Parties loyal to Pakistani military ruler have routed hard-line Islamic groups in the last phase of nationwide elections for local mayors.

The result is a setback for the country's main alliance of religion-based parties, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal.

The polls are being seen as a test of General Musharraf's efforts to sideline Islamic groups and increase his own popularity ahead of national polls due in October, 2007.

In Karachi, Pakistan's biggest city, the ethnic-based pro-Musharraf Muttahida Qaumi Movement took all 18 districts, wiping out Islamic parties who formerly dominated the area.

In North West Frontier Province, religious parties won only six mayoral seats out of 24. Most were won by the Pakistan Muslim League, who also took most seats in central Punjab province.

Opposition parties allege there was vote-rigging, but the Election Commission says there were no official complaints.

Some information in this story provided by AFP.