President Pervez Musharraf accepted Jamali's resignation and summoned a special session of the National Assembly (lower house) on 29 June  to elect a new leader of the house to replace the premier who also held the post, they said.

Jamali announced his resignation on Saturday in the wake of persistent rumours that Musharraf wants to bring in a new figure to carry out his political agenda.

He said his cabinet had been dissolved and Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, president of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (PML), has been nominated as his caretaker successor.

Hussain said he would hold the post for two months before handing over to Shaukat Aziz who served as finance minister in Jamali's cabinet.

Aziz, a former Citibank official, is architect of the country's economic policy and is considered a close confidant of Musharraf.

The election on Tuesday is seen as a formality to ascertain Hussain has the support of the house before he is sworn in as prime minister.

Nominations will be received until 2:00pm Monday and the session to elect the new leader of the house will start at 4:00 pm Tuesday, Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Amir Hussain said Sunday.

Jamali "failed to deliver political support to Musharraf to remain in uniform" 

Mohammad Afzal Niazi,
analyst

"I shall continue as prime minister till Aziz is elected member of the National Assembly" to meet constitutional requirements, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain told reporters Saturday.

"For the last many days, there was confusion in the party about the prime ministership," he said. "With this peaceful change of power, the confusion has ended."

Jamali said he was quitting to save the party and to let the system function. "I always tried my best to give comfort to the people, without hurting them."

He said his intentions were pious and his conscience was clear. "There was no allegation on me or my cabinet."

Jamali was elected prime minister in November 2002 in the first polls after three years of military rule by Musharraf, who seized power in a coup against then-prime minister Nawaz Sharif on 12 October 1999.

Analysts and commentators said Musharraf, who is also army chief, was unhappy over Jamali's inability to stem political opposition to the president.

Civilian president

Jamali "failed to deliver political support to Musharraf to remain in uniform," analyst Mohammad Afzal Niazi said.

Leading Pakistani newspapers voiced similar views. "Apparently the groups within the establishment that wanted him out were too powerful to resist," the influential daily Dawn said.

"We have gone through another charade in our long crisis-ridden political life," it said.

The opposition's multi-party Alliance for Restoration of Democracy (ARD) said Musharraf forced Jamali to quit.

Musharraf has promised to shed
his uniform by the end of 2004

"It confirms that the military remains all powerful in the country. There is the possibility that Musharraf, who draws his strength from the army, will continue in his military uniform," ARD leader Aitzaz Ahsan told reporters in the eastern city of Lahore.

Musharraf has promised to shed his uniform by the end of 2004 and become a civilian president.

But doubts have risen in recent months as to whether he will live up to his word, fuelled by pleas from some politicians for him to stay on as army chief.

PML leader and prime minister-designate Hussain, refusing to go into details, stressed that Jamali tendered his resignation with an "open heart."

"For the first time the transfer of power was completed without any dispute," Hussain said.