ISLAMABAD, Jan 29, Reuter: Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has suffered a setback in parliamentary by-elections in the populous Punjab province although it gained ground in two other provinces.

The results did not alter the balance of power in the National Assembly, where the PPP won the most seats in a general election which returned Pakistan to democracy last November although it fell short of an overall majority.

Most of Saturday’s by-elections were held in Punjab where the PPP’s main rival, the Islamic Democratic Alliance, is already in power.

The PPP and its allies took six national assembly seats up for Contest in Karachi. It also won an additional national seat in the not the west frontier and one in Baluchistan province.

But it won only two of nine seats contested in Punjab.

The IDA took the other seven seats and its leader Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi was elected with a big Majority in a sprawling rural Punjab constituency.

Jatoi, a feudal landlord, had suffered an embarrassing defeat in his home province of Sind in November.

Most of the contests for 13 national assembly and seven provincial legislature seats, for which three million people were eligible to vote, were straight fights between the PPP and the IDA.

The PPP suffered an embarrassing loss in the Punjab provincial capital of Lahore where it lost a national assembly (lower house) seat won personally by Bhutto a little over two months ago to the IDA.

However the PPP captured a former IDA seat in the Faisalabad District of Punjab, defeating Finance Minister Mohammad Yasin Wattoo.

The IDA, a grouping of eight political parties, did not win any seat in the other three provinces of Sind, North West Frontier and Baluchistan when the final results were declared early on Sunday. Election officials said the voting, Some two months after the first party based elections after 11 years of military rule retuned Pakistan to democracy, was generally peaceful.

Some minor incidents were reported in some constituencies but polling stations did not have to be closed during the nine hours allotting for voting, Chief Election Commissioner S.A. Nusrat said in a television interview.

The IDA also captured five of the seven Punjab Provincial assembly seats up for election.

The PPP emerged as the largest party after the November vote which led to Bhutto becoming the first Woman Prime Minister of a Moslem nation.

Most of the by-elections were called either because a candidate won in more than one parliamentary constituency, as is allowed under Pakistani election rules, or because a candidate was elected to both the national assembly and a provincial legislature and cannot take both seats.

Article extracted from this publication >>  February 3, 1989