MQM’s Waseem Akhtar set to become Karachi mayor from jail

waseem-akhtar-mqm-karachi-mayorAug 22, 2016 (MAMOSA Report) — Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Waseem Akhtar will make history when he will be elected the mayor of Karachi — Pakistan’s mega city and its financial capital, from prison, on August 24 and run his office from behind bars.

Akhtar is expected to win hands down due to the sweeping numerical superiority of MQM, which has 214 members out of the total 308 elected members of the local bodies council of Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC).

Akhtar is in jail for over a month, and there are no prospects of his release in the near future because of a multitude of civil and criminal cases he faces.

Speaking to the media on Sunday after a court hearing, the MQM mayor-nominee said  said it is yet to be decided whether he will solve the issues of Karachi from behind the bars or outside jail after becoming the Mayor.

Akhtar was arrested along with MQM’s Rauf Siddiqui, Pak Sarzameen Party’s Anis Qaimkhani and PPP’s Abdul Qadir Patel on July 19 after the ATC rejected their pre-arrest bail applications.

Even if Akhtar succeeds in getting bail in a case or two, he will have many other charges in which he will have to secure bails from relevant courts.

Although Akhtar was arrested before the schedule for mayoral election was announced by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), his party MQM did not change its horse and retained him as its nominee in the race.

Related article: Karachi mayor, deputy mayor election delay brings MQM, PTI on same page

Once elected the Mayor, there will be many question marks on how Akhtar will effectively run the KMC being in prison. Obviously, the kind of monumental civic problems Karachi is faced with will require a dynamic, energetic and vibrant mayor, who is not confined to jail. His physical presence will certainly be needed all the time.

Akhtar was permitted to contest the mayoral election because he was not convict in any of the cases he has been charged with Even after his sentencing, he would have the right of appeal to challenge such rulings. Only after a conclusive judgment by exhausting all appellate facilities, he would be disqualified from holding the elected office, a process that will take too long to finish.

There are several instances when imprisoned federal or provincial legislators continued to hold the membership of elected forums. Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) supremo Asif Ali Zardari is one of them. Presently, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assembly member Ziaullah Afridi is in prison and keeps attending the legislative sessions after the speaker issues his production orders.

Generally, the federal and provincial speakers oblige while dealing with the production requests of lawmakers, who happened to be in jail. Mere detention on any criminal charge doesn’t lead to disqualification of an elected office holder.


(Original report appeared in The News International)

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