- The Washington Times - Friday, November 22, 2002

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan A loyalist to President Pervez Musharraf was narrowly elected as Pakistan's prime minister yesterday, effectively guaranteeing the military ruler's control over the first civilian government since his 1999 coup.
Zafarullah Khan Jamali, 58, a portly tribal elder from southwest Baluchistan province who represents the pro-Musharraf Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid-e-Azam (PML-Q), defeated a pro-Taliban cleric from a coalition of anti-Western Islamist parties and another candidate who supported former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
Mr. Jamali's victory means the future civilian government will be controlled by Gen. Musharraf, the army chief who has made himself president until 2007, analysts said.
He won 172 votes from 329 members of parliament present in the 342-seat national assembly, seven more votes than the required 165 simple majority.
At least 10 dissenters from Mrs. Bhutto's opposition Pakistan People's Party (PPP) crossed the floor to vote for Mr. Jamali, whose party was the PPP's chief campaign rival.
Gen. Musharraf temporarily suspended a ban on floor-crossing to make the vote possible.
Legislators lined up on the floor of the chamber behind the candidate they supported. One lawmaker abstained.
PML-Q candidates also won the key posts of house speaker and deputy speaker on Tuesday.
Mr. Jamali is due to be sworn in by Gen. Musharraf tomorrow, a government spokesman said.
He is widely viewed as the kind of pliant politician Gen. Musharraf is believed to have wanted as head of the next government.
Political analyst Muhammad Afzal Niazi said Mr. Jamali would have little room to maneuver, hemmed in by Gen. Musharraf's new military-dominated National Security Council on one side and a feisty opposition on the other side.
"He will have a multiparty coalition with a thin majority, which in itself is based on the support of [PPP dissenters]," Mr. Niazi said.
In his acceptance speech, Mr. Jamali pledged a policy of inclusiveness.
"I will consult everyone on internal issues. We have to join hands to have strong internal policy," he said.
He also praised Gen. Musharraf for carrying out his pledge to restore civilian rule.
"Thanks to him, God willing, the transfer of power will take place. Please be patient, be tolerant, Rome was not built in a day," Mr. Jamali said.
Mr. Jamali vowed to maintain Gen. Musharraf's foreign policy, the central plank of which is extensive cooperation with the United States in the war against terror.
"Pakistan has become a frontline state, and the existing foreign policy is good for the country and the people," he said.
The White House looks forward to working with Mr. Jamali and his new government "on a variety of issues of common interest," a spokesman said while at the NATO summit in Prague.
Qazi Hussain Ahmed, a leader of the Islamic bloc that holds the balance of power with 60 seats, foreshadowed a battle in the house about Gen. Musharraf's presidency and powers.
"I make it very clear that we will not let an individual impose his will on us. We cannot and will not tolerate it," Mr. Ahmed said.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide