by Zia Ur Rehman
December 8, 2015
Unlike Karachi’s urban areas where the Muttahida Qaumi Movement comprehensively defeated its main opponent, the alliance between the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and the Jamaat-e-Islami, in the local government polls, the Pakistan People’s Party fetched the most seats in the city’s rural and coastal areas where it was facing a tough challenge from local electoral alliance named the Awami Ittehad.
In the District Council Karachi (DCK), a separate local body for the city’s rural and coastal areas falling in the Malir and West districts, the PPP has won the majority of the seats. The DCK, which was revived in March by the Sindh government, has 38 union councils – 32 in Malir and six in the West district.
PPP Malir district information secretary Mir Abbas Talpur told The News that his party had won 22 out of the council’s 38 union councils.
He added that some successful independent candidates were also joining the PPP and the party, which had the majority of seats, would easily elect its chairperson and vice chairperson.
Talpur has been elected district councillor in the Gulshan-e-Hadeed union council
The Awami Ittehad, which is also known as the Rajooni Ittehad in Sindhi, was formed under the leadership of Jokhio clan head Jam Bijar, state minister for communication Abdul Hakim Baloch, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz parliamentarian Haji Shafi Jamot, former Bin Qasim Town nazim Khuda Dino Shah, Karachi Indigenous Rights Movement leader Saleem Kalmati, and the chieftains of different clans.
The group did not win the majority of the seats in the union councils but many of its key leaders including Kalmati, Bijar’s son Jam Abdul Karim, Jamot’s nephew Jan Alam Jamot and Shah have succeeded.
The Awami Ittehad leaders accused the ruling PPP of rigging the polls in the DCK and using government resources to help its candidates win.
“The elections in the DCK were rigged and full of irregularities. We demand that the election commission should conduct the polls in council again where there are many complaints of rigging,” Karim told The News.
PPP sources said the party was considering making Murad the chairperson of the DCK and choosing Talpur, Rafiq Daud Jatt or one of the party’s successful candidates in the West district for the his deputy’s slot.
However, Talpur said the party had not finalised the name for the chairperson and vice chairperson seats of the DCK yet.
“The party leadership will announce the names in a few days,” he added.
On polling day in Rehri and Chashma Goth union committees, The News observed a low turnout of voters.
Revival of the DCK
In March, the provincial government had revived the DCK, accepting a longstanding demand of the residents of the city’s rural and coastal areas in the Malir and West districts.
The rest of the city will be governed through one metropolitan corporation and its six district municipal corporations – Korangi, Central, South, East, West, and Malir.
The DCK was formed during the Ayub Khan regime in the 1960s and continued to exist until it was abolished during Pervez Musharraf’s rule and its areas were divided into Bin Qasim, Gadap and Malir towns under the then City District Government Karachi.
At the time of the DCK’s revival, some of its areas were deliberately left out to benefit the PPP in the local government polls. The excluded areas included Ibrahim Hyderi, Rehri, Gaghar, parts of the defunct Bin Qasim Town, Mangophir and some areas of Mauripur and the DCK was limited to 17 union councils.
However, rival political leaders, terming it pre-poll rigging, had filed a case in the Sindh High Court against the DCK’s delimitation.
The court had ordered to include all areas in the DCK which were part of the district at the time of its abolition.
Unlike the local government polls in the city’s urban area where residents of a union committee casted two votes – one for the chairperson and vice chairperson and one for ward councillor, voters in a union council in the DCK casted three votes – one for district councillor, one for the chairperson and vice chairperson and one for the ward councillor.
Since 2001, residents of the city’s rural area have been raising their civic issues but their concerns were ignored by the then City District Government Karachi.
“Whether the mayor of the city belonged to the JI or the MQM, none of them tried to address our civic issues,” said Ikram Ali, a resident of Ghaghar.
Now with revival of the DCK and conducting of the local government polls, Ali feels that the residents now an opportunity to be heard by their new elected representatives.