Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said that the next mayor of Karachi will be from the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) because it has clearly won the most seats in the local government elections held in the city earlier this year.
“The next mayor of Karachi will belong to us no matter how much hue and cry one makes on this issue,” Shah said while talking to the media after awarding prizes to the winners of a donkey cart race held as part of the ongoing Karachi Games at Fawara Chowk on Sunday.
He did not name any of the opponents of the PPP but was apparently referring to the Jamaat-e-Islami, which secured the runner-up position in the LG polls in the city and is dissatisfied with the election results.
The CM complained that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had been moving at a snail’s pace in completing the process of the LG polls in the province.
He said the ECP should not unduly delay any more the next phase of the LG polls in which candidates against the reserved seats and the heads of the municipal agencies need to be elected.
He also said that delays in this regard have become simply unacceptable because almost eight months have passed since the LG polls were held in the first phase in Sindh’s districts other than the Karachi and Hyderabad divisions.
He stressed that the ECP should not wait to hold the by-elections on the vacant seats in Karachi before conducting the polls to fill the reserved seats and elect the mayors and other heads of different municipal agencies in the province.
He referred to the system of general elections, saying that the polls for electing the prime minister and chief ministers are held immediately after the general elections without waiting to hold the by-polls to fill the vacant seats in the national and provincial assemblies.
He urged the ECP to immediately declare the withheld results of the LG elections regarding around 20 seats in Karachi to complete the process of the LG polls in the city without any further delay. He said the PPP had 12 of the 20 seats in the city.
Warning about census
The CM warned that he will be left with no other option but to withdraw his government’s support of the ongoing digital census in the country if their reservations about the enumeration process are not allayed by the relevant federal authorities.
He said that in the 2017 census, whose results were not accepted by the Sindh government, the federal authorities had maintained that the provinces had no valid grounds to reject the census drive when the provincial officers were themselves fully involved in the enumeration exercise.
He also said that officials of his government pertaining to the district administrations were involved in the census drive but the enumeration data was not being shared with them, so that is one of the unfulfilled demands put forth by him to make the enumeration campaign accurate and transparent.
He clarified that his government was not at all opposed to the census drive because it should be carried out while considering it an important national duty like the general elections, but the federal authorities should ensure that every resident of the province was accurately counted without any ambiguity.
Shah said that all his government wanted was for the census drive to be conducted accurately, transparently and in an error-free manner because the mistakes that had rendered the 2017 census campaign controversial should not be repeated again. He said the census drive should be conducted in such a manner that its results are acceptable to all the relevant quarters in the province.
The first and foremost requirement in this regard is for the census data to be readily shared with the provincial officials and heads of families as soon as the enumeration takes place in order to ensure the accuracy of the population count, he added.
He demanded that as part of the census drive, the National Database & Registration Authority should be involved in the campaign to ensure that all the bona fide eligible citizens of the country get their computerised national identity cards (CNICs) and the minors in the families get their B-forms.
He said that the issuance of the CNICs and the B-forms to all the eligible people in the country would go a long way in ensuring accurate counting of the population. He also said that the enumerators were seemingly not fully trained and prepared to conduct the census drive, while the tablet computers given to them also had obvious technical flaws, as all such issues should have been resolved before the enumeration campaign.
He pointed out that he had twice written to Federal Minister for Planning & Development Ahsan Iqbal to convey his government’s reservations about the census campaign, while Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is also cognisant of the issue.
Regarding the protest campaign by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, the CM said that peaceful protest is the right of every citizen but nobody is allowed to violate the law or use abusive or insulting language during agitation in Sindh, otherwise the law would take its due course for taking action against such elements. Governor Kamran Tessori and other provincial high-ups were also present on the occasion.