ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) disqualified on Wednesday Dr Arshad Abdullah Vohra from his position as deputy mayor of Karachi for switching loyalties and joining the Mustafa Kamal-led Pak Sarzameen party (PSP).
A petition seeking to disqualify Mr Vohra had been filed by the MQM-P, and a three-member bench of the commission had reserved judgement some two weeks ago after hearing arguments from both sides. The reserved verdict was announced by the Chief Election Commissioner on Wednesday.
Mr Vohra’s counsel, Syed Hafizuddin, told reporters that his client had been nominated for the post by the MQM-London, and explained that “he left the party because of the party’s treason”. However, he explained, “the MQM-P is a new party, and has nothing to do with the London-based” faction. He also said that Mr Vohra reserved the right to file an appeal against the decision.
MQM-P Senator Mian Attique commented that the decision was “a triumph of truth and righteousness,” adding that “floor crossing will not be an easy task from now on”. He indicated that the next deputy mayor will be from the MQM, from Karachi.
On Oct 29, Mr Vohra had announced at a press conference his decision to join the PSP, saying “I will resign from the post of deputy mayor after completing all the legal formalities.” Later, however, PSP chairman Mustafa Kamal stated in a public gathering that in the light of the ECP’s judgement on PTI MNA Ayesha Gulalai’s case, the party would not ask Mr Vohra to quit public office.
Mr Vohra was elected chairman of Union Council-49 of Karachi’s central district, before contesting polls for the office of deputy mayor. A businessman by profession, he has a doctorate degree in textile technology from the University of Manchester in the UK. He was elected twice as the chairman of the SITE Association (in 2001-02 and 2012-13) and has also served as the chairman of the All Pakistan Textile Mills’ Association (in 2005-06).
The then MQM-P convener Farooq Sattar had moved the electoral body. He pleaded that Mr Vohra had been elected deputy mayor on an MQM-P ticket but he did not relinquish office after changing loyalties towards the PSP. “Holding office despite defecting to the PSP from the MQM is illegal and unconstitutional”, he said, urging the ECP to disqualify Mr Vohra and de-seat him. According to the MQM-P leader, the party’s consultative meeting held on Nov 3 gave him the authority to pursue legal action against Mr Vohra.
Mr Vohra also faces a money laundering case. In October 2017 former MQM aide Sarfraz Merchant alleged that deputy mayor Arshad Vohra was also involved in the money-laundering case regarding the MQM-London chapter.
Published in Dawn, March 14th, 2019