The Bush administration was scrambling to pick up the pieces of its shattered Pakistan policy after the trouncing that the party of President Bush's ally, President Pervez Musharraf, received.


The United States would still like to see opposition leaders find a way to work with Musharraf in a power-sharing deal, administration officials said, but that notion appears increasingly unlikely. The White House was reaching out to victorious opposition parties, while trying hard "not to look like we're jumping on anybody's bandwagon," a senior official said.

Officials say that Musharraf remains the administration's preferred leader, considering his record of cooperation with U.S.-led counterterrorism operations, but that they would work with the new government. U.S. officials said it is too soon to tell whether U.S. goals in the region would be set back, but they expect that fighting terrorism should remain a top priority.