ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Nov. 29 -- Pakistan's military government Wednesday appointed Shahida Jamil, a female lawyer as its law minister. The Karachi-based attorney is the first woman ever to be appointed to this post.
Although Pakistan is the first Muslim nation to elect a female prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, the law ministry was previously a post reserved for male lawyers considered "tough enough" to deal with any situation.
The job of a law minister is particularly crucial for the current military regime, which faces dozens of lawsuits for toppling Pakistan's elected government in October 1999.
Jamil will also have the unenviable task of defending the regime's legislative program before the international community, which has been urging the army to transfer power to an elected government and leave.
Jamil replaces Aziz A. Munshi, who remains Pakistan's attorney general.
Munshi was one of the first ministers to assume office after a bloodless military coup toppled Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Jamil will also hold the human rights and parliamentary affairs portfolios in the Pakistani government. The regime has already appointed a woman as Pakistan's education minister.
The military also promoted Altaf Saleem, chief of the government-run Privatization Commission, to the rank of federal minister. "The move reflects the government's commitment to the privatization drive," Saleem told reporters after his promotion.
Cash-strapped Pakistan is selling off state-run businesses to raise money to pay back the country's foreign debt.
Military ruler Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who blames previous governments for the country's economic turmoil, has pledged to revive the economy before holding elections by October 2002.