Arbab Ghulam Rahim, a member of the southern province's assembly from the ruling Pakistan Muslim League, secured 98 votes on Wednesday in the 168-seat assembly after opposition parties boycotted the session complaining of central government interference.

   

Rahim, who stood unopposed, was elected after the former chief minister, Ali Muhammad Mahar, resigned on Monday following the latest wave of political violence in the provincial capital Karachi.

   

"My first priority will be to restore peace and improve law and order," Rahim told the house after being elected.

   

"Suicide bombings are taking place from the United States to the holy land of Saudi Arabia. Those who carry suicide attacks are very strong people. But I will try to stop them,"  he said.

 

Blasts

   

May's violence in Karachi included two separate human bombings at Shia Muslim mosques and the killing of a prominent pro-Taliban cleric from the majority Sunni Muslim sect.

   

"My first priority will be to restore peace and improve law and order"

Arbab Ghulam Rahim,
chief minister, Sindh province

Police have blamed the violence on Islamists trying to undermine the government.

 

President Pervez Musharraf had hinted at political changes in Sindh following the violence.

   

Karachi, Pakistan's commercial capital and chief port, has long been riven by political, ethnic and religious violence.

   

But the US-led war on "terror" has added more volatility to the mix. Over the past two years, Islamists have attacked Western targets in Karachi in revenge for the US-led ousting of the Taliban in neighbouring Afghanistan and Pakistan's support for the US-led campaign.

   

Daniel Pearl, a US reporter for the Wall Street Journal, was kidnapped and murdered in Karachi. Human bombers killed 26 people in attacks on the Sheraton Hotel and the US consulate. Pakistani rebels, linked to al-Qaida have been convicted over several of the attacks.