Gillani sworn in as Pakistan’s new prime minister

March 25th, 2008 - 2:58 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Pervez Musharraf
Islamabad, March 25 (DPA) Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf swore in Yousuf Raza Gillani, a member of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) of slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, as the country’s new prime minister Tuesday. It was a formal and low-key ceremony one day after the lower house of parliament elected Gillani with much celebration and cheering. Gillani won 264 votes over 42 for opposition candidate Chaudhry Pervaiz of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid party.

Tuesday’s swearing-in took less than 15 minutes. Gillani was the fifth prime minister Musharraf has sworn in since he seized power in a bloodless coup in 1999.

Gillani now faces a daunting list of challenges, including soaring prices of fuel and other essential items, nationwide chronic electric power shortages, and national security issues.

Both Gillani and Musharraf were scheduled to meet with US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte and Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher later Tuesday to discuss security, among other issues.

Musharraf, a key US ally in what they term the war on terrorism, in recent months has put some distance between himself and the US. Monday he said he has not allowed military strikes in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan by the US-led forces fighting there.

Nawaz Sharif, whose Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz came in second in the Feb 18 election and formed a coalition government with the PPP, met Negroponte and Boucher earlier Tuesday, although there was no public comment about the meeting.

Sharif’s government was overthrown by Musharraf in the 1999 coup. He has called Musharraf an illegitimate leader and called for him resign from office.

The coalition government consists of Musharraf’s political rivals, many of whom have called on him to resign, and they now control his political fate.

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