Karachi mayor election delay sows discontent

Karachi mayor election delay sows discontent


The delay of Karachi mayor election has caused significant disruption and uncertainty in the city

KARACHI (Nouman Sharif) – The local government elections in Karachi recently concluded, with the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) emerging as the winner with 93 seats, followed by the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) with 86 seats and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) coming in third with 40 seats. However, neither party has the majority required for the city s mayoral slot. As a result, the PPP and JI have to form an alliance with each other or the JI has to shake hand with the PTI in order to appoint a mayor of choice. 

Despite this, an amendment to the Sindh Local Government Act of 2013 now requires only a simple majority to table a no-confidence motion, making it so that the elected mayor would not have any job security. Controversies marked the local body polls as in every other election, however, the results have left the political parties in Karachi with a challenge in terms of forming a stable government with a clear majority.

The elections for the mayorship of the country’s biggest city and economic hub faced long delay as the political uncertainty grew with each passing day. 

The delay of the Karachi mayor election has caused frustration among citizens, political parties and candidates as they had been preparing for the election for months. Additionally, the delay has raised concerns about the transparency and fairness of the electoral process as some parties have accused the ECP of bias and manipulation. It is also having an impact on the city s governance. This has resulted in a vacuum of leadership, which has hindered the city s capacity to address important issues such as infrastructure development, transportation, and public services.

The local government elections in Karachi were held on Jan 15 - two and a half years after the local government in Karachi was abolished on Aug 30, 2020. According to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) grabbed 91 seats out of 229, while Jamaat-e-Islami won 85 seats, and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) could bag 42 seats. The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) and the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) won 7, 2 and one seat respectively.

The commission compiled the results of the chairmen and vice chairmen elections in 229 union councils (UCs), while the results of six UCs have been withheld. Hearing on six seats will be heard by the ECP and elections could not be held on 11 seats due to the death of candidates.

Following the LG elections, the PPP and JI have been reaching out to political parties to get their own mayor but the process faces delay after the ECP said that Karachi would have to wait for its election of mayor until the elections in all 246 union councils (UCs) are held. The electoral watchdog said elections in 11 out of 246 UCs were still remaining and the election of the mayor could be possible only after the elections were held in all the constituencies.

Sindh Election Commissioner Ejaz Anwar Chauhan has already said the process could take two to three months to complete.

Mayor’s responsibilities

To run Pakistan s largest city, the mayor has only the function of road construction and maintenance, managing big hospitals and Karachi Medical & Dental College, Karachi Zoo, Safari Park, City Aquarium, Sports Complex, Art Gallery, Museum, Metropolitan Library, Fire Fighting, Civil Defense, Traffic Engineering, removal of encroachments and few other affairs.

According to a review report, the powers of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) seem limited in comparison to its status as the largest local government body in Sindh. The report states that some key functions of local government such as health, education, environment, overall development, and security are not under the jurisdiction of the KMC. 

Additionally, other functions that are included in its domain such as control of stray animals, brick kilns and cattle colonies are considered trivial and more appropriate for union committees (UCs). Furthermore, the six district municipal corporations (DMCs) were made independent with little connection to the KMC. Additionally, the DMCs and UCs controlled by the PPP communicate directly with the provincial government for funds and direction, bypassing the KMC.

The delay of the Karachi mayor election has caused significant disruption and uncertainty in the city, and has raised important questions about the effectiveness and integrity of the electoral process in Pakistan. It is important that the ECP, political parties and candidates work together to ensure that the election is conducted in a fair and transparent manner, and that the city of Karachi is able to move forward with effective governance and leadership.