Post can't be filled by politician, say rivals
The MQM and the Jamaat-e-Islami don’t like to agree with each other on anything but when PPP’s Murtaza Wahab was made Karachi administrator, these two old rivals found themselves on the same side.
“The PPP-led Sindh government is trying to run Karachi by feudalism,” said the Jamaat’s Hafiz Naeem ur Rehman.
The MQM’s Waseem Akhtar dryly remarked that the PPP has been in power for the last 13 years and now it will control the city government. So now all of Karachi’s civic problems should be fixed. Waseem Akhtar was Karachi mayor himself from 2016 to 2020. The JI and MQM have both had a fair shot at running Karachi. They both elected mayors, Abdul Sattar Afghani and Niamatullah Khan Advocate from the Jamaat and Farooq Sattar, Mustafa Kamal, and Waseem Akhtar from the MQM.
In classic political tenor they described the decision as a “conspiracy” against the people of Karachi. According to Waseem Akhtar, the PPP has breached an agreement they reached during a meeting at CM House after the local government tenure ended. The four years of the last local government ended on August 31, 2020.
“It was decided that the PPP-led Sindh government will not appoint any political person as a Karachi administrator,” Akhtar said. They decided that Karachi Metropolitan Corporation would be run by an appointed bureaucrat until the local government elections can be held. That meeting was attended by the governor, PTI and MQM-P leaders and members of the Establishment. The fear now is that making Murtaza Wahab administrator will just help the PPP influence the next local government elections.
The Sindh government had to hold elections soon after the old local governments were dissolved, but delayed it over the results of the 2017 census. Its argument was that it did not accept the population count for Karachi and delimitation of constituencies would be badly affected as a result. If they could not draw boundaries, they would not be able to hold an election. This is why JI’s Hafiz Naeem says that he thinks that appointing Wahab is just another way for the PPP to delay holding local government elections.
Caretaker governments look after affairs in the transition period until the elections can be held. That is why, instead of an elected mayor, the Sindh government appoints an administrator. But that person is generally supposed to be a bureaucrat and not someone who is allied with any political party.
The only other time this has happened is when the PML-N appointed Mushahidullah Khan as Karachi administrator in the 90s.
The PTI is also not happy with the decision. Haleem Adil Sheikh said that Bilawal Bhutto was just creating confusion by making such changes. On the other hand, Pak Sarzameen Party’s Dr Arshad Vohra argued that they were against the appointment simply because a political personality should not be assigned to a slot that was inherently not political.
The law is, however, ambiguous. According to a retired senior KMC legal advisor, Najamuddin Sikandar, it should be mentioned in the Sindh Local Government Act 2013 if the provincial government can appoint an administrator as per Section 21(3), but it is not clear whether it should be a political or non-political person. It says: On the expiry of the term of office of a Council, Government may appoint an administrator to perform the functions of the Council until the elected Council assumes office. Sikandar said that the Sindh government should have made amendments to the law before making Wahab administrator.