The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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New threat to Jamali govt
- Suspended anti-defection law gets fresh lease of life

Islamabad, Jan. 1 (PTI): The Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali government in Pakistan faces an uncertain future after the anti-defection law, kept in abeyance by President Pervez Musharraf, came into force today.

The law came into effect as an ordinance issued by Musharraf to keep it in abeyance lapsed last night and was not revived.

After the first meeting of the National Assembly in November, Musharraf revived the constitutional rule but kept the anti-defection law suspended to enable Jamali secure a majority.

It was only after the law was suspended that Jamali was elected with a majority after 10 members of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), headed by former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, voted for him.

The Prime Minister subsequently managed to win the vote of confidence with 16 votes as PPP members, along with members from other parties, voted for him under pressure from the government.

Besides, 21 defectors from the PPP, two from the Muttahida Majlis e-Amal (MMA) and two from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, headed by deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, voted for Jamali.

The 25 defectors, of which six have been made ministers, appear to be in trouble after the suspended law was reactivated. The law would enable their respective parties to go to court challenging their defection.

However, officials here said Musharraf has amended the anti-defection law to permit a conscience vote.

The major political parties have nevertheless rejected his amendments and taken oath under the 1973 constitution. It is now for the judiciary, which has been accused of toeing the military line, to interpret and take a stand on the constitution.

Welcoming the restoration of anti-defection law, the PPP said it would soon challenge the defections in higher courts. “From now on it will not be easy for the defectors to have a field day. They have to face the music in the courts and we hope to mount a major challenge to the Jamali govt during the Budget session” a PPP spokesman said.

Along with restoration of the anti-defection law, Musharraf has also announced elections for the Senate to be held between February 4 and 8, a week before most elected members of the national and provincial assemblies leave for Haj.

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