KARACHI - Federal Information Minister Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan stunned Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and her colleagues when she announced her resignation as information minister with tears rolling down her cheeks and in an emotionally chocked voice at the cabinet meeting here on Sunday at Governor’s House.

As the proceedings of the cabinet were being telecast live by the state television the people who were watching their TVs at home were also stunned like the cabinet members who were shell shocked by the unusual announcement in the cabinet meeting by information minister.

The 100th meeting of the federal cabinet was truly historic as it was being held on Sunday and on the 135th birth anniversary of the Father of the Nation Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah which the information minister chose as the time and place to announce her resignation never seen before in country’s history.

Cabinet ministers usually resign behind the scene and only after their resignations are accepted, the decisions are made public or ministers are eased out of their portfolios as a punishment, non-compliance of duty or incompetence.

But Dr Awan chose a unique method and time and place of her choice which shocked the already shaken government, when she sobbingly announced her resignation after declaring her unflinching support to the PPP leadership including Prime Minister Gilani and President Asif Ali Zardari. A taut silence engulfed the room where the cabinet ministers had gathered to listen to the Premier. Some of the ministers were seen holding their heads in their hands, may be in embarrassment.

She on the spot tendered her resignation which according to some sources, Federal Minister Manzoor Wattoo tore it down after getting permission from the Prime Minister.

This dramatic tragic event cast a pall over the cabinet atmosphere. Soon after the meeting, Prime Minister called her for one-on-one meeting and heard her.

Later, Ms Awan accompanied the Prime Minister to the Quaid’s mausoleum where the latter laid a floral wreath and offered fateha.

Talking to media at Mazar-e-Quaid, the minister said Prime Minister Gilani had refused to accept her resignation and assured to address all her reservations.

She said: “I talked openly and expressed my reservations to the Prime Minister. I do not want to stick to a position where problems and hurdles are created in the effective running of the affairs of the ministry.“

She said the Prime Minister had assured to address her reservations relating to her ministry. “Now I am satisfied. I always stand with party and leadership.“

“I want a position where I can deliver, perform and give relief to people. Only a fully empowered minister can perform and deliver.“

She said how could a minister deliver and perform if irrelevant persons interfere in the affairs of the ministry and try to exercise the powers of the minister. “In such a situation I cannot facilitate media and my own government,“ she added.

Dr Awan said she would never tolerate outsiders interfering in her ministry, adding that she needs a team of her own choice in the ministry to deliver well.

She vowed to continue working to implement the vision and roadmap of the party in an effective manner and is bound to obey the party’s discipline.

It was not immediately clear if she was forced to resign or she quit on her own. But her actions only signalled the growing differences within Zardari’s troubled party.

Party sources believe that Dr Awan may have been forced to resign due to her alleged failure to convincingly defend the government in the memogate scandal.

She is the third PPP information minister of the present government who has resigned.

Previously, Sherry Rehman and Qamaruz Zaman Kaira also resigned from their posts under unexplained circumstances.

Some of the party sources close to Ms Awan felt that she may have already got a hint that she may not be in the cabinet, so before she got the sack, she pre-empted the move and tried to get an honourable exit which was denied to her.

Surprisingly, Senator Babar Awan and Qamar Zaman Kaira who are not cabinet ministers were present in the meeting. Their presence may have prompted Ms Awan to make her move before she was shown the door.

She has successfully fought for her honour and clearly avoided an embarrassment that could have landed in her lap, had she been removed unceremoniously.