Female Pakistani Minister Resigns Over Hug

Pakistan’s woman tourism minister tendered her resignation today after hardline Islamic clerics accused her of obscenity for hugging her instructor after a charity parachute jump.

Nilofar Bakhtiar, the Federal Minister for Tourism, was pictured wearing a brightly coloured jumpsuit and hugging her instructor after a tandem jump to raise money for child victims of the earthquake that struck Pakistan in October 2005.

The images provoked the wrath of clerics in Islamabad, who accused Bakhtiar of posing in an obscene manner and violating the Islamic moral norms.

A religious court set up by the clerics at a radical mosque in Islamabad issued a fatwa, or religious edict, against Bakhtiar when the photographs first appeared in local newspapers last month.

They urged the government to punish her and fire her from the Cabinet. Bakhtiar failed to win the support of Cabinet colleagues and the government appeared to cave in to the demands of the militants.

As she announced her intention to resign today, Bakhtiar complained of a campaign of intimidation against her.

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