Mushrraf opponents leading in Pakistani vote

( dpa ) - Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's allies were lagging far behind the opposition parties according to initial unofficial election results of the country's parliamentary elections early Tuesday, while Islamists were losing to the moderate forces.

Several news channels reported that the slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) seemed to be sweeping through the southern province of Sindh, while Pakistan's Muslim League (PML-N), headed by another opposition leader and ex- premier Nawaz Sharif, was leading in the largest Punjab province.

Preliminary results have come in for only 48 of 272 National Assembly seats, of which PML-N has won 19 seats and PPP 17, while Musharraf's ally, the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) had so far secured only five seats.

Geo news channel reported that the head of PML-Q and Musharraf's close aid Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain had lost by almost 14,000 votes in his home town against a PPP candidate.

Six former federal ministers, including a confidant of the president, Sheikh Rashid, also lost the vote by large margin. PML-Q's candidate for premiership was also blown away by what analysts call anti-Musharraf wind.

Monday's polls for the national parliament and four provincial assemblies have been described by many analysts as crucial for the embattled president's survival, as the victory of the opposition parties could lead to impeachment proceedings against Musharraf, a key US ally in the war against terrorism.

Musharraf on Monday said he would accept whichever party won and appointed the prime minister as well as won control of the four provincial governments.

"I do not want confrontational politics because confrontational politics (are) damaging Pakistan," he said.

In the terror-hit North-West Frontier Province, the Islamic parties were losing ground to the progressive and nationalist forces.

Muttahida Majlis-e-Ammal (MMA), an alliance of six parties that swept through in 2002 elections in the region while riding on a sympathy wave for religious elements due to the US invasion of Afghanistan, had gained only two seats so far in the 124-member provincial assembly.

In contrast, nationalist Awami National Party and PPP were leading with 15 and 11 seats respectively.

Even though the final results were yet been announced but sensing the trend the opposition workers had also started to celebrate their victory.

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