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Pakistani PM vows to fight terror

A poster of Pakistan's new Prime Minister, Yusuf Raza Gillani, hangs outside parliament in Islamabad
Mr Gillani was sworn in on Tuesday

Pakistan's new Prime Minister, Yusuf Raza Gillani, has told parliament in Islamabad that his top priority will be the fight against terrorism.

Setting out plans for the first 100 days of his coalition government, he told MPs that "terrorism and extremism" were the country's "greatest problems".

The National Assembly endorsed him with a vote of confidence.

Mr Gillani is a member of the Pakistan People's Party, whose leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in December.

He was sworn in as prime minister on Tuesday at the head of a coalition between the PPP and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

The parties' success in the 18 February general election was seen as a blow to President Pervez Musharraf.

'Fewer perks'

"It is our first priority to bring peace to the country and fight terrorism," Mr Gillani told parliament.

The government, he added, was willing to talk to militants who laid down their arms.

Mr Gillani announced measures that could lead to integrating Pakistan's lawless tribal areas into the rest of the country, granting tribesmen political and social rights they do not currently have.

The prime minister promised to reduce perks for government ministers, a gesture acknowledging the growing economic hardships for most Pakistanis.

He announced a series of measures to relieve their plight, including urgent steps to deal with a severe power crisis.

Mr Gillani also lifted a ban on student and trade unions, abolished more than two decades ago.

Judges freed

After being approved by parliament on Monday, Mr Gillani's first move was to order the release of top judges detained when President Musharraf imposed emergency rule in November.

Freed former chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry leaves a mosque in Islamabad on 28 March
Iftikhar Chaudhry has been free to leave his home in Islamabad
The judges were dismissed just before they were due to decide on the legality of the president's re-election last year.

Dozens of judges were released during the week, including the deposed chief justice, Iftikhar Chaudhry, who had been under house arrest in Islamabad.

It is the first time in 12 years that the PPP heads a government.

Correspondents say Mr Gillani is much admired within the party for refusing to switch sides and do any deals with President Musharraf.

He was sent to jail in 2001, serving five years following a conviction over illegal government appointments.

The sentence was passed by an anti-corruption court formed by President Musharraf.

The president's opponents say it was a means of intimidating and coercing their members to join his government.



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Yusuf Raza Gillani addresses the Pakistan parliament



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