Dr Aamir for the past few months, but had not taken any action only because he was the son of Sheikh Liaquat Hussain, an MQM stalwart.

Dr Aamir is the fifth MQM MNA to have been asked to tender resignation since the 2002 election.

The four others were: Sarkaruddin (NA-240), Sultan Ahmed Khan (NA-243), Haji Azizullah Brohi (NA-246) and Shamim Akhtar (elected on women’s quota).

A source close to the MQM said one probable reason for

Aamir Liaquat’s resignation was that as he was expected to take up a new assignment as the head a television channel, the party concluded that he would not be able to serve voters in his constituency.

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