By Zia Ur Rehman
January 11, 2016
With the Muttahida Qaumi Movement set to easily form its governments in Karachi’s municipality and three districts, other political parties have formed an alliance to stop it from grabbing the top slots in other districts of the city, The News has learnt.
Although the three stages of the local government polls in Sindh have completed, the dates for the election of mayors, deputy mayors and the seats reserved for women, non-Muslims, labourers and youth have not been announced so far.
However, political parties, especially the MQM, the Pakistan People’s Party and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz have been busy mustering support for the district level elections.
Winning 136 of the total 208 seats, the MQM is in a position to form its government in the Karachi Municipal Corporation without entering into an alliance with any other party.
Likewise, it does not need to join hands with any other party to form its governments in the district municipal corporations (DMCs) of the Central, East and Korangi districts as it has a comfortable majority in each of them.
However, a tough fight is expected in West and South, where the PML-N has fetched just enough votes to help another party form its governments in the two districts.
In DMC Malir, the MQM has won only one of the 13 seats there and is out of the contest.
In late December, the MQM and the PML-N had agreed to form an electoral alliance. But after the formation of anti-MQM alliance, the PML-N was forced to back out of the agreement.
Delay in polls
The MQM has also expressed its concerns over the delay in the election for the mayors and reserved seats. The party’s deputy convener, Dr Farooq Sattar, said the delay was aimed at allowing the PPP the opportunity to rig the polls.
“Independent candidates, who supported the MQM, are continuously being harassed,” he said at a press conference on Sunday.
There are 46 union committees in the DMC West, comprising the defunct Keamari, Baldia, SITE and Orangi towns.
The MQM has bagged 22 seats there while the PML-N and the PTI have won nine and five seats respectively.
The strength of the PPP, which won four seats, has increased to five after an independent candidate announced joining the party.
The Awami National Party and the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl each have fetched two seats and the Jamaat-e-Islami one.
A larger alliance has formed against the MQM in the DMC West in recent weeks, but its members have yet to agree on the distribution of seats including the chairman, the vice-chairman and the reserved seats for labourers, women, youth and non-Muslims.
Dawa Khan Sabir, the PTI Karachi spokesperson, who is elected vice-chairperson in the DMC West’s Metroville UC, said all political parties in the alliance had agreed to stop the MQM from grabbing the top slots in the district and in upcoming meetings they would decide as to how the top seats would be divided among them.
“It was also decided in a meeting that no one would form alliance with the MQM,” Sabir told The News.
Party leaders said they had decided to give the slot of chairperson to the PML-N, but there a differences over the seat of the vice-chairperson between the PTI and the PPP.
However, they added that the MQM had secretly succeeded in mustering the support of two members of other parties and could easily form its government in the district.
MQM leader Aminul Haque also said as much in a talk with The News on Sunday, “We have secured the numbers required for a simple majority and we are confident that the both, the chairman and the vice-chairman of District West, would be from the MQM.”
There are 31 union committees in the South district, comprising Lyari and the Old City area. The MQM and the PPP both claimed that they had won 12 of the union committees in the DMC South and needed only four more votes for a simple majority.
In this scenario, the PML-N, which has bagged four seats, has emerged as a kingmaker in the DMC politics.
Last week, the MQM had signed a written agreement with the PML-N under which the latter had agreed to give the slot of the vice-chairperson to the former after supporting each other in the DMC polls.
However, PML-N insiders told The News that forging an alliance with the MQM had caused an internal rift within the party and several elected members of the party had refused to follow the agreement.
A few days ago, PML-N MPA Humayoon Khan, at a press conference, had refuted reports of an alliance between his party and the MQM in the South and West DMCs. In this regard, Aminul Haque told The News that the MQM still had an agreement with the PML-N’s District South chapter, according to which, the chairman of the district would be from the MQM and the vice-chairman from the PML-N.
The PPP has announced Malik Fayyaz, a former nazim of Lyari Town, for the slot of the DMC South chairperson. The MQM has not announced its candidate so far.
Both the PPP and the MQM claimed that they had the support of 15 members in the DMC polls. However, local analysts monitoring the DMC South politics said the situation would become clear when the DMC elections were announced.
In DMC Malir, there are 13 union committees and the PPP, which has won five seats, has managed to achieve a simple majority by mustering the support of the ANP and the JI, each having one seat.
The PPP has been trying to gain the support an independent candidate, who had succeeded in the Sharafi Goth union committee.
Interestingly, unlike other districts, the MQM is out of the contest in Malir as it has grabbed only one seat and the PPP’s main competitor is the PML-N, which has secured four seats.
The PPP has nominated Jan Muhammad Baloch and Abdul Khaliq Marwat for slots of the chairperson and the vice chairperson. Baloch has twice remained the UC Nazim in Ghazi Dawood Brohi Goth.
The PPP will distribute the seats reserved for labourers, youth and women among its coalition partners – the ANP, the JI and the independent candidate.
However, a PML-N provincial leader said his party would ask the PPP to give the slot of the vice-chairperson to the party in the case a city-level larger alliance was formed.