City of 20M People Will Likely Be Run From Behind Bars

Waseem Akhtar set to become Karachi's next mayor
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 23, 2016 9:57 AM CDT
Karachi, Pakistan, Will Likely Be Run From Behind Bars
Barbed wire won't stop Karachi's likely new mayor.   (Pixabay)

Career criminals often keep their outside "ventures" going while they're incarcerated, but Waseem Akhtar may soon be running Pakistan's largest city—20 million residents and counting—from behind bars. It's likely Akhtar, representing the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, will become mayor of Karachi on Wednesday, the Guardian reports. But the wrench is that he's been in the city's central prison for a month already, jailed for alleged crimes such as instigating riots nearly a decade ago and hooking terrorists up with medical assistance. An MQM senator says an office for Akhtar in the prison facility will be requested, noting, "Obviously he should be on the ground to do his work, but we just have to work around it."

The Financial Times notes logistical issues that may arise during Akhtar's presumed mayoral tenure: The mayor's office is typically staffed with waiters and a chauffeur; one government official tells the paper there's not even a room big enough to call a city meeting in prison. "I suspect the new mayor may have to authorize his deputy mayor to preside over some of the meetings," that official notes. The self-described secular MQM party has long been at (often violent) odds with Pakistan's military: The MQM's leader, Altaf Hussain, lives in self-imposed banishment in London and gave a televised speech this week in which he proclaimed, "Pakistan is cancer for [the] entire world," per the Times. Akhtar faces "years" in prison if convicted. ("Pakistan's Kim Kardashian" was recently murdered in an "honor killing" by her own brother.)

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