KARACHI: If people of Karachi elect the Jamaat-e-Islami in local government (LG) polls, its mayor, instead of crying foul, would work to the best of his capacity and utilize all available resources for the city.
Hafiz Naeemur Rehman, the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Karachi emir, expressed these views during a recent interview with The News. He said the JI would continue fighting for the people of Karachi and follow in the footsteps of the late Niamatullah Khan who had initiated mega projects in the city.
He claimed that the JI had defeated the MQM in the past and won the LG elections but during Musharraf’s era, the MQM-P promoted violent politics in the city and forced workers of other political parties to stay silent. Rehman maintained that in the past, MQM workers would cast fake votes in polling stations in front of the Election Commission’s staff who could not do anything out of fear. “Everyone knows how the MQM earned Karachi’s mandate.”
Continuing with his criticism of the Muttahida, the JI leader said that when the MQM was in power, it chose to fulfil its interests rather than resolving the problems of Karachi. He accused the MQM of spreading hatred among various communities and dividing the public on ethnic grounds for gaining political advantage.
The JI did not divide the people of Karachi on the basis of ethnicity and religious beliefs as it believed in social justice and changing the system, he said. Commenting on the census controversy, he said the 2017 census results of Karachi should be rectified. “The JI has been raising concern over the unfair census from day one, but the MQM-P and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led federal government officially notified the 2017 census. Had there been a transparent census in Karachi, the power imbalance between the seats of urban and rural areas of the province in the Sindh Assembly would have been resolved.”
He said if an honest person became the mayor of Karachi and spent half of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation’s current budget, he would resolve more than half of the city’s problems, including sanitation, drainage and drinking water.
When asked whether the prospects of the JI winning LG elections in the city were high, Rehman replied that the party had recently won several seats of councillors in the cantonment elections and came out among top political parties of the city. “We hope that the JI will easily win the elections because in a majority of areas, the public has been supporting the JI’s election campaign,” he said.
“There are dozens of union committees [UCs] where people who belong to other parties want to contest the LG election on the JI’s electoral symbol. So we welcomed those people and allowed them to join hands with our party. Even in the Pashtun majority areas, people may be affiliated with the PTI but they are supporting the JI in LG polls.”
Regarding the party candidates for the seats of councillors and UC chairmen, the JI Karachi chief said the party had fielded candidates belonging to all ethnicities. He explained that JI candidates for LG elections in Karachi included Muhajirs, Sindhis, Punjabis, Pashtuns and Balochs.
Similarly, he said the party had given tickets to people belonging to various religious schools of thought. He claimed that the JI candidates included Deobandis, Barelvis as well as Shias. Around 35 to 40 per cent of candidates who are contesting LG elections on the symbol of ‘scale’ are not formal members of the JI, Rehman said. He added that the JI candidates include people belonging to other parties and those representing various communities.
To the question of electoral alliances and seat adjustments, he said the JI had not made any electoral alliance with other parties but it had formed alliances with communities and local social welfare organisations in some of the UCs.
“The PPP and the MQM-P think that they have Sindh-speaking and Urdu-speaking communities in their ‘pockets’ respectively and whenever they want, they can use these communities for their political gains. However, people are well aware of the fact that these parties have been the actual cause of their sufferings. There is no need to explain who destroyed Karachi,” he said.
He remarked that all parties, including the PTI, wanted to escape from LG elections but the JI would not let them run away from the polls. He claimed that JI’s rivals were now afraid of its popularity that it had earned through its fair politics and campaign for the rights of the city.