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March 25, 2008
New Pakistan PM Frees Judges
In a further sign that President Musharraf's days in office are probably numbered, the Pakistani Prime Minister has released the judges Musharraf detained in order to keep them from ruling his re-election illegal:
In a wildly ebullient parliamentary session with a heavy anti-Musharraf mood, the new prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gillani, of the Pakistan Peoples Party, also said he would seek a formal United Nations inquiry into the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the former prime minister killed after a speech on Dec. 27. It is widely believed that a challenge to Musharraf's re-election will be submitted to the high court and this time, their ruling will stick.
“Our slain leader Benazir Bhutto sacrificed her life for the cause of democracy, and now it is our responsibility to strengthen the democratic institutions in line with the aspirations of common people,” Mr. Gillani said.
Mr. Gillani took his first steps as prime minister just after he was officially chosen by an overwhelming majority of legislators in the 342-seat lower house of Parliament. He won 264 votes while his challenger, Chaudhry Pervez Ilahi of the Pakistan Muslim League-Q, an ally of President Musharraf, received 42.
Mr. Gillani, 55, a politician from Punjab Province, was nominated prime minister by Asif Ali Zardari, the widower of Ms. Bhutto and co-chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party, over the weekend.
Gillani is keeping the PM seat warm for Zardari who needs to run for a seat in Parliament before he can assume office. He, in turn, is expected to serve only 3 years until his son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who is matriculating at Oxford, graduates and returns to claim leadership of the PPP.