KARACHI (Staff Report) – Muttahida Qaumi Movement leader Waseem Akhtar has made history after being elected as mayor of Karachi from prison, according to unofficial results.
MQM’s Arshad Vohra also gained majority vote in the run for deputy mayor of Karachi.
Polling process stopped at 5:00 pm Wednesday across Sindh for the elections of mayors, deputy mayors, the chairman and vice chairman of local councils.
The provincial government had taken extraordinary arrangements at all the polling stations to ensure peaceful and transparent polling process. Heavy contingents of police and Rangers were also deployed.
Elections were held in the districts of Larkana, Tando Muhammad Khan, Badin, Tharparkar, Khairpur, Sanghar, Dadu and Ghotki. Polling is also underway in all districts of Karachi metropolitan.
The biggest clash of the day was for the election of mayors and deputy mayor of the metropolis.
Waseem Akhtar, who is currently facing a trial for his involvement in the May 12 massacre, was nominated by the MQM for mayor election. Muttahida Qaumi Movement enjoys simple majority to form its government in the Karachi Municipal Corporation with 214 members out of total 308 members.
Akhtar is in jail for over a month, and there are no prospects of his release in the near future because he faces a multitude of heinous crime cases. Even if he succeeds in getting bail in a case or two, he will have many other charges in which he will have to secure such facility from relevant courts.
Among others, he has also been booked in seven terrorism cases relating to the May 12, 2007 bloodshed in Karachi, claiming more than fifty lives, when the then suspended Chief Justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, had made a bid to visit the city during Pervez Musharraf’s era. At the time Waseem Akhtar had presided over the home department of the Sindh government and his party was the closest ally of the dictator.
Although Waseem Akhtar was arrested before the schedule for the mayoral election was unfolded by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) after its completion with the appointment of its four members, the MQM did not change its horse and retained him as its nominee in the race. It did not read the message coming from powerful quarters.
Since the law did not necessitate the physical presence of any competitor, contesting such election, before the returning officer at the time of filing nomination papers, Waseem Akhtar encountered no problem in submitting his candidacy papers.
The next issue that will arise will be his oath-taking as the Karachi mayor. He will be administered oath only with the permission of the court either in jail or in the KMC office by an ECP official, designated for the purpose.