It is perhaps emblematic of the situation in Karachi, that the elected mayor of the city, Muttahida Qaoumi Movement’s (MQM) Waseem Akhtar, will serve his office from the confines of prison. The absurdity does not start here, the politician, who was arrested last month on suspicion of aiding alleged militants, smartly arrived in an armoured police vehicle to cast his vote. Only in Pakistan does a city’s mayor share a prison wall with its criminals.

Despite the events of the past few days – described as the tipping point for the MQM by many – the election shows party continues to hold on to its almost unassailable voter bank in the metropolitan city. While many have seen the arrests as an invitation to go in guns-blazing after the MQM, for the foreseeable future however, the party is in charge of most of the city’s local affairs and must be treated accordingly.

How exactly will it take charge of these affairs is another matter. It is unlikely that the case against Waseem Akhtar will be resolved before the date of his oath-taking, and with appeals for bail exhausted, the only option seems to be an office inside the prison.

His lawyers have mooted the use of a video link to communicate with the city council and have asked the prison authorities to provide him with a “well-furnished office”. But how much of that is possible inside existing prison rules? Even if he was to get these services through a special executive order, his performance will obviously be less than ideal. Without open access to the city he is supposed to manage, he will be forced to make decisions on second hand reports and partial information. Waseem Akhtar may be as talented as they come, but being in prison is a serious impediment – it should go without saying. And what of our justice system? Should a man in jail be allowed such facilities?

Perhaps it is prudent to look for an alternative, a stand-in, or perhaps even a new candidate while the present mayor is behind bars. But neither prudence nor ethics are of any concern in the face of the magnetic power of a throne.