Pakistani election returns show a coalition of Islamic fundamentalist parties making huge gains, but no single party winning control of the new National Assembly.
With most of the votes counted, the newly formed pro-government party (Pakistan Muslim League-Q) is leading with 77 seats. The Pakistan People's Party of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto is second with 63 seats.
A coalition of Islamic parties (Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal) has won at least 45 seats, a huge leap compared to the three seats held by religious parties in the last assembly.
Religious leaders are already pledging to end Pakistan's support for the U-S-led war against al-Qaida and the Taleban in Afghanistan.
But Pakistan's junior foreign minister says he believes the election results will not change Pakistan's foreign policy. Inam-ul-Haq made the comment today (Saturday) at a regional economic meeting in Istanbul.
A total of 272 seats were at stake in the vote. The remaining seats in the 342-member legislature are set aside for women and minority communities.
Election observers from the European Union say the voting was marred by "serious flaws." At a news conference in Islamabad today (Saturday), chief observer John Cushnahan said Pakistani authorities used state resources to favor pro-government parties.
He also criticized constitutional changes ahead of elections that limit the legislature's power and strengthen the power of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.
Thursday's balloting for the National Assembly and four provincial legislatures was the first parliamentary election in Pakistan since General Musharraf seized power in a bloodless military coup in 1999.