KARACHI, Sept 5: As scramble for the top slot in the cities and towns gained momentum in the final phase of the local body elections, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement has ruled out any adjustment with any group for the nazim and naib nazim slots of the city district government of Karachi but hinted that there could be adjustments in towns according to party position.
“There was no question of sharing the slots of nazim and naib nazim of the CDGK and Hyderabad district government with any group because we have a clear cut majority, but there can be adjustments in other parts of the province,” said an insider when asked to comment on the reported statement of the chief minister about possibility of adjustments with the MQM.
The Muttahida had already announced names of the candidates for town nazims and naib nazims which was a clear indication of its strength in the metropolis. It had claimed that out of 18 towns, it was in control of 14. On this premise, they stand a sure chance of forming the city district government.
But the situation was still confusing amid reports that the federal government was exerting pressure on the MQM for installing its nominee for the top slot in the CDGK. The MQM had publicly opposed any such move and claimed that it was their (MQM’s) right to decide.
MQM had down-played the issue after initial outburst but the question was why the federal government was insisting that its proxy should be heading the CDGK. The federal government representatives maintained that it was necessary because of the significance of the city as hub of business and industrial activity and development of assets to transform Karachi into a modern international city.
They maintained that Niamatullah Khan was successful because he had blessing as well as support of the federal government for infrastructure development.
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement sources claimed the Haq Parast group had won over 1,400 seats while the PPP-backed Awam Dost panel claimed over 400. Jamaat-i-Islami backed Al-Khidmat group says it has over 500 while the ANP claims to have pocketed about 100. The JUI has also claimed that it has won over 100. The JUP is claiming 80 seats while Sunni Tehrik says it has 25. PML (N) claims it had won over 80 though this claim appears exaggerated. About 100 independents have also emerged victorious.
An interesting but confusing situation has emerged following these claims made by the respective groups because it exceeds the total strength of the electoral college of 2314 in the city for the election of nazim/naib nazim.
From the MQM and government circles names of Syed Safwanullah, Babar Ghori, Wasay Jaleel, Tariq Javed, Gen Moinuddin Haider, M. Usmani, Arif Abbasi and Ahmad Maqsood Hameedi were in circulation but some of them had expressed their inability to contest. Opposition groups have not yet named any candidate but Niamatullah Khan was already in the field with a credible track record.
While the MQM remained upbeat, the opposition parties were also arraying for the final showdown. Their leaders have started working out modalities for propelling candidates on the top slots in the 18 towns as well as the CDGK.
A high-level delegation of the Pakistan People’s Party, led by its central information secretary Taj Haider, had visited Idara Noor-i-Haq after the Sindh Council’s meeting on Sunday and discussed future cooperation with local JI leader Mairajul Huda and his colleagues.
It was agreed in principle that cooperation would be extended to all those parties and groups who were opposed to the ruling party and its coalition partners. It was agreed in principle that they would support each other’s proxy in the towns and the CDGK on the basis of their respective strength. The party which had more councillors would put up candidate for the nazim slot while the other one would be given naib nazim’s slot in the towns. The same principle would be applied in the CDGK.
A follow-up meeting in this regard in which PPP Karachi chapter president Rashid Rabbani was to discuss fine tuning of the modalities could not take place on Monday because of the arrival of JI chief Qazi Hussain Ahmad in the city. It was now expected after his engagements. However, in view of the strong criticism of the party leaderships, in Sindh Council meeting, for seat adjustments with the JI in the first two phases of the local body elections the question of how long this process would continue was still unanswered.