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Pakistan's New Prime Minister Vows to Fight Terrorism

  • Ayaz Gul

Pakistan's newly-elected Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has secured the unanimous approval of parliament. The legislature expressed its support for Mr. Gilani Saturday after allies of President Pervez Musharraf pledged to back him. From the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, Ayaz Gul reports the prime minister says that fighting terrorism and bringing peace to the country will be his government's top priority.

Pakistan's constitution requires a new prime minister to secure the backing of the parliament through a vote of confidence.

But the National Assembly endorsed Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani without the vote after opposition lawmakers voiced support for him. The speaker of the legislative assembly, Fahmida Mirza, announced the outcome of the resolution seeking the vote of confidence.

"[The] resolution is passed unanimously," said Mirza.

After securing the approval, Prime Minister Gilani gave lawmakers a plan of action for the first 100 days of his coalition government.

He said that fighting terrorism, poverty and unemployment will be on top of his agenda.

Mr. Gilani described terrorism and extremism as Pakistan's greatest problems and a threat to the country's existence.

He urged pro-Taliban militants blamed for a wave of suicide bombings to renounce violence and offered to hold talks with those who laid down their arms.

The militants are based in the lawless tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, where Pakistani troops are trying to uproot them.

Prime Minister Gilani promised to introduce social, political and economic reforms in the tribal areas to alleviate poverty, which he says encourages militancy.

Mr. Gilani is a member of the Pakistan Peoples Party, or PPP, whose leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in an attack in December. The PPP emerged as the biggest political force in last month's parliamentary election.

Mr. Gilani is heading a coalition government with the political party of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

The success of these parties was seen as a setback to President Pervez Musharraf. Both opposition parties have called on the president to step down from power. They have also promised to reinstate Supreme Court judges Mr. Musharraf removed under emergency rule.