Times 2

Pak government wins back majority

KARACHI, Jan 8, (AFP) -A leading political party on Friday rejoined Pakistan's coalition government in a move that restored the prime minister's majority and temporarily eased a major political crisis.

“The Muttahida Qaumi Movement announces it will sit on the government benches in the larger interest of the country and democracy,” senior MQM member Raza Haroon told a news conference with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

The announcement came five days after MQM resigned from the coalition, plunging Pakistan into fresh instability by wiping out Gilani's fragile majority in parliament and raising fears that the government could collapse.

Foreign donors have expressed concerns that Islamabad would not meet IMF targets on inflation and budget deficit levels to redress its major economic problems, made all the more urgent after catastrophic flooding last summer.

But Gilani invited the MQM back into government at crunch talks on Friday in order to restore his majority, 24 hours after caving into a key MQM demand and reversing controversial fuel price hikes. A visibly relieved prime minister said: “We welcome the MQM decision and appreciate their sentiments for democracy in Pakistan and hope our association will last long in the larger interest of the people of Pakistan.”

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