KARACHI: When the cause is just, differences can be set aside. Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) followed this mantra when, in an interesting turn of events, the elected representatives of the two parties addressed the issue of the delay in elections for the city's mayor at a joint press conference on Wednesday.
MQM mayor-nominee Wasim Akhtar and PTI's elected chairperson, Firdous Shamim Naqvi, along with other elected local government representatives addressed a joint news conference at Karachi Press Club.
Akhtar urged the Chief Justice of Pakistan to take suo motu notice of the electoral situation of local bodies. He criticised the Sindh government for deliberately delaying the democratic process of local government system, which forms the base of democracy. He announced that the party is going to hold protests outside the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) offices in Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur and Nawabshah.
Akhtar said that democracy in the country only exists in name and not in its true essence. "It is an injustice to the voters that even after seven months we are not able to deliver to the public even though we have the mandate to," he said. He added that there are people at the ECP who are also involved in delaying the process of devolution of powers.
"The people can no longer bear the intolerable situation of the city where provision of water and garbage dumping are neglected by the government," said Akhtar. "While the public look towards their elected local representatives, we are still powerless."
Thanking PTI, Akhtar said that no other party supported them in this cause. "We also expect to work together with them for the betterment of the city," he said.
LG polls process: ECP sets June 8 for Sindh mayoral elections
Naqvi, a senior leader of the PTI who is the elected chairman from union council 18, clarified that the PTI supports the cause of the MQM but will not participate in their protests. "Though we have disagreements with MQM, but this is the matter of the people of Karachi and, if ECP and Sindh government have nothing to deliver, they can go home," he said. He was of the view that the fact that the election process is being delayed just because the four members of the ECP have retired is just an excuse.
Naqvi said that the city is in a dire need of a functional local bodies' system so that the problems of the city can be resolved as soon as possible. Naqvi endorsed Akhtar's view that it is an insult to voters that seven months have passed since they were elected and still remain powerless. He added that it seems as if the provincial government of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) want no one except them at the helm of the state's affairs.
Mayor elections postponed once again
The ECP once again postponed the polls of mayors and deputy mayors that were scheduled to be held on June 29 in the province.
According to the ECP, the decision was taken following the retirement of four members of the commission, whose tenure came to an end on June 12.
"As per Article 218 (3), it is the duty of this election commission to organise and conduct the election," said the spokesperson of the provincial ECP. "Since these members have retired, the election of mayors, deputy mayors and chairmen of the councils and oath-taking ceremony of councillors on reserved seats have been postponed." He added that a new schedule will be announced after the new members are inducted.
Apart from this, the ECP also postponed the by-election that was supposed to be held on June 22 in Jacobabad. The seat fell vacant after the death of PPP MPA Sardar Moqeem Khan Khoso.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 16th, 2016.
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