• Haleem to initiate legal process to unseat elected LG representatives
• Spares one woman councillor for being in hospital on polling day
• Expert says ECP to take final decision after hearing parties
KARACHI: In what is being described as a bold action especially at a time when the party is undergoing a crackdown following May 9 riots, the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) on Tuesday claimed to have expelled all but one elected local government representatives who defied party directives and abstained from voting in the election of Karachi mayor.
PTI leader Haleem Adil Sheikh, who is also the leader of the opposition in the Sindh Assembly and recently made president of the party’s Sindh chapter, also announced that in the next phase the party would follow legal procedure to have 31 of the 32 members unseated from City Council.
He said only one PTI member of the City Council, who was elected on a seat reserved for women, justified her absence on the election day and, therefore, no adverse action had been taken against her.
The election for Karachi mayor was held on June 15 between Pakistan Peoples Party’s Murtaza Wahab and Jamaat-i-Islami’s Hafiz Naeemur Rehman. The JI made an electoral alliance with the PTI and their collective number in the City Council was 192 compared to PPP’s 173 that forged an alliance with the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl.
However, 32 members of the City Council belonging to the PTI did not come to the polling station set up at Arts Council and abstained from voting. This had gone in PPP’s favour which won the election by securing 173 votes against JI-PTI’s collective 160 votes.
‘No space for traitors’
“There’s no space for traitors in these challenging times when the party is going through its toughest phases of its history,” said Mr Sheikh in a video statement posted on Twitter.
Like many PTI leaders, the opposition leader is also in hiding, fearing arrest in cases pertaining to May 9 riots. He did not even attend the budget session of the Sindh Assembly.
“We offered all these members an opportunity to come up with an explanation and justify their absence on the day of the mayoral election,” he explained. “But, none of them [in their replies] satisfied a committee which was set up to look into their cases separately.”
He said all of them had failed to justify their absence and the committee concluded that it was their deliberate move that helped the PPP to install its mayor.
“One woman councillor, who was also absent on the day of polling, was actually admitted to a hospital and had given birth to a baby girl,” said Mr Sheikh. “She’s committed to the party and had genuine medical reasons to not come on the day of mayoral election.”
He said her membership remained intact and the party hoped that she would play an active role on the opposition benches in the City Council.
Plan to have defectors unseated
Mr Sheikh said that the legal team of the PTI was now pursuing the cases of all the expelled party members to have them disqualified from the City Council.
“The party has decided to contest elections on all the seats to be vacant after their disqualifications. We will not give up and continue our struggle against the fake mandate of the PPP,” he added.
However, it would not be an easy job for the PTI to have the defectors unseated from City Council.
Those who are aware of legal complications, formalities and requirements believe that all the 31 elected members of the PTI still enjoy a chance to justify before legal forums their absence in the mayoral election.
“According to the defined process, now the party [PTI] will go to the Election Commission of Pakistan to request it to de-seat these persons as they’re no longer part of the party,” said senior lawyer Muhammad Farooq who is well aware of election laws.
He said that there was a procedure that the ECP had to follow.
He said that the ECP would hear these members and weigh their arguments as well as the findings of the inquiry committee before taking a final decision.
Published in Dawn, June 28th, 2023