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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
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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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Pakistan Exploits Situation In Jammu & Kashmir: India

India has accused Pakistan of cynically exploiting the situation in Jammu and Kashmir at the General Assembly

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Pakistan Exploits Situation In Jammu & Kashmir: India
Pakistan Exploits Situation In Jammu & Kashmir: India. flickr

India has accused Pakistan of cynically exploiting the situation in Jammu and Kashmir at the General Assembly while it was discussing an important issue.

“Such cynical attempts have failed in the past and do not find any resonance in this body,” Sandeep Kumar Bayyapu, a First Secretary in India’s UN Mission, said on Monday.

He was replying to a reference to Kashmir made by Pakistan’s Permanent Representative Maleeha Lodhi during a debate on the Right to Protect People against crimes against humanity.

“While we are having this serious debate for the first time in a decade on an issue that is of importance to all of us, we have witnessed that one delegation has, yet again, misused this platform to make an unwarranted reference to the situation in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir,” Bayyapu said.

“I would like to place on record and reiterate that the state of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral and inalienable part of India. No amount of empty rhetoric from Pakistan will change this reality,” he added.

Lodhi had said that many of the victims of killings and “mass-blinding” are “in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir” and that they “have the further indignity of living under an illegal and alien occupation”.

Pakistan's Permanent Representative Maleeha Lodhi
Pakistan’s Permanent Representative Maleeha Lodhi. flickr

“Against this backdrop, calls for accountability would invariably smack of double standards and selectivity, especially when egregious crimes including killings and mass-blinding are being committed in full view of the international community,” she said.

However, Lodhi also said: “At its core, the responsibility to protect, is not a license to intervene in external situations, but, is instead, a universal principle of ‘non-indifference’, in keeping with historical context and cultural norms of respective settings.”

Also read: Women-Driven Rickshaw Program Creating Sensation in Pakistan

“We should also be mindful that the notion of ‘Responsibility to Protect’ does not become a mere re-enactment of the discredited ‘humanitarian interventions’ of the past,” she added. (IANS)