KARACHI: At a time when a formal Karachi delimitation notification by the provincial election commission is eagerly awaited, the Sindh government on Tuesday issued a notification making fundamental changes in Karachi’s three of the six districts, incurring the ire of major opposition parties that saw the move as pre-poll rigging.

Changes have been made in Karachi’s South, West and Malir districts. The administrative boundaries of the remaining three districts — Korangi, Central and East — have remained unaltered. Local bodies elections are scheduled to be held in Sindh in September.

The notification, issued by the provincial revenue department, reversed the administrative changes the department made in November 2013 under which the Mauripur and Harbour subdivisions had been carved out of West district and included in South district.

Now both subdivisions have been returned to West district in addition to the existing Orangi, Baldia, SITE, Mominabad and Manghopir subdivisions.

South district will now have five subdivisions — including the existing Arambagh, Civil Lines, Garden and Lyari subdivision — as well the Saddar subdivision which will comprise areas falling with the jurisdiction of the Saddar police station, DHA Phase-I and II and parts of the defunct Preedy subdivision.

The notification included a so-called corrigendum which said that the number of union committees in the district municipal corporation (DMC) South had been slashed from the previous 39 to 31.

The number of union committees in DMC-West would be 43 from the previous 40.

The number of union councils of Karachi District Council (KDC) has been increased from 17 to 22.

The notification, officials said, was a departure from the government’s previous policy in which West district had been declared entirely urbanised, while the KDC had been established on parts of Malir district.

The notification shows that out of eight union committees transferred to West district five have been transferred to KDC as union councils, thus extending the rural areas to West district as well.

The changes are significant especially when the provincial election commission is set to announce the city’s delimitation on Thursday in accordance with the administrative boundaries that existed before the sudden notification.

The provincial election commissioner, Tanveer Zaki, said that he was waiting for the details of the government notification, which he would send to Islamabad for further guidance.

“Whether to go with the previous administrative boundaries or redo the exercise in accordance with the changed localities will be decided under the directives of the Election Commission of Pakistan,” said Mr Zaki.

Critics said such changes could be a way of getting a mayor from the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party and its allies in the city.

The PPP regards South and Malir districts as its stronghold and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement is said to have political supremacy in Karachi West, which could be neutralised through such adjustments.

The remaining Korangi, Central and East districts are traditionally the MQM’s strongholds.

The MQM warned that any attempt to defeat the party through “demographic changes” could not benefit its detractors.

“By resorting to such tactics the rulers want to capture the city against the aspirations of the people in which they will never succeed,” said MQM spokesman Aminul Haq while speaking to Dawn.

A spokesman for the Jamaat-i-Islami said that such tactics by the government were tantamount to hijacking the local bodies elections which the party would always resist.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader Syed Hafeezuddin called it “pre-election rigging” on the part of the provincial government and demanded that no such changes be made without taking all stakeholders into confidence.

A PPP lawmaker, who wished not to be named, said that the government had made no attempt to rob any party of its mandate and such changes were administrative and not political and made for the ease of the people.

Published in Dawn, June 10th, 2015