Local government (LG) elections candidates and political activists have denounced the government for delaying the passage of relevant legislation, thus delaying polls in Islamabad. They said the ruling elite are unwilling to devolve power to grassroots level, according to a press release issued on Thursday.
They were addressing a corner meeting organised by Awami Workers Party (AWP) supported Mazdoor Ittehad (workers’ unity) in Miskeen Colony and Musharraf Colony in Sector G-8, where a panel comprising trade unionists and activists is contesting the LG polls in union council (UC) 50.
The panel’s candidate for UC chairman, Advocate Chaudhry Qamar, said the ruling parties could not tolerate the fact that alliances of workers and youth were coming forward in the LG polls, which posed a direct threat to their power. He said that the victory of the Mazdoor Ittehad would have ensured that slums were formalised and upgraded, which was not something the officialdom of Islamabad wanted to allow.
AWP Punjab President Dr Asim Sajjad criticised the government for dragging its feet on the issue. “Islamabad has long been ruled by a clique of bureaucrats and ministers who want to maintain their monopoly. They are trying their best to prevent the elections from happening,” he said. “It has been over three months since the Supreme Court called for elections in Islamabad, yet the government has not managed to make the legal arrangements.”
“The government and the Capital Development Elections (CDA) both fear participation of the working class in the elections as they would be no longer be able to get away with their land grabbing and forced evictions,” said Shafiq Noora, a religious minority candidate in UC-50. He vowed to keep slums mobilised, not just for the elections but also against the eviction threats being made by the CDA.
The event also featured speeches from other activists and trade unionists, including UC-40 female member candidate Parveen Bibi, Pak Telecom Labour Union President Azad Qadri, Pakistan Post Trade Unionist Pervez Akhtar, Katchi Abadi Alliance Leader Chaudhry James, and Katchi Abadi Alliance Chairman and UC-70 chairman candidate Fazal Shah.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 10th, 2015.