Islamabad, Feb 26 : A victory for secular parties over an Islamic alliance in Pakistan's frontier province will significantly aid the US-led war on terrorism, according to a senior western diplomat.
Secular parties swept the February 18 polls in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) as the electorate rejected violence and extremism in an area where pro-Taliban and al-Qa'eda forces have taken root, The Telegraph reported.
The Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), an alliance of six Islamic parties that scored a landslide victory in the 2002 elections, "had turned a blind eye" to militancy, the diplomat said.
"I would not say the result vindicated US policy, but it repudiated the MMA government whose hands-off approach led to violence spilling over (from the tribal) to the settled areas," he said.
In the elections a week ago, the Awami National Party (ANP) emerged as the largest in the province, followed closely by the Pakistan People's Party (PPP).
"Through this election, the Pashtun people have sent a message to the world that they are neither extremists nor terrorists," said Asfandyar Wali Khan, Chief of the ANP.
The Pashtun are the dominant ethnic group in the province that straddles the Afghan-Pakistan border.
The ANP, which won 10 national seats and is set to be a key coalition partner in the federal government, was targeted twice by suicide bomb attacks in the run-up to the polls that killed dozens of people.
The religious alliance had ridden to victory on a crest of outrage over the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.
Last week it was security concerns following a wave of terrorist attacks, displeasure over the mullahs' complicity in President Pervez Musharraf's rule and poor governance that turned many voters away from the Islamists.
But there are growing concerns in Washington about what the new government will mean for the "war on terror". Some fear that it may bow to popular opinion that views it as America's battle, The Telegraph reported.