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December 19, 2011

Arts Council polls held in a charged environment


December 19, 2011

The annual elections of the Arts Council of Pakistan (Karachi), the country’s premier arts and cultural body, were held on Sunday amidst tight security and heated debate at the general body meeting.
Prominent academic, literary and social personalities took part in the polls. Prior to the election, a general body meeting was held in the morning whose proceedings were marked by heated debate and slogan-shouting.
Witnesses said that the exchange of hot words started over the “non-provision” of proper voters’ list, followed by heated debate on the performance of office-bearers and other issues. Although the situation was pacified, a large number of police and Rangers personnel were deployed to avoid any untoward incident.
The polling that started at 1:00 pm continued till night. The main contest was between the incumbent president Muhammad Ahmed Shah-led panel and Shahr-e-Quaid panel led by famous entertainer Umer Sharif.
Huge banners were installed by both the groups and special camps were set up to guide the voters numbering 4,954. The general body decided to allow video recording of its meeting from next year as well as conducting audit of the Arts Council by a new audit firm.
The meeting was presided over by Commissioner Karachi and ex-officio Chairman of the Arts Council Roshan Ali Sheikh. Responding to the criticism by some quarters at the meeting, presidential candidate Muhammad Ahmed Shah said that the utilization of culture fund was an internal affair of the Arts Council and it was a normal practice in every organization to divert funds from one scheme to another project.
Presidential candidate from Shahr-e-Quaid Panel Umer Sharif underlined the importance of maintaining discipline and demonstrating civility. Some participants also raised objections when some candidates of Muhammad Ahmed Shah-led panel also assumed seats on the stage. However, a candidate Amin Yusuf said that such heated debate at the general body meeting of the

Arts Council happens to be a normal affair.

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