Pakistan's largest city Karachi elects prisoner as mayor

(iStock)
(iStock)

Karachi - The Pakistani port megacity of Karachi on Wednesday elected as mayor a politician who is currently in jail on sedition and terrorism charges, a day after the leader of his party was charged with treason.

Waseem Akhtar, a former minister and parliamentarian of the influential Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), won the mayoral poll by a landslide with 196 of the total 294 votes cast by the city's municipal authorities.

Akhtar was arrested in July and accused of ordering a crackdown on city riots in 2007, when he was serving as provincial home minister, that resulted in a bloody massacre.

Later he was also booked on sedition and terrorism charges.

The MQM has long dominated Karachi's politics, largely thanks to the support of Mohajirs, a group of well-off Muslims who migrated from India in the 1940s.

The movement has a stranglehold on the council of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, which elected Akhtar, the MQM's chosen candidate, from among its members.

"I have been languishing in jail for the past month on false charges, but the people have voted for me," Akhtar told media outside the historic Karachi Metropolitan Corporation building before being escorted by police to a prison van.

He vowed to seek his freedom in court - but said if he is denied, he will "solve the public's problems from jail".

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