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Karachi: Once ‘A City of Lights’, Today A City of Gangsters

Karachi: Once ‘A City of Lights’, Today ‘A City of Gangsters’

By Syed Atiq ul Hassan, Sydney Australia
August 19, 2011

Images of cold blooded murdered, bodies packed in bags dumped like garbage and brutal tortures of innocent citizens of Karachi have shocked the world. Once it was a city of peaceful people today it is a city of gangsters.

Located at the Arabian coastline, Karachi, that was declared the capital of the state upon creation of Pakistan, used to be neat, clean, quite and a place of interest for international tourists. There was a time when the downtown of Karachi like Sadar, Tower and then Bohri Bazar reflected a wonderful image of an international city with market places were seen busy with Asian and European tourists. Iranis, Bahais, Chinese and Afghanis were running the businesses side by side with the locals. The environment, transport, roads and other necessities were incredible. The neat and clean parks, beautiful mostly cloudy environment uninterrupted electricity, wide gleaming roads, excellent public transport like trams, beautifully decorated buggies, old style American & European taxis, colourful double-decker buses had kept this city at par with any modern city in the world. The friendly and pleasant shop-keepers, drivers and workers communicating in local and English languages found serving locals and tourists in a highly professional manner. No political fighting, no ethnic violence, no sectarian killings, no bomb blasts, no looting and shooting. Thus, Karachi used to be the best and beautiful place to live in the region. For European it was mini-London and for others it was a city of everyone.

Karachi - A city of the founder of Pakistan, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, embraced everyone, indiscriminately. From labourers to businessmen; students to professionals or visitors to migrants, Karachi welcomed everyone. Today, it holds more than 15 million people came from various parts of Pakistan. It feeds the entire Pakistan. Seaports of Karachi deal with 90% of imports and exports of Pakistan. It earns 60% revenue of the state yet Karachi has never been given the status it deserved.

Almost every political leader of Pakistan exploited this generous land to flourish their political streams. Its parks, playgrounds and road have been used for anti-government movements and in marketing the political manifestos and religious demonstrations. Today, it is a city of gangsters; dozens of innocent people are being brutally murdered every day by targeted killing. Politicians & Political Parties in power and outside power for their own vested interested shattered the image of Karachi.

Yet, Karachi behaves everyone like a mother who always opens her arms for their children generously and indiscriminately doesn’t matter how children treat her.
The multicultural city of Karachi is a symbol ethnic diversity of Pakistan. The people from every town and city of Pakistan can be seen here making money to feed their families back home.

I was born in Hyderabad (Sindh) about 100 miles away from Karachi. I never forget my childhood days when I used to visit Karachi with my parents to spend school holidays. That was a golden time when I with my cousins used to walk around Sadar, Cantt Station, Ferier Road and Bohri Bazaar spending hours on the roads, at the parks and shopping areas without any fear. The beaches, Clifton, Ferrier Hall and Cantt areas were the best places for outings and picnics. People used to spend hours with their families in the evening watching movies on the big televisions and film screens placed in public parks by the local authorities and private companies.

Many foreigners could also be seen mixing and gossiping with locals at the public places especially at parks, restaurants and shopping areas. Frequent theatres, beautiful cinemas and social clubs kept people busy in night activities. The people were very cultured, friendly and helpful.

As the time passed by; the other metro and cosmopolitan cities in the region like Dubai, Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur - which at one stage far behind than Karachi are now far ahead of Karachi. Today, these cities possess all sorts of modern facilities and creating remarkable attractions for the locals, visitors, and foreign investors. These cities are now the symbols of pride for their respective states. On the other hand Karachi instead of moving forward went backward. The city which supposed to be the most advanced city is now the centre for crimes, terrorism and gang-wars. The negligence, mismanagement and corruption have ruined the entire Karachi. Missing electricity, undrinkable water, and bizarre law and order situation transformed Karachi into a city of gangsters.

Today, Karachi possesses a depressing disposition in the world. No international celebrity, artists or players willing to visit Karachi. A city that had produced world-class superstar cricketers like Hanif brothers, Asif Iqbal, Zaheer Abbas, Javed Miadad, and Mohsin Khan and so on is now thrusting to have a single international sports activity. Most of the Western teams have refused to play in Karachi and all the international games have been banned in Karachi. What a shame!

In the last 40 years almost every politician and religious leader used Karachi for promoting their political agendas and gaining control of the city. Gohar Ayub who is a national celebrity today, spent a rakish life in Karachi in 1960s. Surrounded by model girls, he was involved in disgraceful activities during his father Ayub Khan’s rule. His unavoidable acts eventually resulted with a bloody Mohajir-Pathan ethnic conflict in early 1960s. Many innocent people were killed in that first ethnic violence in Karachi. Then Ayub Khan rewarded Karachi by shifting the capital from Karachi to Islamabad.

In 1970s, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and his buddies inflamed Sindhi Mohajir issue by trying to implement Sindhi as an official provincial language in Sindh and then quota system was also introduced by his government. In fact, Quota System was the first step in dividing Sindh in Sindh-Urban and Sindh-Rural which actually reflected as the division of Sindh between Sindhi-speaking and Urdu-speaking. The people of Sindh which had been living peacefully since the creation of Pakistan and gradually accommodating and absorbing each other were divided. Replacing merit in the government jobs and admissions in professional colleges by quota system brought a discrimination and hatred between two strong ethnic identities of Sindh. Quota system provided opportunities for underserved students possessing lowest marks to get admissions in highly reputed professional colleges. Since then the educational level in Karachi particularly in professional fields which used to be the best in Pakistan started falling and eventually and regrettably reached to its worst. The admissions based on quota system and favourism also brought the political, anti-Pakistan nationalist violent elements in the educational professional colleges and Universities in Karachi. The healthy and productive social and union activities of students became the centre for confrontations, demonstrations, bloody clashes and other un-civilised activities. And Karachi was in the centre of anti-government agitations. On-going Singhi-Mohajir ethnic violence and agitations badly affected the businesses of Karachi and Karachi was again pushed behind in Bhutto’s’ era of rule. Most of the senior ministers of Bhutto government found involved in corrupting the major institutes of Karachi. The then Minister for Communication, Mumtaz Ali Bhutto, a senior minister and cousin of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, bungled the National Shipping Corporation which used to be one of the most profitable and financially strong department in Karachi. Most of the highly reputed and major institutes like Ministry of communication, Karachi Port Trust, Shipyard, Custom, Fisheries, Pakistan Steel Mill, Pakistan International Airlines which were the backbone of Karachi were damaged by corruption, bribery and incompetent appointments and promotions. The religious cum political parties formed national alliance against Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1977. This anti-Bhutto campaign was also launched and operated from Karachi which costed many hundred lives and industrial losses by everyday strikes jamming almost entire industry of Karachi including seaports and airport.

In 1980s, another military ruler Zia ul Haque helped in flourishing Mohajir Quomi Movement (MQM) under the leadership of Altaf Hussain in Karachi to crash Pakistan Peoples Party and the Sindhi nationalist groups in Sindh.

In 1990, bloody army operations in Karachi against MQM by Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif governments transformed Karachi into a battle field. Many thousand young people lost their lives during that black era of Karachi. The people of Karachi who were known as an educated community were changed into a gun-culture community. Open firings, target killing, lootings and kidnapping were the everyday activities in Karachi. In addition to the loss of many hundreds people an entire generation helplessly out of education, jobs and businesses.

Today, the situation is worse than ever before, the political game and the fight to control Karachi between PPP, MQM and ANP have led dozens of people killed every day, target killing, tortured to death, kidnapping, looting is now the main activities in Karachi and the breaking news of every hour especially in the sacred month of Ramadan. The situation has brought a shame for the entire Pakistani nation. The political stakeholders of Karachi have proven to be incapable of bringing peace to Karachi. The present government in the centre and province is a total failure. And the fear is that if this game of killing, looting and kidnapping continues Karachi will be moving towards civil war.

It does not matter which race or culture they belong to, what language they speak or how long they have been living in Karachi or which part of the world they came from to Karachi as history tells us that the people of Karachi used to be very generous, friendly and highly civilised. They had been living harmoniously even with non-Muslims like Parsis, Bahais, Chinese, Hindus and Buddhists for a long time.

Being a commercial and industrial land, Karachi was required a master plan for another 50 years since it became a part of Pakistan. The best transport system, communication, roads, water, electricity and environment control were the main areas where long-term projects were required to be launched.

The city is expanding without any planning and direction. Mismanagement, administrative injustices, shortage of water & electricity, pollution, open rubbish depositories and lack of public transport are the basic reasons which have changed the attitude of the Karachi residents. And these are the problems which have been cashed by the political gurus for their own vested interest. Main cause of on-going killings, looting and kidnapping, frequent violence, frustrations and angriness among the people of Karachi are the lack of basic facilities in this mega city. It is the rulers and so-called political stakeholders of Karachi who have shown no interest to bring peace and harmony in Karachi except to get control of Karachi and its rich resources.
The major political stakeholders of Karachi want to control the city in order to run their millions of dollars of land and business projects, these stakeholders are creating anarchy in the city through their paid killers and gangsters.

Look in to the tales of successes of those cities who were backward than Karachi 20 years ago and now are 40 years ahead of Karachi. Their citizens focused on business, professionalism, education and worked hard to have better lives for themselves rather than looking to the government or political parties.

It doesn’t matter what the citizens of Karachi speak or where they came from, they have to make Karachi free from political divisions and affiliations and focus on running successful business, professional work, education etc rather than running after political parties. All the political activities should be banned in Karachi for at least the next 20 years. If anything can save the citizens of Karachi it is the citizens themselves. The only thing is if they understand this.


Syed Atiq ul Hassan is a Sydney-based journalist and an educationist, his homepage is www.sauhassan.

© Scoop Media

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