Jailed Waseem Akhtar takes oath as Karachi mayor

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We have to set aside differences, work together for city, province betterment

Staff Reporter

Karachi—Jailed Karachi Mayor and Muttahida Qaumi Movement leader Waseem Akhtar and deputy mayor Arshad Vohra, also of the MQM, took oath at Bagh-i-Quaid-i-Azam on Tuesday.
Karachi Metropolitan Corporation Commissioner Samiuddin Siddiqui administered oaths to the mayor of Karachi after around eight years along with Deputy Mayor, Arshad Vohra.
Chief of the party in Pakistan Dr Farooq Sattar and Leader of the Opposition in the Sindh Assembly, Khawaja Izharul Hassan among others were present in the ceremony.
Akhtar opened his speech with a slogan of “Long live Muttahida, long live Bhutto and long live Imran Khan.”
“We have to set aside our differences,” he said, addressing PPP’s Bilawal Bhutto and Asif Zardari.
“After eight years, Karachi has a mayor, a deputy mayor, a chairman and a vice chairman. We will have to work together for the betterment of this city and this province.”
“We know Karachi is plagued by a number of issues. These problems are our problems,” Akhtar said, requesting all those elected to set aside their differences for the progress of the metropolis.
He called on diplomats and businessmen to aid him in this endeavour. “I need your help to fix these issues [faced by Karachi],” he said.
“But unfortunately, I am in jail… These are all false charges. After taking oath, I have decided to move a bail application in court. And I am sure I will get justice… As soon as I am released from jail, I will meet you in your offices and take guidance [from you], and meet people from different walks of life. And of course, with all the political parties that have contested the election for this city,” he said.
“There were many hurdles. We are taking oath today, after nine months [whereas] London’s new mayor assumed office in just four hours.” “On the lighter side,” he quipped, “It is almost as if this was a cesarean child. It was not a normal delivery. Let’s hope for the best.”
After stepping away from the mic, Akhtar once again took to the podium to express support for the MQM and Farooq Sattar. “We will work together for Karachi and Sindh,” he said.
His statement comes just days after Sattar announced the MQM was dissociating itself from party chief Altaf Hussain and the London office following Hussain’s anti-Pakistan speech which sparked violent protests in Karachi.
“Long live Karachi, long live Sindh, long live Pakistan,” he said.
Karachi’s new mayor also thanked the citizens of Karachi, his own party members, and members of the PPP, PML-N, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and Jamaat-i-Islami, who participated in the election.
Akhtar is among four mayors and 200 chairmen of as many municipal bodies across Sindh who took oath of their offices on Tuesday.
That Akhtar would be able to take his oath remained uncertain even in the hours before the ceremony as his attendance depended on a production order allowing him to do so. District and Sessions Judge (South) Imdad Hussain Khoso withdrew an order he had issued on Monday in this regard as he did not have clearance from the Sindh High Court to administer oath at the cerem-
ony.
Almost immediately, a returning officer for the KMC then requested jail authorities to produce the jailed mayor-elect and arrange security so he could attend the oath-taking cere-
mony.
Akhtar is the first person in the country to have won the mayoral election from prison with a comfortable margin against his rival candidate pitted by a six-party alliance formed to contest against the the MQM.
Waseem Akhtar was not allowed to pay a visit to Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s mausoleum after assuming post and was moved to prison.
Waseem Akhtar joined Muttahida Qaumi Movement in 1988 after being in Saudi Arabia for some ten years as an employee of a United States company.
After he returned, he established an electronics workshop in 1986. He contended elections on MQM’s ticket and was elected as the Member of Provincial Assembly for the first time in 1993.
He said that Chief Minister, Murad Ali Shah was passionate about development in Sindh and was aware of the real issues that the city faced. He hoped that Karachi Metropolitan Corporation would be given fair amount of share of funds for development projects.
Entire Sindh would progress if Karachi prospers, he said adding that Pakistan People’s Party needs to clear misunderstands and both MQM and PPP should join hands in favour of the province.
The freshly appointed mayor said that MQM was a Pakistani political party and its survival was tied with stability in the country. None would be tolerated if cast an evil eye on Pakistan, he clarified.
Before ending his speech, Waseem Akhtar thanked voters, workers and seat holders of Muttahida Qaumi Movement for their efforts in making his appointment as mayor possible.

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