by Zia Ur Rehman
September 19 , 2015
The Jamaat-e-Islami is eyeing voters in the city’s rural parts for the local government polls – areas that fall in the recently revived District Council Karachi where unlike in the rest of the metropolis, groups formed on the basis of biradarism (caste or tribe) influence local politics.
In May, the Sindh government had revived the District Council Karachi, a separate local body for the rural areas of the Malir district, accepting a longstanding demand of their residents.
These areas comprise Sindhi- and Baloch-populated villages. The rest of the city will be governed through the municipal corporation and its six district municipal corporations – Korangi, Central, South, East, West and Malir.
On Sunday, the JI arranged a local government convention in Gadap town, attended by Liaquat Baloch, the party’s central general secretary, and other leaders.
In the evening, the party announced its candidates for the upcoming local bodies elections in the district council.
It nominated Abdul Majid Khaskheli, a former union councillor of Manghopir, for the of the district council’s chairman.
“The residents of Malir are fed up with the Pakistan People’s Party and traditional politicians of the area as they have done nothing for its development and the welfare of the rural residents,” said Abdul Haleem, the JI chief in Gadap.
“After coming into power, the JI will try to resolve the basic civic issues of the area,” he added.
The area’s political analysts observed that the JI had an organisational set-up in the rural areas for a long time, but it had not remained active on the political front.
Sami Memon, a Malir-based veteran journalist, said the JI’s charity arm, Al-Khidmat Foundation, was active in the city’s rural areas for several years, particularly helping the communities there in gaining access to safe drinking water.
“The JI will try to exploit its charity work in Malir’s rural areas that has helped them in gaining support in some pockets,” he added.
Haleem said the JI and its charity arm had been involved in several development projects in Moedan, Darsana Channa and Khang Jang and other rural areas, including building water wells, setting up free medical camps, and financially helping poor families in meeting the expenses of their children’s weddings.
“The JI has now gained good support among the residents of these areas and would challenge the powerful tribal chieftains and the ruling PPP in the local government polls,” he added.
Analysts believe that it will be very difficult for the JI to succeed in the local bodies’ polls in the District Council Karachi as groups formed on the basis of biradarism in Malir – a trend not seen in rest of the city – matter there.
The PPP has traditionally been strong in Malir’s rural areas.
But in recent years, especially in the last general polls, the party fared poorly because of bad governance and its internal rifts.
Tribal chieftains and politicians including Sardar Jam Bijar, state minister for communication Abdul Hakeem Baloch, Saleem Baloch Kalmati and former town nazim Khuda Dino Shah have been trying to form a powerful electoral alliance named the Rajoni Ittehad to contest the local government polls against the PPP.
Memon said although the JI was well-organised and had experience of running the city’s municipality, it could face a tough time in contesting the polls against the PPP and influential tribal chieftains and elders of various clans.
“Even Sindhi nationalist parties and the PML-N have been unable to organise themselves in these areas and challenge the PPP and the traditional tribal chieftains,” he added.