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Pakistan’s Largest City Karachi elects Prisoner Waseem Akhtar as New Mayor

Politicians can govern from prison under Pakistani law, although it is still unclear how Akhtar would run the city behind bars

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(Representational Image) Pakistan. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Karachi, August 28, 2016: Pakistan’s largest city Karachi has elected as mayor a politician who is currently in jail on sedition and terrorism charges on August 24.

A former minister and lawmaker from the powerful Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Waseem Akhtar, won the poll with 196 of the 294 votes cast by the city’s municipal authorities.

Akhtar was arrested in July and accused of ordering a bloody crackdown on riots in 2007 when he was serving as provincial home minister. He was later arrested on sedition and terrorism charges.

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Politicians can govern from prison under Pakistani law, although it is still unclear how Akhtar would run the city behind bars. He is not expected to be released by the courts before he takes his oath of office, which is likely to be on August 30.

Speaking at a press conference on August 25, Akhtar said he would ask the chief minister of Sindh Province to “give me an office” in prison. He said he would “look after the local affairs via video link.”

His lawyer, Mahfooz Yar Khan, told reporters Akhtar would run Karachi via video link for the whole five-year term of office if necessary.

Akhtar’s poll victory on August 24 came a day after authorities charged Altaf Hussain, the self-exiled leader of the MQM, with treason for inciting violence.

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Crowds of MQM workers attacked the ARY News television office on August 22, firing shots and smashing the premises after a speech by Hussain. The workers later clashed with police outside, leaving one person dead.

Law enforcement agencies accuse MQM of racketeering, abduction, torture, and murder in its bid to maintain power.

The party denies any link to crime. (BBG Direct)

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Women of Pakistan Protest Against Workplace Harassment, Child Marriage

Leader of the Opposition Shahbaz Sharif lauded "the incredible work our women are doing to strengthen their families, communities and the country"

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Following this, a National Security Committee was also held to discuss Sharif's
Pakistan Flag, wikimedia commons

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, women took to the streets across Pakistan on Friday to protest against sexual harassment in the workplace, child marriage ‘honour killings, wage inequalities and limited political representation.

Organisers hope that the “aurat march” (women’s march) and “aurat azadi march” (women’s liberation march) will draw attention to the struggle for reproductive, economic, and social justice across in Pakistan, reports the Guardian.

The first “Aurat March” was held last year in Karachi; this time, the rally has been extended to more cities, including Lahore, Multan, Faisalabad, Larkana and Hyderabad.

The aim is to reach ordinary women in factories, homes and offices, says Nighat Dad, an “aurat march” organiser in Lahore.

“We want an organic movement by women demanding equal access to justice and ending discrimination of all kinds.”

Speakers at the Lahore march ranged from a woman fighting to reform marriage laws to the women who worked on the landmark Punjab Domestic Workers’ Act — a legislation that outlaws child labour in homes and provides maternity benefits to workers.

Another activist, Leena Ghani, noted that Pakistani women have a history of taking to the streets, famously during military dictator Zia ul-Haq’s martial law in the 1980s.

Krishna Kumari works in her office in Hyderabad, Pakistan, Feb. 12, 2018. VOA

While Pakistan has made major strides towards gender equality, poorer, marginalised women and transgender citizens continue to struggle, Ghani added.

Designer Shehzil Malik created a series of striking posters for the “aurat march” that counter typical representations of Pakistani women as docile and subservient.

Women are also protesting against discriminatory policies in universities, where male and female students are afforded different levels of freedom, the Guardian said.

A Pakistani university recently caused a furore on social media by banning women from wearing skinny jeans and sleeveless shirts.

Also Read- Originality is a Dichotomous Terminology, Says Megastar Amitabh Bachchan

In his message on Friday, Prime Minister Imran Khan reaffirmed his government’s commitment to providing women a safe environment so that they could contribute to the country’s development, Dawn news reported.

“We reaffirm our commitment to ensuring women a secure and enabling environment to play their rightful role in our nation’s development.”

Leader of the Opposition Shahbaz Sharif lauded “the incredible work our women are doing to strengthen their families, communities and the country”. (IANS)