JI ends sit-in after minister's assurance on local government elections
KARACHI:Sindh Local Government Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah assured that the local government elections would take place in Karachi on January 15.
The minister said this after the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) protesters marched on the Chief Minister House to protest against delay in the local government elections in Karachi once again. However, the JI demonstrators ended the protest after he assured them of theelections date.
Shah also assured the JI of devolution of powers to the local government setup in Karachi. He announced that the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leadership would also visit the Idara Noor-e-Haq, the JI Karachi headquarters, in the near future.
Hafiz Naeemur Rehman, the Karachi emir of the JI, however, made it clear to the PPP leadership through Shah that the provincial government would have to withdraw its letter written to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and summon a Sindh Assembly session for legislation over the assurance made by the PPP to the JI in connection with the devolution of powers to the local government.
Speaking on the occasion, the local government minister gave several reasons for the previous delays in holding the polls, including security issues and floods. He, nevertheless, made it clear that the local government polls in Karachi would be held on January 15, stating that the PPP wanted to hold the second phase of the local government polls in the province as soon as possible.
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari had also announced that the local government elections would be held on the scheduled date, Shah said. He claimed that the PPP government had also taken steps to empower the local government institutions.
He also maintained that the PPP had promised to establish the provincial finance commission and would keep its promise. In this regard, he said, a delegation of the PPP government would visit the Idara Noor-e-Haq.
Later, he appealed to the JI leadership to conclude its sit-in, citing security concerns due to presence of the New Zealand cricket team in the city.
Rehman was not very much pleased with the local government minister’s assurances, stating that the PPP had been "double-dealing". He remarked that on the one hand, the PPP had written multiple letters to the ECP for postponement of the local government elections, but on the other, it was also trying to hide behind the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).
He made it clear that the JI would not be accept any further delay in the local bodies polls as it would be a clear violation of the democratic right of the people of Karachi. Earlier, Rehman led a march from the Karachi Press Club (KPC) towards the Chief Minister House to stage a sit-in against the efforts to delay the local government elections in the Karachi and Hyderabad divisions.
The march started at 4pm at the KPC, but police barred the marchers from advancing to Din Mohammad Wafai Road connecting Fawara Chowk with the Arts Council. Due to the protest, the flow of traffic on the surrounding roads was disrupted. Before leading the march, the Karachi JI chief spoke to the media and said that some parties did not want the local government elections to be held on January 15.
Referring to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), he said a party while it was enjoying power with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf notified the census and now the same party had been declaring the same census as fake. He maintained that the MQM-P did not want the local bodies elections to be held.
He was of the view that all other elections were held on time but when the time came for the local bodies elections, some of the parties created hurdles and the crime rate in the city suddenly rose.
As the march began, JI workers began raising slogans calling for immediate local government elections in the city. When police stopped the marchers at Fawara Chowk near the Artillery Maidan police station, the protesters refused to disperse and staged a sit-in in front of the police station.
Karachi JI Deputy Secretary Abdul Razzaq Khan addressed the sit-in and chided the Sindh government for depriving Karachi of its due rights. He asserted that the JI would force the provincial government to hold the polls in any case.
JI leaders also criticised the ECP. The party’s deputy chief for Karachi, Dr Osama Razi, said that historically, whenever time for the local bodies elections came, the ECP presented lame excuses for not conducting the polls.
He said that in violation of the Article 140A of the Constitution, the people of Karachi were not being given their rights. The entire city had been turned into ruins because the Sindh government wanted to control Karachi, he added.
Addressing the sit-in, Rehman also came down heavily on the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) saying that the 14 MNAs of the PTI did not talk about the rights of Karachi. He alleged that the PTI government deliberately counted the people of Karachi incorrect in the last census.
He said that feudal mindset had captured the entire Sindh and the same elements wanted to retain their dominance over Karachi. The MQM-P, Rehman said, wanted to get the local bodies elections postponed on the pretext of incorrect constituencies and census, but if it had left vested interests aside, the problem could have been solved.
He claimed that the people of Karachi had rejected the MQM-P and PPP as they had realised that the only solution to their problems was electing the JI. He said the JI would hold the Karachi Declaration Convention at the Bag-e-Jinnah on January 8. He appealed to the masses to join the convention for the sake of Karachi’s future.