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Saturday, 23 November, 2002, 11:39 GMT
Pakistan's civilian PM sworn in
New Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali (left) and Islamic opposition leader Fazl-ul Rahman
The new prime minister (left) is greeted by Islamic opposition leader Fazl-ul Rahman
Pakistan's new civilian prime minister, Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali, has been sworn into office, marking the end of three years of military dictatorship.

Mr Jamali took the oath in a ceremony at the presidential palace, officiated by President Pervez Musharraf.

Mr Jamali has promised to continue President Musharraf's policies, particularly in pursuing the war on international terrorism.

The president will retain ultimate power, with the authority to dissolve parliament and sack the prime minister.

The BBC's Zaffar Abbas in Islamabad says Mr Jamali is under immense pressure from a strong opposition which wants an unfettered democracy that is free from any military control.

As he seeks to establish a stable civilian set-up, he may have to perform a difficult balancing act in trying to appease the country's powerful military as well as the opposition.

New cabinet

The new prime minister belongs to the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) party which is close to General Musharraf.

Pervez Musharraf
Musharraf's term of office now runs to 2007

In one of his first acts, he announced a 25-member cabinet, although he has not yet distributed the portfolios.

The cabinet includes four unelected advisers and several legislators who had defected from Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party.

Correspondents say that two of the advisers, Shaukat Aziz and Sharifuddin Peerzada, are expected to take up the key finance and law ministries respectively.

'Sham' democracy

General Musharraf, who took over in a coup in October 1999, promised to restore democracy within three years.

But critics say that a raft of constitutional reforms pushed through earlier this year mean that any return to civilian rule will be a facade.

General Musharraf's term as president was recently extended by five years to 2007 in a controversial referendum.

He also heads the military-dominated National Security Council, which has the final say on national policy decisions.

The PML-Q holds the largest number of seats in Pakistan's hung parliament, but analysts say Mr Jamali's government is unlikely to survive its full five-year term.

Mr Jamali was elected prime minister in the National Assembly on Thursday, scraping home with a razor-thin majority of just one.

But he had a clear lead over candidates put up by the Islamic parties and the opposition Pakistan People's Party headed by Benazir Bhutto, who lives in exile.

Political moderate

Mr Jamali, a 58-year-old father of four, is one of Pakistan's longest serving politicians and his appointment is likely to ease concerns in the West.

He is viewed as a moderate and the Islamist parties which pushed to join a coalition government after coming third in 10 October elections will now sit in opposition.

The new prime minister also made clear his support for the US-led war on terror.

"Pakistan has become a frontline state, and will remain one," he said.

He also said Pakistan was "going ahead as a respectable country".

Mr Jamali's first crucial test will come within two months, when he faces a vote of confidence in the National Assembly.

The BBC's Zaffar Abbas
"A new cabinet of ministers was also sworn in at the same ceremony"
Musharraf's Pakistan

Democracy challenge

Militant threat




See also:

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