KARACHI: The final tally of the local bodies ele­ctions held on Jan 15 — rel­eased by the Election Com­mission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday — gives the rul­ing PPP 91 seats in Kar­achi, which retains a slight edge over the Jamaat-i-Islami’s (JI) 85 seats.

However, an upcoming hearing, to be conducted by the election watchdog over complaints of irregularities in six union commi­ttees not counted in these results, could change the numbers game altogether.

The initial results had given the PPP 93 seats, followed by 86 to the JI and 40 to the PTI. Subsequent recounting and legal challenges have trimmed both the PPP and JI’s seat count, and increased the PTI’s by two.

The result of the complaints regarding irregularities in six UCs could once again change the numbers, but mainly for the JI and PPP. It may be mentioned that the JI has claimed it has docume­nted evidence of winning all six of the contested UCs, where it alleges the PPP was “wrongfully” declared the winner.

It may be recalled that there are 246 UCs spread over Karachi’s seven districts. Polling had earlier been postponed in 11 UCs due to the deaths of candidates. It then took the ECP more than a week to release the final results of 229 UCs out of the 235 contested on Jan 15.

The final results show that the two major parties — the PPP and JI — were also neck and neck at the district level. Out of the seven districts, the PPP won a majority in four while the right-wing JI emerged victorious in three.

“The PPP won a majority in four districts — Malir, West, South and Keamari — while the JI grabbed three — Central, East and Korangi,” an official said, citing the final results. “Interestingly, the JI won the most votes, as it was voted for by 429,065 people out of the more than 1.2 million in total, compared to the 361,703 votes for the PPP and the 325,875 votes for the PTI.”

The PTI, which emerged as the single largest party from the city in the 2018 general elections, with 14 MNAs and over 20 MPAs, has suffered a setback in the local bodies polls, securing third position with its 42 seats according to the final results. It also failed to secure a majority in any of the seven districts.

Others who won a mandate include the PML-N, which won seven UCs; the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), with two seats; and the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) and one independent candidate, who each won a single seat.

In Hyderabad, the PPP sees a smooth win in upcoming mayoral elections. The party won a majority there in the Jan 15 local bodies polls with 76 seats, followed by the PTI’s 37. Eight independents, two candidates from the TLP and one from the JI also won a seat.

Possible alliances

Those who have been closely watcghing Karachi’s politics and dynamics before and after the Jan 15 local bodies elections see the upcoming mayoral election as another test for the ruling PPP.

“There’s no doubt that the PPP has the majority in terms of seats. There are good chances that it will retain its position even after finalisation of all results, thanks to allies like the PML-N and JUI-F,” said political analyst Dr Tauseef Ahmed Khan.

“But I see this as the right time for the PPP to show some political grace and make a major decision. In this situation, the PPP must make a sacrifice and offer the mayorship to Hafiz Naeemur Rehman [the JI Karachi chief and its mayoral candidate]. There’s a reason for this: Hafiz Naeem represents Karachi’s Urdu-speaking community. Secondly, he built his entire campaign over Karachi’s issues, which attracted an overwhelming response. It would be a good partnership in terms of both politics and the city’s development.”

A PPP-JI partnership would be in a position to deliver the city and both parties could get political mileage from their performance, he said.

However, he was more cautious about the prospects of a JI-PTI alliance, noting that Imran Khan’s party had been in “agitation mode” due to its political movement at the national level. Such an agreement, he feared, would fail to deliver as its focus would be more on agitation due to the PTI’s overall political stance.

“I don’t think that the PPP would lose anything from this [JI-PTI] alliance but the city would not be able to get that level of relief and development which it deserves,” said Dr Khan.

Published in Dawn, January 25th, 2023

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