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Pakistan: Religious Right Big Winner In By-Elections


Islamabad, 16 January 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Islamic radicals are the winners today in yesterday's nationwide Pakistani by-elections. Analysts say the results reflect voter discontent at the government's policy of supporting the U.S.-led war on terrorism in neighboring Afghanistan. The religious coalition of six Islamic parties won an additional three seats -- two in the federal parliament and one in the provincial legislature -- in the deeply conservative regions that border Afghanistan.

The by-elections were held to fill 29 seats in the national and provincial legislatures.

The election win for the religious coalition strengthens its hand in the National Assembly, the lawmaking lower house of parliament, where they now make up the biggest opposition bloc, controlling 83 of the 342 seats.

The by-elections also gave the pro-military faction of the Pakistan Muslim League some gains in eastern Punjab and southern Sindh provinces.

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