The Jamaat-e-Islami has demanded that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) announce the schedule for local government polls for the remaining union committees (UCs) in Karachi in two days, otherwise the party will hold a sit-in outside the Sindh election commissioner’s office.
JI Karachi chief Hafiz Naeemur Rehman issued the ultimatum on Wednesday while addressing a press conference at Idara Noor-e-Haq, the party’s city headquarters. Rehman said the LG elections were held in the city on January 15 but the ECP is yet to announce the poll schedule for the 11 UCs where elections had been postponed because of the candidates’ deaths.
He said the ECP had announced the date for useless by-polls for the seats that recently fell vacant after the government accepted the resignations of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf lawmakers.
He also reiterated the JI’s demand that the ECP decide the cases of six UCs, declaring them open-and-shut cases on the basis of Form 11 and Form 12. Rehman said the JI has accepted the Pakistan People Party’s (PPP) mandate on their seats, so the PPP should also demonstrate some courage to accept the JI’s mandate in Karachi because the Jamaat has emerged as the largest party in the city in terms of popular vote as well as UCs. He said the PPP had started submitting applications for various seats to put pressure on the ECP, adding that the commission was obligated to decide the applications on merit. He also asked the ECP to arrange oath-taking for the elected chairmen, vice-chairmen and councillors.
Rehman said the ECP had conducted the LG elections in Karachi despite intense pressure from the PPP and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), so the JI appreciates the commission for its courage.
However, he clarified, the JI reserves the right to protest as well as launch a democratic and legal battle against the ECP if it goes against the constitution. He also challenged the PPP to amend the law and go for direct election to the office of the Karachi mayor if the party truly believes it enjoys the confidence of the city’s residents.
He also censured the MQM for hiding behind the excuse of questionable delimitations. He said delimitations were also unjustifiable in 2015, when the MQM had contested the LG polls. It is the PPP that does not want an LG setup in Karachi, and the ECP should not act as a facilitator in the matter, concluded the JI city chief.