Islamabad, Dec. 30 (Reuters): Pakistan’s new civilian government easily won a parliamentary vote of confidence today, reflecting the ruling coalition’s growing power despite the opposition of Islamic hardliners.
Parliamentary speaker Chaudhry Amir Hussain said Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali had won 188 votes in the 342-seat National Assembly.
“Consequently the resolution for a vote of confidence in Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali as Prime Minister of Pakistan has been passed,” he told the lower house of parliament. Jamali, of the pro-military Pakistan Muslim League Quaid-e-Azam, was elected Prime Minister by parliament on November 21 but was required under the Pakistani constitution to face a confidence vote within 60 days of taking office.
He is seen as staunchly loyal to Pakistan’s powerful President, General Pervez Musharraf.
Jamali’s party won 118 seats in a general election in October, and he has since formed a coalition with the support of smaller parties and defectors from the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
The government’s performance in the confidence vote reflected Jamali’s growing hold on power. In November, he won just 172 votes of 328 cast, but his coalition has since been bolstered by several more defectors from the PPP.
But Jamali dismissed Opposition charges that deputies were bribed or coerced into supporting his government.
“It was a vote of conscience... and if it (voting across party lines) is allowed in other countries, I don’t know why it should not be allowed here,” he said after winning the vote.
Nevertheless, the fragility of his coalition was demonstrated last month when one regional party temporarily withdrew its support, briefly threatening the government’s survival.
Islamic hardliners, who made big gains in the election by exploiting anger at US policies in the region, voted against Jamali today, protesting at the power still wielded by Musharraf.