KARACHI: With less than a week is left in the local government elections of six cantonment boards in Karachi, besides one each in Hyderabad and Pannu Aqil, the election campaign has picked up momentum as major political parties as well as independent candidates are going door-to-door and holding corner meetings and rallies to convince voters to exercise their right to franchise on Sept 12.
The previous cantonment LG elections were held in 2015 after a gap of more than 15 years. In Karachi, except for eight seats won by independent candidates, then unified and Altaf Hussain-led Muttahida Qaumi Movement got 19 seats followed by the Pakistan Peoples Party that got six seats, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz five, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf four and the Jamaat-i-Islami got two seats.
This time round, all above-mentioned parties as well as Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP), PML-Functional and several independent candidates have set their eyes on the 42 seats of general councillors in the Karachi’s six cantonment boards — Clifton, Faisal, Karachi, Malir, Korangi and Manora.
Of the 42 wards, party-based elections will be held on 10 each wards of Clifton, Faisal and Malir cantonment boards; followed by five each wards of Karachi cantonment and Korangi cantonment boards and two seats of Korangi cantonment board.
More than 300 candidates are in the run; the number of registered voters in six boards is around half a million
Each cantonment board is headed by a president, who is an official of the armed forces. The general councillors would elect members on seats reserved for women, labour and minorities and one person from among them as the cantonment’s vice president.
A festive atmosphere is being witnessed in almost every city locality where the cantonment LG elections are going to be held on Sept 12.
Banners inscribed with election symbols and pictures of candidates of almost every contesting party are seen hanging on poles and buildings as was seen during a recent visit to Gulistan-i-Jauhar locality opposite Millennium Shopping Mall, part of which comes under the Faisal Cantonment.
Similar election activities are also witnessed in the Saddar area, Sarwar Shaheed Road and parts of Clifton.
Besides political activists, independent candidates are also in the run on various wards of cantonment boards and they are also engaged in door-to-door canvassing since the number of voters is much smaller than that of general election.
Major parties have set up their election offices in different cantonment boards’ limits. All political parties are taking part in the LG election with their traditional election symbols which they have displayed prominently in all these areas.
Parties finalise candidates
More than 300 candidates are in the run in Karachi and the number of registered voters touches half a million mark in the six cantonment boards of Karachi.
The final lists of candidates taking part in the cantonment boards’ LG elections have already been issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and major political parties have already announced their candidates.
On Sunday, PPP leader Waqar Mehdi released a final list of the party’s candidates according to which the party is contesting election on 39 of the 42 wards of Karachi.
While the PTI is the only party which has fielded its candidates in all 42 wards, the JI is contesting the polls in 38 wards, MQM-P in 33 wards and PSP in 28 wards.
The Mustafa Kamal-led PSP is taking part in the election for the first time since it was formed in March 2016, one year after the previous elections were held. It remains to be seen whether the MQM-P would able to maintain its previous performance in the city’s cantonments in the presence of the PSP.
Published in Dawn, September 6th, 2021