The Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) on Tuesday demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, compounding pressure on the coalition government.

Maulana Fazlur Rehman made the call just hours after the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), the main coalition partner of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), announced that it was quitting the federal cabinet, although the party would not join the opposition.

“The prime minister should resign and the PPP should appoint a new one,” Rehman told reporters.

The JUI-F had walked out on December 14 after Gilani sacked one of its three cabinet ministers over a war of words with religious affairs minister Hamid Saeed Kazmi, a PPP member, who was also fired.

Their spat related to a corruption scandal reportedly implicating Kazmi’s ministry in booking accommodation for tens of thousands of Pakistani pilgrims.

“He (Gilani) has sabotaged the process of reconciliation among coalition partners and his actions have caused political instability in the country,” said Rehman.

“The government is under pressure and the president will have to take this step.”

The departure of JUIF reduced the PPP’s coalition to 185 seats in the 342-member national assembly.

The MQM says it is withdrawing its two cabinet ministers over differences with the PPP, but has yet to join the opposition. The loss of its 25 lawmakers would leave the coalition in a parliamentary minority and could bring down the government.

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