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MQM's jailed Waseem Akhtar takes oath as Karachi mayor

Updated August 30, 2016

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MQM's Waseem Akhtar at the oath taking ceremony. ─ DawnNews
MQM's Waseem Akhtar at the oath taking ceremony. ─ DawnNews

KARACHI: Jailed Karachi Mayor and Muttahida Qaumi Movement leader (MQM) Waseem Akhtar and deputy mayor Arshad Vohra, also of the MQM, took oath at Bagh-i-Quaid-i-Azam on Tuesday.

Akhtar opened his speech with a slogan of "Long live Muttahida, long live Bhutto and long live Imran Khan."

Karachi Mayor Waseem Akhtar and Deputy Mayor Arshad Vohra at the oath-taking ceremony. ─ DawnNews
Karachi Mayor Waseem Akhtar and Deputy Mayor Arshad Vohra at the oath-taking ceremony. ─ DawnNews

"We have to set aside our differences," Akhtar said, addressing PPP's Bilawal Bhutto and Asif Zardari.

"After eight years, Karachi has a mayor, a deputy mayor, a chairman and a vice chairman. We will have to work together for the betterment of this city and this province."

"We know Karachi is plagued by a number of issues. These problems are our problems," Akhtar said, requesting all those elected to set aside their differences for the progress of the metropolis.

He called on diplomats and businessmen to aid him in this endeavour. "I need your help to fix these issues [faced by Karachi]," he said.

"But unfortunately, I am in jail... These are all false charges. After taking oath, I have decided to move a bail application in court. And I am sure I will get justice... As soon as I am released from jail, I will meet you in your offices and take guidance [from you], and meet people from different walks of life. And of course, with all the political parties that have contested the election for this city," he said.

"There were many hurdles. We are taking oath today, after nine months [whereas] London's new mayor assumed office in just four hours."

"On the lighter side," he quipped, "It is almost as if this was a cesarean child. It was not a normal delivery. Let's hope for the best."

After stepping away from the mic, Akhtar once again took to the podium to express support for the MQM and Farooq Sattar. "We will work together for Karachi and Sindh," he said.

His statement comes just days after Sattar announced the MQM was dissociating itself from party chief Altaf Hussain and the London office following Hussain's anti-Pakistan speech which sparked violent protests in Karachi.

"Long live Karachi, long live Sindh, long live Pakistan," he said.

Read more: MQM in uncharted waters as Sattar ditches Altaf

Karachi's new mayor also thanked the citizens of Karachi, his own party members, and members of the PPP, PML-N, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and Jamaat-i-Islami, who participated in the election.

Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) Commissioner Samiuddin Siddiqui administered oath to the mayor and deputy mayor.

Akhtar is among four mayors and 200 chairmen of as many municipal bodies across Sindh who took oath of their offices today.

That Akhtar would be able to take his oath remained uncertain even in the hours before the ceremony as his attendance depended on a production order allowing him to do so.

District and Sessions Judge (South) Imdad Hussain Khoso withdrew an order he had issued on Monday in this regard as he did not have clearance from the Sindh High Court to administer oath at the ceremony.

Almost immediately, a returning officer for the KMC then requested jail authorities to produce the jailed mayor-elect and arrange security so he could attend the oath-taking ceremony.

Akhtar is the first person in the country to have won the mayoral election from prison with a comfortable margin against his rival candidate pitted by a six-party alliance formed to contest against the the MQM.

The MQM leader has been in prison since July 19 after an Anti-Terrorism Court dismissed his pre-arrest interim application in a case for treatment of terrorists, will run the metropolis via “video link” from his prison cell.