Missing Mayor

The delay in electing a mayor of Karachi is causing confusion and concern among the citizens. How long will it take for the city to end this impasse?

By Muhammad Omar Iftikhar | May 2023

As the head of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation and Karachi’s local government system, the mayor of Karachi is a key figure whose presence is of paramount significance for the effective working of all departments. At the moment, however, Karachi’s mayor remains nonexistent. The impasse on choosing the next mayor of Karachi is causing a hassle as well as distress among the various offices connected to the mayor’s office. Since 1933, Karachi has seen 29 mayors. These include 15 mayors in the post-independence era from 1947 to 2016.

Karachi does not have a municipality. The delay in holding polls across eleven union communities has caused this predicament. Some opine that the Sindh Government is behind this while some blamed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). Moreover, the transparency of the electoral process for choosing a mayor of Karachi has also been highlighted in recent times. This delay is sending Karachi into a continuous whirlwind of uncertainties at the social, economic, and political levels.

This indecision is also a cause of concern for the citizens who want an authority figure to have their problems resolved. It is also interfering with the decision-making process along with the strategizing of plans that have already been delayed.

The ECP is facing much of the backlash in this regard. The ECP must comprehend the gravity of the situation at hand and how it is affecting the status quo. A city as large and important as Karachi to be functioning without a leader of its municipal operations is a matter of concern. If the decision to select a mayor is not taken in the near future, the citizens may continue to lose their faith in the system. This will also lead to a lack of participation and engagement by the office bearers. A national disconnect may follow when Karachi may not engage in the national building process with other cities.

The delay in the election has also made an impact on the city’s governance. The vacuum of leadership will create gaps among the office bearers who do not have someone to look up to for guidance. Moreover, the city’s various functions – both short-term and long-term – need to be developed for the effective working of the city’s various offices coming under the metropolitan corporation. Aspects such as but not limited to urban planning and development, public services, law and order, economic development, environmental management, and social services, require leadership for effective governance.

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