The local government elections will be held in Karachi tomorrow. The Election Commission has stepped up and taken measures to ensure a transparent election is held, so that the genuine representatives of the people are elected. The last time that citizens of Karachi voted in a local government was way back in 2005, under the provisions of the Local Government Act 2001. Those elections were held during General (retired) Pervez Musharraf’s regime and the Local Government Act 2001 was more in-line with devolution of power at the grass roots.
This time around, elections will take place under the Sindh Local Government Act 2013, which has not been particularly popular with Karachi’s masses. For one, instead of following the principle of devolution of power, the Act assigns the provincial government more authority and supremacy, as regards to governing the city.
This Act created four levels of municipal government in the urban areas: Town Committees, Municipal Committees, Municipal Corporations and Metropolitan Corporations. Members of each council elect the senior officers of these councils. In the rural areas the system provided for a three-tier system of local government, where Union Councils, Tehsil or Taluka Councils and District Councils came into existence. The chairmen of these councils were elected by the members.
Added to this is the fact that the Chief Minister of Sindh has been granted powers to dismiss the local government and appoint officeholders in their stead. This puts the provincial government in a more authoritative position and the local government has a subsidiary role, in comparison.
Also read: ANALYSIS: Will Karachi have a powerful mayor once again?
The previous Local Government Ordinance 2001 was popular among the masses, since the mayor held the strings and was an authoritative figure in the metropolis. Syed Mustafa Kamal, the city’s Nazim from Karachi, remains arguably the most popular mayor the city has ever produced. From construction of flyovers, bridges, recreational parks, underpasses, signal-free corridors and parking plazas, the City District Government Karachi did it all. The city’s condition has visibly deteriorated after the PPP-led government took over Karachi’s reins and hence, the masses have suffered.
Here are a few people who have been elected as mayors of the city in the past:-
Abdus Sattar Afghani (JI)
Abdus Sattar Afghani became the mayor of Karachi in 1979 and was again elected in succession in 1983. He rose from the rank of a salesman at his brother’s shoe store to become the city’s mayor. Born on July 6, 1930, he was impressed by Maulana Madoodi and as a result joined Jamaat-e-Islami as a teenager. He became elected under the controversial Basic Democracies system introduced by Ayub Khan during the 1960s but came into prominence following JI’s decision to award him a party ticket to contest the elections from Lyari. However, he lost to a PPP candidate and later, to an independent candidate.
Sattar became the general councilor after the 1979 local bodies elections. He was seen to be a popular mayor, who used to work for the benefit of the poor and downtrodden. His popularity led him to win the second election as well in 1983, when he was again elected mayor. Afghani was blunt and outspoken when it came to defending the rights of his people. He spearheaded a campaign for the defunct Karachi Metropolitan Corporation’s right over motor-vehicle tax and property tax, which led to his ouster from office.
He passed away in November 2006.
Farooq Sattar (MQM)
Farooq Sattar is one of Pakistan’s most seasoned politicians and was MQM’s first mayor of the city from 1988 to 1992. A stalwart of the MQM, Sattar is a Member of National Assembly from the city. His association with the MQM can be traced back to 1979, when he joined the APMSO and subsequently became a member of the MQM in 1986, after he graduated from Sindh Medical College. Reportedly, he became the youngest mayor in the world at the age of 28, when he was elected in 1988.
Farooq Sattar is known for being a seasonal politician and has also held several portfolios, including MNA, provincial minister, chairman of the National Assembly’s foreign affairs committee and federal minister for overseas Pakistanis from 2008-2013.
Naimatullah Khan (JI)
Naimatullah Khan became Karachi’s mayor from 2001-2005. He won the elections from Jamaat-e-Islami’s platform in 2001 and served under this capacity till 2005. His successor Mustafa Kamal took over from him and became mayor of the city in 2005. Naimatullah Khan often accused Mustafa Kamal of furthering projects that he initiated during his era as mayor. In the General Elections 2013, Naimatullah Khan was awarded JI’s ticket for NA 250, but he lost to Arif Alvi.
Mustafa Kamal (MQM)
Mustafa Kamal became Karachi’s mayor in 2005 and became Jamaat-e-Islami’s Naimatullah Khan’s successor. He was criticised initially for the development projects that he had spurred on right after assuming control of the city. However, in no time, Mustafa Kamal rose to the occasion and was regarded by the city’s public as a hero for the various services that he had rendered. Kamal took initiatives and offered the public something they had not experienced before. From new bus stands to essential flyovers and underpasses, Kamal provided the city’s denizens with lots of facilities. His “I own Karachi” campaign was a hit with the masses, who were overjoyed to see a mayor take ownership of the city for the very first time and introduce infrastructural reforms for the public.
Mustafa Kamal’s achievements have been acknowledged by his admirers and critics alike. After resigning from the post of mayor in 2009 and subsequently left the country.