Pakistani MPs select pro-military premier

Jan McGirk
Friday 22 November 2002 01:00
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Pakistan's new parliament picked a moderate Prime Minister from the pro-military Pakistan Muslim League yesterday, roundly rejecting a pro-Taliban cleric.

Zafarullah Khan Jamali, a politician from Baluchistan, squeaked by with 172 out of the 329 votes cast, just enough to avoid a vote of confidence in January.

General Pervez Musharraf, the President who ousted the previous government in a 1999 coup, will retain the power to dissolve parliament. Critics say he has institutionalised a dubious hybrid of "martial democracy" by tinkering with the constitution.

Mr Jamali, 58, supports General Musharraf's controversial new constitutional amendments and has pledged to co-operate with Washington's "war on terror".

The politician was General Musharraf's preferred candidate. The opposition fears that Mr Jamali, who dissolved the Baluchistan assembly while he was chief minister, is liable to acquiesce to military intervention and rubber-stamp army decisions.

The former cricket captain and MP Imran Khan backed the Islamist candidate, Fazl-ur-Rahman, who came second with 86 votes.

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