Imprisoned Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Waseem Akhtar took oath as Karachi mayor on Tuesday despite staunch opposition from rival parties.
Waseem Akhtar, a former MPA, who is being held at Karachi’s central prison was brought to Polo Ground amid high security to take his oath. The tenure of the city’s last elected mayor, Syed Mustafa Kamal, ended almost six-and-half-years ago in February, 2010.
Family members of Waseem and MQM leader Farooq Sattar were present at Karachi’s Polo Ground to attend the oath-taking ceremony of mayor and deputy mayor Karachi. MQM’s Arshad Vohra took oath as Deputy Mayor Karachi.
Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) Commissioner Samiuddin Siddiqui administered oath to the mayor and deputy mayor.
Addressing the ceremony, not only did the recently elected mayor thank all institutions in the country, he opened his speech by chanting “Long live Muttahida, long live Bhutto and long live Imran Khan.”
“Despite the problems Karachi has been facing, I ensure that we will work together for the betterment of this city and the province,” Waseem said while urging Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) to set aside all differences.
“I am currently in prison but all charges against me are fake,” the mayor said during the ceremony. Waseem announced his decision to fight for justice and move a bail application in court after taking oath.
Calling on diplomats and businessmen to help him, Waseem said, “I need your help to overcome the issues faced by Karachi. I will meet people from different walks of life and take guidance.”
“The city of lights has suffered already, I will not let it suffer any more,” he added.
On winning the mayoral election on August 24, Waseem said, “It will be written in history because elections have never happened like this ever before,” he added.
Further, referring to how he will run the mayor’s affairs while being imprisoned, he said: “I will request the chief minister Sindh to either give me an office at the Central Jail or pass a law so that I can solve people’s issues.”
SHC rejects PTI petition to stop Waseem Akhtar from taking oath
The Sindh High Court on Tuesday rejected Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Faisal Vawda’s petition to bar Waseem from taking oath as Karachi mayor, Express News reported.
“A person involved in heinous crimes cannot be allowed to become Karachi mayor, that too from prison,” Vawda told journalists.
On Monday, two separate petitions were filed at the Supreme Court and the SHC against the MQM’s mayoral-nominee. Mohammad Shahid Ghouri filed a petition with the SC’s Karachi Registry under Article 184(3) of the Constitution, raising questions about whether a person involved in various criminal and terrorist cases should be allowed to hold the office of mayor.
Advocate Sharifuddin Pirzada said Waseem was elected mayor of Karachi on August 24 this year in the last phase of the local government elections. He stated that after being elected he would control the city of Karachi as its mayor, which is a matter of serious concern to the citizens of Karachi, who fear that a person involved in numerous terrorist cases and against whom numerous FIRs have been registered, mostly under sections six and seven of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997, would now be given the reins of the metropolis.
It was also argued that since the respondent was lodged in prison following the rejection of his bail in a case against Dr Asim Hussain and has been arrested in many other cases, it was impossible for him to serve as mayor from the confines of jail. It was stated that it is commonly known that the respondent had, through his party, caused disruption in the country.
Therefore, the apex court was requested to declare the respondent unfit to be sworn in as mayor and that he cannot act as mayor till the cases are concluded. The petitioner also sought an injunction to restrain the MQM leader from taking oath of the office, scheduled to be held in a ceremony on Tuesday (today).
Waseem, a former minister and parliamentarian won the mayoral poll by a landslide with 208 of the total 294 votes cast by the city’s municipal authorities, whereas Arshad Vohra bagged 205 votes and was elected deputy mayor.