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Pakistan's New PM Wins Vote of Confidence in Legislature - 2002-12-30

Pakistan's newly elected prime minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali has won a vote of confidence in the National Assembly, the lower house of Parliament.

Prime Minister Jamali received 188 votes in the 342-seat National Assembly, ensuring the survival of his fragile coalition government. The performance in the confidence vote reflects Mr. Jamali's growing hold on power.

He was elected prime minister by a single vote in November. But under the Pakistani constitution, he was required to hold a vote of confidence within 60-days of taking office.

In general elections on October 10, no political party won a clear majority in the lawmaking lower house of parliament.

Prime Minister Jamali's Pakistan Muslim League emerged as the largest force, with 118 seats.

Mr. Jamali cobbled together a coalition government with the help of smaller groups in the assembly and parliament members who broke ranks with their party. Monday's vote of confidence saw several more opposition awmakers throwing support behind the Jamali government.

Prime Minister Jamali is seen as firmly loyal to the military president, General Pervez Musharraf, who seized power in a 1999 coup.

President Musharraf agreed to hold elections and restore civilian rule within three years of the coup, in keeping with a Supreme Court order.

But before the October elections, Mr. Musharraf amended the constitution to enhance his powers, giving him the right to dismiss parliament. He also extended his term as president and army chief for five more years.

An alliance of Islamic parties, which holds 59 seats in the National Assembly, voted against Mr. Jamali on Monday, protesting what they called President Musharraf's "unconstitutional powers."