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MQM picks Waseem, Dr Vohra as city mayor & deputy mayor candidates

MQM picks Waseem, Dr Vohra as city mayor & deputy mayor candidates

KARACHI: Ten days after its landslide victory in the city’s local government election, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement announced on Tuesday senior politician Waseem Akhtar and member of the provincial assembly Dr Arshad Vohra as its candidates for the slots of Karachi mayor and deputy mayor, respectively.

The MQM, which claims to be a representative party of “98 per cent working people, poor and downtrodden masses” [in the country], this time chose its candidates from the privileged class, as Mr Akhtar is a businessman and Dr Vohra is a known industrialist and both live in the city’s posh neighbourhoods of Defence and KDA Scheme No 1, respectively.

Unlike in the past when the party nominated Dr Farooq Sattar at the age of 27 as Karachi mayor in 1987 and Syed Mustafa Kamal in 2005 at the age of 34 as Karachi nazim, both the candidates this time are in their late 50s.

Mr Akhtar and Dr Vohra won the LG polls from union committees of Karachi’s East and Central districts.

The decision to nominate Mr Akhtar and Dr Vohra was taken by the MQM’s coordination committee through secret ballot. An MQM statement released from London on Tuesday said that no candidate got 100 per cent votes but “Waseem Akhtar and Dr Arshad Vohra got majority votes against other candidates”.

MQM chief Altaf Hussain also endorsed the decision.

A workers’ convention will be held on Wednesday (today) where the two candidates would be administered the “organisational oath”.

“The coordination committee has decided that the party will keep an eye on the performance of MQM’s mayor, deputy mayor, district chairmen, UC chairmen and councillors and it will remove anyone who fails to serve the people,” the statement added.

Since the launch of MQM election campaign, the name of Waseem Akhtar, who is in charge of its central executive committee, has emerged as the top contender for the Karachi mayor office.

His association with the MQM spans over 25 years. In the 1990s, he was the Sindh minister for housing and town planning. From 2003 to 2007, he worked as the chief minister’s adviser for home and local government departments. The May 12, 2007 mayhem took place when he was the CM’s adviser on home affairs.

He contested the 2008 general elections from a National Assembly seat (NA-251) in Mahmoodabad. However, he was not awarded a party ticket in the 2013 general elections.

After the March 11 Rangers raid on the MQM’s Nine Zero headquarters, Mr Akhtar vociferously defended his party and launched several tirades against the Rangers-led targeted operation in Karachi. In an unprecedented move, the Rangers filed a Rs500 million defamation suit against him for his remarks in a TV talk show about the theft of hides which had been donated to the MQM by its supporters.

He was also booked in cases pertaining to sedition and terrorism for supporting MQM chief Altaf Hussain’s speech against the army.

For the deputy mayor slot, the MQM candidate is an industrialist and a former chairman of SITE Association. He is a chemical engineer with a PhD in textile technology from the UK.

Fifty-seven-year-old Dr Vohra is currently a lawmaker of the provincial assembly from PS-115 constituency. He is not among the MQM’s old guard and considered a new arrival in politics.

Published in Dawn, December 16th, 2015

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