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Coalition Partner Rejoins Pakistani Government

Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani (R) and Interior minister Rehman Malik (L) arrive at the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) headquarters in Karachi, Jan 7, 2011.

A political party that left Pakistan's governing coalition earlier this week has rejoined the government after key economic reforms were rescinded.

The MQM Party, the second largest in the government, announced its decision Friday, one day after the government reversed a plan to raise fuel prices. The MQM had cited the price hike as one of the key reasons for leaving the government.

Senior MQM member Raza Haroon told a news conference with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani that his party was returning to the government "in the larger interest of the country and democracy."

Gilani told reporters that his government would postpone implementing a sales tax. Both measures were implemented under an agreement with the International Monetary Fund designed to stabilize Pakistan's shaky economy.

The government raised fuel prices by as much as nine percent on January 1. Days later, the MQM joined the opposition in protest.

The move turned Mr. Gilani's government into a minority coalition in parliament, raising fears that the government might collapse especially at a time Pakistan suffers from a crumbling economy and crippling terrorist attacks. Critics also have accused the government of failing to reduce corruption.

Pakistan is next scheduled to hold national elections in 2013 and most political groups have said they are not in favor of having earlier elections.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.