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Wednesday April 17, 2024

Clashes erupt between JI, PPP as Murtaza Wahab wins Karachi's mayoral election

Wahab has become first elected chief of Karachi Metropolitan Corporation belonging to PPP after he defeated JI's Hafiz Naeem Ur Rehman

By Kiran Khan & Tariq Abul Hasan
June 15, 2023
A screengrab of video showing clashes between Jamaat-e-Islami and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) workers outside Arts Council situated on the busy MR Kiyani Road in Saddar on June 15, 2023. — YouTube via Geo News
A screengrab of video showing clashes between Jamaat-e-Islami and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) workers outside Arts Council situated on the busy MR Kiyani Road in Saddar on June 15, 2023. — YouTube via Geo News

KARACHI: Clashes erupted outside the Arts Council of Pakistan after Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Murtaza Wahab won Karachi’s mayoral election on Thursday, becoming the first elected chief of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation belonging to PPP. 

The mayoral contest was between Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) candidate Barrister Murtaza Wahab and Jamaat-e-Islami’s (JI) Hafiz Naeem Ur Rehman, as all the other candidates had withdrawn their nomination papers. 

Naeem secured 160 votes, while Wahab emerged victorious with 173, unofficial results showed.

The JI — who had the backing of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) — had already announced that it would resist any attempts to influence the results and alleged that the PPP had "abducted" PTI's union committee chairmen to "rig the polls", a claim that the ruling party vehemently denied.

As a result of the clashes, the road leading from the city's Shaheen Complex to MR Kiyani Road was blocked. Vehicles parked there were damaged while a person was injured, and some party workers were arrested.

The workers of the rival parties were separated by law enforcers prior to the elections, but they were not enough to keep them calm as they soon clashed after the results were announced.

Sindh Election Commissioner Ijaz Anwar warned that action would be taken against all who try to interrupt the peaceful polling, as Rangers have been directed to arrest all those who resort to violence.

The election

The mayoral contest was between Wahab and Rehman, as all the other candidates had withdrawn their nomination papers. The respective deputy mayor candidates of the PPP and JI are Salman Abdullah Murad and Saifuddin.

According to the entry register, 303 elected members reached the polling station and 33 remained absent. Three elected members of PTI — who were arrested following the May 9 mayhem — were brought in an armoured personnel carrier.

The PPP is the largest party in the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation City Council, with 155 seats. The party also secured the support of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, but their combined strength was short of a simple majority to have their mayor elected.

The second and third largest parties in the city council are the JI and PTI, with 130 and 63 seats, respectively. As the PTI has supported the JI, their combined votes appeared to be 193, which was more than the simple majority in the house of 367 members.

However, a forward bloc emerged within the PTI, and they abstained from voting, remaining absent during the polling.

PPP, JI trade barbs

Lambasting JI for supporting PTI, Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Memon said that JI had joined hands with people involved in May 9 riots.

Before the voting began, Sindh Labour Minister Saeed Ghani had said that the 173 members who were to vote in favour of Wahab were present inside the hall.

He also shared a video message congratulating Wahab and Murad for winning the mayor and deputy mayor elections, even before unofficial results were released.

The provincial minister had shared that Wahab secured 173 votes, while Rehman managed to bag only 160 votes.

Meanwhile, Rehman questioned the returning officer saying that more than 30 elected members had gone missing.

“There are reports that these persons have been detained and it was the ECP’s responsibility to bring these people,” he said.

Rejecting the “rigged mayoral contests,” the PTI said that the PPP has preferred rigging over elections from day one.

“The PPP tried to bar elected members from casting votes by arresting them,” the PTI said, warning that Wahab would suffer the same fate as Hamza Shahbaz did in the Punjab chief minister elections.