ISLAMABAD: Polling for the capital’s first-ever mayor and three deputy mayors went under way Monday morning.
The ruling PML-N is likely to sweep the elections and is in place to win all the seats as it holds 50 of the total 77 votes of members of the Islamabad Metropolitan Corporation (IMC). Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has 27 votes.
The PML-N fielded Sheikh Ansar Aziz, a friend of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, for the seat of the mayor, while Chaudhry Riffat Javed, Syed Zeeshan Naqvi and Azam Khan are contesting the seats for deputy mayor.
PTI, meanwhile, has fielded Raja Khurram Nawaz as its mayoral candidate. Ali Awan, Fouzia Arshad and Raja Zulqarnain are contesting the deputy mayor seats.
All three PML-N candidates for deputy mayor are from the capital’s rural areas, and made headlines during the submission of nomination papers due to widespread belief that they were chosen based on their connections.
PML-N and PTI appeared to be putting up a tight race during the first round of the local government (LG) elections in December ? the first LG polls held in the federal capital since 1979. The last such exercise was held under military rule on a non-party basis and was limited to rural areas only.
Islamabad, which now has a population of around two million, had been divided into 50 union councils for the polls.
Around 2,407 candidates took part in the elections, of which 972 were independent candidates, 506 belonged to PML-N, 479 to PTI, 164 to Jamaat-i-Islami and 81 to the PPP, according to the Election Commission of Pakistan.
However, PML-N came out far ahead of its competitors when it won over nearly all the independents, and now has 32 UC chairmen, followed by PTI’s 18.
These chairmen are ex-officio members of the IMC. PML-N also clinched 18 of the 27 reserved seats in IMC, which the remaining nine going to PTI.