Zafarullah Khan Jamali was elected the 21st Prime Minister of Pakistan by the newly elected Parliament on November 21, 2002. President General Pervez Musharraf administered the oath to the new Prime Minster at the Aiwan-i-Sadr on November 23. He now heads Pakistan’s first civilian government after three years of military rule of General Pervez Musharraf.
The October elections resulted in a political deadlock as no party won with an overall majority. This led to the delay in the appointment of the Prime Minister. The President did not call the National Assembly session until the creation of PPP’s forward bloc and the floor-crossing law was held in abeyance. Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal, Shah Mahmud Qureshi of the Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians and Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali of Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid-i-Azam) were the main contender for the seat of Prime Minister. Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali won by securing 172 votes out of 329 votes, against 89 bagged by Maulana Fazl-ur-Rahman and 70 by Shah Mahmud Qureshi. Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali was however, able to get the desired number of votes after 10 members of the Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians defected from the party to form their own Forward Block in order to support Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali.
Zafarullah Khan Jamali has promised to continue President Musharraf’s economic and foreign policies, particularly in supporting the ongoing international war against terrorism. He reiterated Pakistan’s support for the United States led war on terrorism and said “Pakistan has become a frontline state, and will remain one”. Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali in one of his first acts announced a 25-member Cabinet. The Cabinet includes four unelected advisers and several legislators who had defected from Pakistan Peoples Party. The PPPP dissidents for their critical support to
Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali’s pro-Musharraf Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid-i-Azam) got the top slot ministries in the Government. Rao Sikandar and Makhdoom Faisal Saleh Hayat have been given the two most powerful Ministries of Defense and Interior. Out of the ten PPPP dissidents, six have been accommodated either as full or junior Ministers.
Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali’s Government faces tough challenges ahead. He not only faces a strong opposition in the National Assembly, but also has to keep his multi-party coalition together while sharing power with President Pervez Musharraf. The President still retains the ultimate power, with the authority to dissolve Parliament and sack the Prime Minister. On December 29, 2002, Mir Zaffarullah Khan Jamali won the vote of confidence of 188 members out of the 342-seat House.
Jamali, who had plunged into politics against a dictator when he campaigned for Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah in her presidential race against Pakistan’s first dictator, Ayub Khan, is now working readily and steadily to run the Parliament as well as uphold the order of the President and the army in various areas. Jamali’s clash with either president or Army will certainly cost his saddle like the late ex-Prime Minister Mohammad Khan Junejo. It is a tribute to his pleasing personality that even the main Opposition, i.e., MMA while sticking to its own political agenda, has pledged publicly not to destabilize his Government so that the democratic dispensation takes firm roots. His pledge not to take any major step without consulting the opposition and that his opponents would not be dragged in false cases has at length led to the strengthening and functioning of â€œsustainable of democracy. Though Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali who did bear confidence of the majority in the Parliament and tried to maintain amicable terms with the most powerful President as well as the Opposition with his traits of humility and decency, could not complete his five-year term and suddenly had to resign on June 26, 2004.
This article was last updated on Saturday, February 21, 2004