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RAWALPINDI, June 1: Former federal minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed has finally parted ways with the Pakistan Muslim League-Q and set up his own party after withdrawing his candidature for the by-election for National Assembly’s NA-55 seat.

He announced at a press

conference here on Sunday that his party would be named Awami Muslim League (AML) and that he had resigned from the membership of the PML-Q of which he was a senior vice-president.

He said he foresaw a change taking place in the country during the current month.

He said he feared that a crisis was round the corner because of the economic decline which had not been taken seriously by the newly elected leadership and people were becoming desperate.

The former minister said he did not expect the government to last long because the situation was serious and the atmosphere was charged with uncertainty.

He said he had reversed his decision to contest the by-election because of people’s lack of interest in the process and the deteriorating law and order situation.

He said his constituency had gained international fame after his defeat in the general elections and everybody was interested in contesting the by-election from there.

However, since Rawalpindi was an easy target for terrorists, candidates had begun withdrawing, he said.

He said he had decided

to withdraw from the ‘short-term’ election and support the covering candidate, Syeda Nasim Ali.

Sheikh Rashid said President Pervez Musharraf was not an obstacle for the PPP government because all issues had been settled under the National Reconciliation Ordinance and its guarantors were around.

He said the stock exchange had crashed and the dollar accounts of some leaders had appreciated by 15 per cent while people with rupee accounts had become poorer by 15 per cent.

He said that two parties were united against the president but they would get involved in confrontation with each other when he (the president) was out of the way.

He said that people had started selling property and transferring money abroad, while the poor had to choose between paying the rent of their homes and arranging food for their children.

Sheikh Rashid criticised the scrapping of the Kalabagh dam project and said that the decision had not been taken by Pakistan People’s Party’s founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and his daughter Benazir Bhutto.

He said the current political leadership had the support of the masses but it was not capable of delivering.

He said those sitting in the Prime Minister’s House and chief ministers’ houses did not have the authority to take any decision.

He said he wanted to play a decisive role in fighting PML-Q’s case in the public in a better way but he was not allowed to do so by some people in the party, thereby forcing him to part ways with them.

He said he had decided to form the new party to translate the vision of the Quaid-i-Azam into reality, defend the ideology of Pakistan and represent the aspirations of the people.

Sheikh Rashid said that after a long political struggle he had realised that people’s problems had not been solved and they had remained ‘voiceless’.