Why Karachi Sucks

The mega city bristles with untold miseries and continues to survive like an orphan.

By S.G. Jilanee | December 2019

With a 23 million population and a 3,780 sq. km. spread, Karachi is Pakistan’s largest city. It is also the country’s commercial, industrial and financial centre, as well as its only seaport. The city also boasts a round-the-year mild climate, sprawling beaches with sparkling sands that invite sunbathers, while its sea coast is dotted with health resorts.With such a shining score card, Karachi should have been a cool, prosperous city. Instead, it sucks. It is woebegone and miserable.

Karachi is also Pakistan’s garbage capital and seat of corruption. Litter is scattered over all open spaces, while refuse is dumped alongside roads, by-lanes and footpaths. And corruption burgeons because the province is governed by Pakistan Peoples’ Party, which is synonymous with corruption.

Civic amenities are few. Transportation is in a mess. The once flourishing Karachi Circular Railway is defunct. Some time ago there were reports about its revival, but they did not materialize. There was also some talk about reviving Karachi’s old tramway system. But nothing happened.

Without a question, it is the Government of Pakistan that is directly responsible for Karachi’s wretchedness. Its misfortunes date from the moment the rulers of Pakistan wrenched the capital away from there, in utter disrespect to the founder of Pakistan, whose birthplace Karachi is.

However, Karachi could have lived with the change, if at least, its status as federal territory, which it enjoyed as Pakistan’s capital, were left unaltered. But, the city was callously downgraded by the government to the position of a provincial city. The decision-makers overlooked the fact that, as Pakistan’s capital, Karachi had developed into a cosmopolitan city, outside the Sindh province. It was not only home to millions of migrants from India, displaced by the communal carnage unleashed there in the aftermath of Partition, but also to people from within the country, who flocked to Karachi for work. In consequence of this demographic upheaval, Karachi became the home of non-Sindhi people.

As long as it was a federal territory, as capital of Pakistan, the impact of this gross anomaly was not felt. But when it was handed over to Sindh, the effects of change surfaced with acute force that turned Karachi into a classic prototype of the old colonial rule, where the Sindhi rulers and their non-Sindhi subjects are ethnically different and do not speak the same language.

But, democracy is a game of numbers. So nobody takes notice if 23 million people of Karachi stand practically disenfranchised insofar as they have no representative in the Sindh government. The situation calls for urgent steps by the government for damage control because it is as plain as daylight that the burgeoning street crime in Karachi is a direct consequence of the frustration of the people at being deprived of their political rights.

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The writer is a senior political analyst and former editor of SouthAsia. He can be reached at ghulamjil@outlook.com

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Why Karachi Sucks
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