Pakistan Swears In Prime Minister
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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) _ Zafarullah Khan Jamali was sworn in as Pakistan’s prime minister on Saturday, officially ending this nation’s three-year military dictatorship.
Jamali, who has promised Pakistan’s continued commitment to the U.S. led war on terrorism, took the oath in a ceremony at the presidential palace before a large group of parliamentary leaders, diplomats, and armed forces leaders.
The ascension of the 58-year-old senior politician means day-to-day running of Pakistan’s affairs will once again be in the hands of an elected civilian government. Still, the military’s pre-eminence is all but assured.
Jamali was sworn in by President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who has been running the nation by decree since he seized power in 1999. Musharraf has promised to step back from the process of running the country, but he will stay on as president for the next five years after winning a controversial referendum earlier this year.
Musharraf pushed through a series of constitutional decrees establishing a military-dominated National Security Council to vet all important national policy decisions, and giving himself the power to dissolve parliament and sack the prime minister when he sees fit.
That scenario seems less likely with the soft-spoken Jamali at the helm. Jamali, from the pro-Musharraf faction of the Pakistan Muslim League party, has promised to continue the military ruler’s policies, especially his strong support for U.S. efforts to hunt al-Qaida terrorists and remnants of the ousted Taliban regime of neighboring Afghanistan. Many are believed to be hiding in the mountainous border region between the two countries.
Jamali is also likely to ease concerns in the West about the rise to prominence of Pakistan’s ultraconservative religious parties, who came in a surprising third in Oct. 10 elections and had been pushing to become part of a coalition government. Instead, they will sit in opposition.