Barrister Murtaza Wahab.—PPI
Barrister Murtaza Wahab.—PPI

KARACHI: City Administrator and Chief Minister’s Law Adviser Murtaza Wahab on Saturday hinted at further deferment of the Oct 23 local government elections in Karachi division saying there were administrative difficulties in holding the much-delayed polls due to unprecedented rains and flash floods in the province.

The Election Commission of Pakistan had on Sept 14 announced to hold LG elections in Karachi division on Oct 23. For the elections in nine districts of Hyderabad division, the ECP decided that the polling date will be announced later in view of flood situation there. The LG elections were earlier scheduled for July 24 but the ECP had fist postponed it till Aug 28 and then till Oct 23.

Replying to a question during a press conference held at Frere Hall, Barrister Wahab, who is also the Sindh government’s spokesman, said that the provincial government would take into consideration all realities on the ground as a large number of polling stations were required to be set up with more staff and law enforcement personnel.

“Policemen from other districts have to be deployed in Karachi for polls due to such a large number of polling stations,” he added.

Says police from other districts needed for security of polling stations in city

Barrister Wahab said that the provincial government was still deliberating upon all aspects in this regard and a decision to this effect would be taken soon. “The Election Commission will be approached accordingly after the decision,” he added.

His response came against the backdrop of reports that the provincial government had decided to approach the ECP for postponement of the Oct 23 local government polls on administrative grounds.

However, political rivals allege that the provincial government was hand in glove with a political party in the ruling coalition at Centre for getting the LG polls deferred.

Says CM rejected his resignation

To a question regarding his announcement of resignation from the office of Karachi administrator, Barrister Wahab said that he had tendered his resignation after the Sindh High Court’s restraining order on collection of the Municipal Utility Charges and Taxes (MUCT) through the K-Electric.

He said he thought he would not be able to serve the city without generating revenue for the city’s municipality. “How can I swim with my hands and legs tied,” he said, referring to the court’s restraining order.

The administrator said that the chief minister had not accepted his resignation advising him to continue work as city administrator. “My resignation was not accepted and I am bound by the orders of my party. I will continue to do whatever service I can for Karachi without personal publicity,” he added.

At the outset of the presser, the administrator said that there were conspiracies and negative propaganda against the proposed collection MUCT through electricity bills.

He said that according to figures collated from the KE, as many as 600,000 consumers paid over Rs50 million during the period of 10 days before the restraining order.

The administrator said that the court had temporarily halted the collection of municipal tax, adding that this was not a final decision.

Barrister Murtaza Wahab said that the road maintenance work was going on in all the seven districts of Karachi and people.

“Today, Karachi is moving forward under a comprehensive plan. In the past there were errors in the system of collection of municipal utility tax. I had two options either to let the same system continue under which KMC was not getting only Rs160 million or try to collect Rs3 billion annually through K-Electric,” he added.

He said that the intervention of individuals was ended through new tax collection system.

Published in Dawn, October 2nd, 2022

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