Gillani elected Pakistan prime minister

March 24th, 2008 - 11:46 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Pervez Musharraf
(Second Lead)
By Muhammad Najeeb
Islamabad, March 24 (IANS) Yousaf Raza Gillani, the candidate of a coalition led by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), was Monday elected the country’s 20th prime minister with a huge margin as Pakistan took what is seen as the final step in transition to democracy. In the one-on-one contest, Gillani received 249 votes while Pervez Elahi of the former ruling party, Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), got only 70 votes in the 342-member lower house of parliament.

President Pervez Musharraf will administer the oath of the office to Gillani Tuesday morning.

A total of 337 members were present in the National Assembly, the lower house, as some of the members were elected to more than one seat while on some by-elections are to be held next month.

The election of the prime minister was held through an open ballot and the speaker asked the members in favour of Gillani to register their votes on one side of the house while those in favour of Elahi registered their votes with the parliament secretariat on the other side.

It proved to be a token contest as Gillani was certain to win, being backed by three big parties. The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the Awami National Party (ANP) and Jamiat-e-Ulema-e Islam (JUI) of Fazlur Rehman are partners of the PPP in the coalition.

In a maiden speech on the floor of the house after he was elected for the top post, Gillani said, “I request the National Assembly as my first job to pass a resolution for a UN probe into the assassination of shaheed Benazir Bhutto.”

“Today, democracy has been restored, thanks to the great sacrifice of Benazir Bhutto,” the 55-year-old Gilani, wearing a dark suit and tie, said. Gillani was obne the speaker of the National Assembly when Benazir Bhutto was the prime minister.

“I invite all political forces to join us because the country is facing such a crisis that a single man cannot save it,” he said.

Gillani also said the National Assembly should pass another resolution to apologize to the nation for hanging of Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto, former prime minister and Benazir Bhutto’s father.

Gillani vowed to make all efforts for the supremacy of parliament. He also said he would issue immediate directives for release of the judges held in captivity.

Gillani vowed to make efforts for the resolution of problems faced by people. “We realize the people of the country confront several problems, including shortage of electricity,” he said.

Earlier, talking to mediapersons before going into the house, Gillani said he would protect the constitution, strengthen institutions and ensure independent judiciary, media and a supreme parliament.

“I will come up to the confidence reposed in me by my party and the coalition partners. We have to collectively forge ahead for steering the country out of present challenges,” he told a crowded news conference.

He, however, did not come up with a clear answer as to what his PPP had decided about the future of Musharraf, and said he would be dealt with according to the constitution.

The election of the prime minister is being considered a landmark step to take home the process of what is being described as transition towards democracy after almost nine years of military-dominated regime. Many see it a defeat of Musharraf.

“It’s a huge step to weaken the dictator (Musharraf),” Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, a leader of PML-N, told IANS.

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