DELHI: Pakistan's largest city is expected to make history today (Wednesday) by electing a new mayor who will lead from inside jail.
Waseem Akhtar, a former Pakistani MP who has been incarcerated for months, is likely to be sworn into office from his jail cell after his Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) sweeps the mayoral polls in Karachi. Senior MQM members said they would petition the authorities to provide Akhtar with adequate secretarial support to run the city of 20 million inhabitants.
Analysts said the outcome of Akhtar's election was a foregone conclusion as the MQM, headed by Altaf Hussain, living in self-imposed exile in Edgware, north-west London since 1992, holds an overwhelming majority in the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, which will elect the mayor.
All MQM members are expected to vote for Akhtar, who faces a multitude of charges, some relating to seven cases of terrorism in which 50 people died in 2007. He is also accused of facilitating medical aid to Islamic militants in Karachi's hospitals.
Over decades, the MQM has defended the interest of Karachi's muhajir community, the Urdu-speaking descendants of Muslims who moved from central and eastern India to Pakistan after its formation in 1947.