Jamali, Zafarullah Khan (Pakistan)

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Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali was elected Pakistan’s prime minister in Nov. 2002, the first premier from Balochistan. The appointment came after 3 years of military rule under President Pervez Musharraf. Jamali, regarded as a moderate, served in civilian and military regimes from the 1970s. He pursued an active foreign policy, most notably with improving relations with India and Afghanistan. Although he was expected to work in close co-operation with Musharraf, their relationship deteriorated in 2004. Jamali resigned in June 2004, nominating his party president to succeed him.

Early Life

Jamali was born in Rowjhan in the province of Balochistan in 1944, the son of Shah Nawaz Khan Jamali. His family was a key ally of Pakistan’s architect, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, and was prominent in the Balochistan Shahi Jirga (tribal council), encouraging the Jirga to join Pakistan in 1947. He was educated in Murree and Quetta, in Balochistan, and at Aitchison College, Lahore before gaining a history degree at Government College, Lahore and a history master’s at Punjab University, completed in 1965. As well as working in the political arena, Jamali was a selector for the national hockey team.

In the 1970s he joined the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and served in the government of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. He supported Bhutto’s suppression of the Balochi revolt in the early 1970s. Following a coup in 1977 he left the PPP and served at the ministry of food under the military rule of Zia ul-Haq, representing Pakistan at the United Nations in 1980 and 1991. In 1985 Pakistan returned to civilian government under the premiership of Muhammad Khan Junejo, with Jamali holding the post of minister of water and power until 1988. In that year he was appointed chief minister for Balochistan but his administration collapsed within a few weeks. Voted into the national assembly in 1993 as a member of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), he reclaimed the Balochistan premiership in 1996 when the government of Benazir Bhutto was dismissed.

In 1997 Jamali was elected senator for Islamabad. In 1999, when Musharraf deposed the PML-N President, Nawaz Sharif, in a bloodless coup, Jamali left the PML-N to join the breakaway Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid-e-Azam (PML-Q). The PML-Q maintained close relations with Musharraf and emerged as the largest party at the parliamentary elections of Oct. 2002, the first since the coup of 1999.

Musharraf amended the Legal Framework Order (LFO) to allow Jamali to stand as prime minister, since his two-term tenure as provincial governor would otherwise have disqualified him. In a parliamentary vote for the premiership on 21 Nov. 2002 Jamali won 172 of a possible 342 votes and relied on the support of several independents and 10 PPP members. Despite only narrowly achieving the absolute majority required, he significantly out-polled the candidates of the PPP and opposition Islamic groupings.

Career Peak

Jamali was sworn in on 23 Nov. 2002, ending 3 years of military rule. His cabinet included PPP defectors and unelected advisors as well as PML-Q members. Jamali affirmed his commitment to continuing the policies of Musharraf, especially co-operation in the war against terrorism. His good relations with the American diplomatic and intelligence community in South Asia reaffirmed Musharraf’s foreign agenda.

Armed with only a slim majority, Jamali struggled to maintain his government. In addition, the constitutional changes introduced by Musharraf before the parliamentary elections—and Musharraf’s controversial success in a referendum in April 2002 granting him the presidency until 2007—left Jamali accused of being a presidential puppet. As required by the constitution, Jamali’s government submitted to a parliamentary vote of confidence, which he won comfortably on 30 Dec. 2002 having gained the support of smaller parties and PPP rebels.

Jamali travelled widely in the region, cementing relations with neighbours before and during the war in Iraq in March 2003. A joint statement with India on 12 March urged a non-military solution, highlighting domestic opinion opposed to an invasion. Economic relations were strengthened by a visit to Iran in Oct. 2003. Dialogue with India followed a ceasefire on Kashmir’s Line of Control in Nov. 2003.

Jamali frequently asserted his government’s independence from the military, rejecting PPP allegations that President Musharraf’s powers to dismiss parliament and the government were unconstitutional.

Negotiations with India opened after an unofficial meeting in Lahore at the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC) summit in Jan. 2004. On a visit to Kabul later that month, Jamali promised action against militants on the Afghan-Pakistani border.

Jamali’s relationship with Musharraf deteriorated in 2004. Although seen as an ally of the president, Jamali criticized Musharraf for wearing military uniform. His observation that no previous Pakistani government had been allowed to finish its term was received badly in military circles, prompting suggestions that Jamali would be forced from office. He resigned as prime minister on 26 June 2004, nominating as his successor Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, the president of the united PML. Hussain was approved by the National Assembly and took office on 30 June. Many Pakistani newspapers criticized the departure of Jamali, describing the proceedings as a democratic sham and suggesting that he had been ousted by the president’s circle. Hussain was widely tipped as an interim leader before Shaukut Aziz, the finance minister, could assume the premiership, once he had been elected to parliament.

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