ISLAMABAD - The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz clinched the seat of Islamabad mayor and three deputies during election for the positions held yesterday.
The Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) was the only challenger as none other out of the 320 registered political parties were in a position to contest after losing terribly in the Local Government polls held in the federal capital on November 30.
With PML-N voters and candidates confident of their victory, the polls held in the dome-shaped Jinnah Convention Centre lacked enthusiasm. The only visible hustle bustle in the lawns of spacious center was around Sheikh Anser Aziz, the man nominated by PML-N to be the first mayor of federal capital.
Mr Aziz got 49 votes, out of the total 77; and thus declared winner unofficially.
Old PML-N voters and some of the candidates who polled for Mr Aziz were seen getting close to the ‘non-local’ yet influential man, and trying to introduce themselves and their party fellows.
“He (Aziz) was selected by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif himself. The majority of our elected members have no direct acquaintances with him. To be very honest, we voted the PML-N and not the mayor,” said Malik Ishrat Bari, a senior ruling party worker in Islamabad.
Though the event of electing first ever mayor of Islamabad was historic, the number of PML-N activists was thin. There was no jubilation as Aziz was treated by party workers like a guest-in-town.
On the other side, the camp of opposition PTI was overcrowded and noisy, though it lost the mayoral contest. Its candidate Raja Khurram Nawaz got 26 votes besides losing its three nominees for slots of deputy mayors to PML-N’s Chaudhry Riffat Javed, Syed Zeeshan Ali Naqvi and Muhammad Azam Khan.
The polling started at 9am while Mr Aziz’ luxurious motorcade appeared on the site at 2pm.
He told The Nation that his top priority as Mayor of the federal capital will be the development of rural and backward areas.
“The urban Islamabad does not need any immediate upgrade. My priority is to provide facilities to its outskirts. The chairmen elected from rural union councils narrate a sorry state of affairs. I am determined to revolutionise rural settlements,” said Mr Aziz, who is architect by profession.
He, however, dispelled the impression that he was a stranger in Islamabad, arguing that his familiarity with Rawalpindi-Islamabad was ‘quite old’ and remote areas lacking water, schools, hospitals and other basic facilities were on his ‘finger tips’.
As he was talking to this scribe, PML-N district councilor Inam Abbasi shook his hands with Mr Aziz and greeted him on for being a few moments away from becoming mayor.
“I will be in touch with all elected representatives including those elected on tickets of PTI. We all will work in a harmonic way for the cause of improving living standards of people here,” he affirmed.
The PTI activists, however, refrained from making close contact with the PML-N mayoral candidate and instead sought pause in the election for an hour as some of their elected members had not yet arrived.
At 3pm, as many as 68 voters of the 77-member Electoral College had already cast their votes, with PML-N urging the Presiding Officer to ensure the rest of voters poll their votes quickly.
Raja Khurram Nawaz, PTI candidate for the seat of mayor, told The Nation that his party will play a constructive role being an opposition party.
“I know the numerical strength of our party will not win us the key slots but we are aware that our elected chairmen can thwart any illegal move. We will keep by our words. We don’t need power. We need merit,” he said.