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October 4, 2016
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‘Mayor not a convict, should be allowed to attend sessions’

Karachi

October 4, 2016

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City Council unanimously passes resolution calling for Waseem
Akhtar’s presence at future council sessions; Vohra tells members
court permission acquired but home dept yet to give consent

The City Council on Monday unanimously passed a resolution urging the authorities concerned to allow Karachi mayor Waseem Akhtar to attend future council sessions.   

The resolution was the second to have been passed by the City Council in favour of the mayor. The first one was approved at the inaugural session held last week and called for legal formalities against Akhtar to be speedily dispensed.

However, yesterday’s resolution calls for the mayor to be allowed to attend the council’s sessions, irrespective of the legalities pending against him.

Presented by Syed Khalil Imam and Aman Afridi of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, the resolution states that ‘council members demand of the government that Mayor Waseem Akhtar be allowed to attend the council sessions’ and highlighted that ‘he [Akhtar] is still an accused in different criminal cases, not a convict’.

At the outset, the council members asked the acting mayor, Arshad Vohra, to explain why Akhtar was not being allowed to attend the sessions, despite having received the all clear from the courts. The council members demanded that be provided copies of the rules of business so they could ascertain under what law the mayor was barred from the house.

Vohra was categorical in his reply, “The court has permitted the city’s mayor to attend and chair the council sessions but the Sindh Home Department has not consented to this particular arrangement.”

He asserted that efforts were being made to convince the home department to accord permission. MQM council member Shamim Naqvi said the mayor was an elected representative and no charges had been framed against him at present, therefore, there was no legal justification to bar Akhtar from attending the council sessions.

On a point of attention, a Pakistan Peoples Party council member contended that previously the then deputy mayor, Nasreen Jalil, used to conduct the house’s proceedings and the mayor (nazim) was only present in the house at the time of annual budget proceedings. To this, Vohra responded that under the SLGO-2013, it was mandatory for the city mayor to attend all proceedings of the City Council.

Another MQM council member, Shamim Qazalbash, while speaking on a point of order, said that even in the national and provincial assemblies, members were allowed to attend sessions until they are charged with a crime. “The relaxation applies till as long as the person is an accused who is yet to be charged for a crime. The Karachi mayor, as we all know, is currently only accused in different cases; he is, under all legal precedence, not a convict.”

She added, “By not allowing the elected mayor to attend the sessions, the provincial government has placed the sanctity of this house at stake.”

Nadra office 

Another resolution passed unanimously by the City Council yesterday against the proposed shifting of the Nadra office established in Baldia Town.

The resolution was presented by Zahid Mahmood and Rana Muhammad Waris of the PPP and was proposed by the party’s Noman Khan. The opposition members used the chance to criticise Nadra’s abject performance and demanded a separate committee be formed to look into its affairs.

The council members said residents of Baldia Town were facing great hardships in acquiring CNICs as one of two Nadra offices in the locality had been shut down a year ago, and now plans were afoot to relocate the existing one to either Haroonabad or Orangi No 5.

It was said that instead of focusing on shifting the one remaining Nadra centre, the focus should be on upgrading and equipping it enough to properly deal with the increased workload that came after the other centre was closed down.

This resolution also witnessed a token walkout by the PPP representatives against “the indifferent attitude of Deputy Mayor Vohra”. However, Karamullah Waqasi of the PPP eventually managed to convince his party colleagues to return and the resolution was passed unanimously.

Octroi Zila Tax 

The city council passed another resolution – also unanimously – calling for the Sindh government to raise the amount going to union committees, or union councils, under the Octroi Zila Tax head from Rs100,000 to Rs500,000.

Council member Mirza Afaq Beg, in his resolution, recalled that previously all union committees were receiving Rs200,000 under the OZT head. However, he said that with the salary and other expenditure having risen over the years, the amount should have been revised to suit the current demands.

“Instead, the government moved to cut the amount further to Rs100,000, which was a grave injustice to the councilors and the people.”

New City Council hall

One more resolution was passed unanimously by the city council yesterday, this one calling for the construction of a new KMC City Council hall.

The resolution was presented by Aman Afridi, Karamullah Waqasi and Syed Akbar Shah. It stated that the current hall was highly congested, thus permission to construct a new one should be accorded at the earliest. The resolution demanded that the new council hall be constructed in line with the number of members and with galleries for the press, visitors and officers.

Indian aggression 

The city council, furthermore, unanimously passed a resolution condemning Indian aggression in Kashmir and along the Line of Control.

The council, in its resolution, stated that India’s aggression was an attempt to divert global attention from the atrocities its military was inflicting in Occupied Kashmir. It stated that the “whole nation stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the Pakistan Army and will face the enemy with full force and strength”.

The session, which commenced a little before 2:30pm, was prorogued by Deputy Mayor Vohra at 4:30pm.

 

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