Mayor-elect Waseem Akhtar to run Karachi from behind bars

KARACHI: Newly-elected mayor of Pakistan’s largest city Karachi said he will run the teeming metropolis via “video link” from his prison cell.

Speaking during a press conference after being elected, he said,”Chief Minister Sindh should give me an office in Central Jail. I will look after the local affairs via video link.”

Waseem Akhtar, while talking to the media after the announcement of results, thanked the ruling party for accepting the mandate of Karachi.

Newly-elect mayor said that he doesn’t want to discuss the grievances of the past and just wants to move forward for the betterment of the citizens of the city.

He said that all political parties would be taken on board for the development of the city, adding that he was the mayor of Karachi, not of MQM.

Meanwhile, deputy mayor-elect, Arshad Vohra took a phone call during a presser by Akhtar. Television cameras caught Vohra whispering in Akhtar’s ears.

The newly elected deputy mayor was heard saying, “I’m stopping him”, apparently talking about Akhtar who was in the midst of a fiery press conference.

“Waseem, be careful, don’t talk about yesterday. Don’t take Bhai’s name” Vohra said after the phone call.

Later while speaking to Geo News, Vohra said an issue should not be made out of it as the phone call was from Speaker of the Sindh Assembly (SA) Agha Siraj Durrani.

Earlier, Waseem Akhtar who was arrested last month, arrived in an armoured police vehicle at the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation building to cast his vote in the final round of elections that has his party in an unassailable lead.

Akhtar is a member of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), which swept local elections in December, but he could not take office because of legal challenges that prevented members of the city council from casting their vote.

“He will open an office in jail and via video link he will conduct council sessions,” Mahfooz Yar Khan, Akhtar’s lawyer, told reporters outside the council building as his client voted inside.

“He can run Karachi via video link for five years.”

On Tuesday, police lodged a case of treason against MQM’s leader, Altaf Hussain, and sealed the party’s headquarters after Hussain had incited supporters to attack the office of a TV channel in clashes that left one dead.

How Akhtar will manage to run the city is far from clear, with the courts not expected to release him before he likely takes oath on August 30.

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