Just a hundred yards or so separates the sea from the Karachi residence of the President of Pakistan. If this conjures up an image of a lovely tree lined path, weaving through a lush green garden, leading up to the sea from the President’s residence, then it is nothing but a fantasy. The reality is completely the opposite.

The area adjacent to Bilawal House is one of the filthiest in all of Clifton. Starting from the dirtiest market in town right adjacent to the high walls of this famous residence, there are pot holed roads, pools of dirty water, piles of burning garbage, stray dogs, scavenging crows, dug up grounds, abandoned construction and crumbling apartment buildings.

Here are some pictures of this neglect and indifference beyond the four walls of the high and mighty.

Rome was not built in a day, but this may not be built in a hundred years.

Look closely: how much wildlife can you find here?

Abandoned and rusting, like the rest of Karachi.

A graveyard of impounded vehicles.

For some the garbage is livelihood.

He is not Nero; he is just watching the enchanting scenery.

This man told me that the plastic bags sometimes get stuck in the animal’s throat and choke it to death.

Dubai (in the background), Pakistan (in the foreground).

Healthy, life-giving fumes rise from the garbage. The garbage is burnt regularly to make room for more garbage.

Post-nuclear holocaust?

Not exactly Bilawal House standard.

Excellent view of the reality outside the walls.

Food for the day by the residents of the rag shacks.

Crumbling buildings all in a row.

Distorted humans of Karachi.

Now if the President sat here and did some thinking.

The author is an engineer turned part-time journalist who likes to hang out at unfashionable places like shrines, railway stations and bus stops.

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

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Comments are closed.

Comments (39)

July 16, 2013 7:15 pm

"Democracy is the best revenge" (for the elite)

Arif Khan
July 16, 2013 7:23 pm

Your timing is off Vaqar ;-). Had you written this a year ago you may have had some luck in being noticed by the powers that be. The place would have been cleaned up pronto, shining and polished. Sadly it is time for the saheb to leave his kursi in a few weeks and at times like these koi ghaas nahin daalta hai.

Jalaluddin S. Hussain
July 16, 2013 7:47 pm

Excellent report Vaqar Sahib, Jalal from Canada

Habib Khimany
July 16, 2013 7:54 pm

What a pity, abunch of hipocrate rulers ..... "Safai nifs Imaan hai".... How are we going to change?

July 16, 2013 9:52 pm

This is exactly what I saw when I visited Karachi. A make shift landfill between the sea & the most affluent area of Karachi. Open drainage at points running into the sea whose waters and sands have turned into a greyish brown smelly & probably even toxic sludge. All this just a stone's throw away from the public beach. The rich seem to have turned a blind eye towards it, they either venture miles out of Karachi to their seaside huts in Sonmiyani etc. or abroad for a cruise liner voyage. No one including the President cares enough to even look what lies beyond their high ramparts & the darkened windows of their regal motorcades.

July 16, 2013 10:57 pm

I wish I could change their residences - shift those in Bilawal House here,and the ones here to Bilawal House.

July 17, 2013 12:02 am

Very creative, very humane way to depict the reality that is S. Asia. May your tribe of thinking people increase. Very effective in getting your point across.

July 17, 2013 12:32 am

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.....................how true. Even if our President got to see this........... he would laugh.

Ajaya K Dutt
July 17, 2013 2:17 am

reminds me of India. How similar we are, across the border that divides more than just citizenship.

Ajaya K Dutt
July 17, 2013 2:19 am

Now if the President sat here and did some thinking.

I am talking about other side of the border.

July 17, 2013 3:49 am

Most of these problems are outcome of exploding population which is followed by rising pluton, falling rule of law, rising garbage and inadequate infrastructures, increasing corruption etc. etc.

Any one for a better explanation?

July 17, 2013 3:55 am

It does'nt appear to be any area beside President's residence rather a bombed city of Syria.

July 17, 2013 3:59 am

It doesn't appear to be affluent area Clifton, rather a bombed city of Syria.

July 17, 2013 6:10 am

Great article. I believe as the walls of the mansions grow the mounds of litter grows too. Sanitation and maintaining the environment will cost money and the people that own the homes have to pay for services if they feel these are needed. The people in power merely reflect the wishes of the people. It is sad that the people wish for trash and get their wishes in Karachi.

July 17, 2013 8:37 am

The solution to this problem can be solved by the people of Karachi itself - - - - a little bit of self-help and the rest will be done by itself.

July 17, 2013 11:45 am

I resided accross from Bilawal House, in fact my apartment was above the "dirtiest market in town". I loved it, still dream about it and wish I was still there. And yes, I am a Westerner!

Ghalib Khan
July 17, 2013 1:25 pm

On Your picture "Not exactly Bilawal House standard." The President frankly does not even deserve this.

R. Fatima
July 17, 2013 2:46 pm

Images just complete all the fantasies one can think of. I resided in this area for nearly 20years, initial years were surely heaven, a perfect resort where people would actually plan to come. From the past 5 years, this has turned to an utmost disaster, after the kingdom of Bilawal house spread on those roads for which we were levied with heavy taxes. Shatters my heart but I am glad we left!

July 17, 2013 2:46 pm

dear all pakistani it is not duty of president of pakistan to clean the srteet we should be responsible all aroound us, president house is clean and tidy but aroound 1oo yard from president is all filthiest so so we all paki are responsible for it we must be a responsible citizen of pakisan. We clean our house and throw garbage on road outside we never think that air will bring it back its stink to our house.

Azhar Ali
July 17, 2013 3:16 pm

Beautiful analysis it reflects our collective behavior.. clean my home let the street remain dirty!

July 17, 2013 6:57 pm

@edwardian: Define democracy. Technically Pakistani government was democratically elected.

Asad Khan
July 17, 2013 8:56 pm

Amazed at the comments here - self help, What? This is an outcome of what we have done to our cities - let them run by Commissioners instead of city mayors and city governments. It also shows the apathy of the residents of this house, who don't give a hoot about the condition of this house or its surroundings, as long as their foreign homes are well kept. With their provincial government in Sindh for the last 5 years, they can have this area cleaned in a week, but who cares! No wonder Sindh has been on a downward spiral socially and economically because of them.

July 17, 2013 9:07 pm

Do not blame the president .It is the pakistanis who always bring back same people again and again by voting . Pakistanis have no self respect in them and no Ghairat . Shame on you all .Although I am a born Pakistani and feel shame to call my self a Pakistani.

July 17, 2013 9:23 pm

Where is city administration? This filth is there for years even Bilawal house became 'President House'. Citizen cab't be blame for this. Have City Mayor to conduct his business from this groung.

July 17, 2013 9:37 pm

Pictures speak louder than words. Excellent work. Apathy of ruling class cannot not be expressed by words.

July 17, 2013 9:58 pm

Is it really Pakistan? I thought it was scenes from Mumbai falsely posted as scenes from Karachi.. may be we are brothers after all!!

Ali Naqvi
July 17, 2013 9:58 pm

Its not that Mr. President should come out and clean it himself. Its about holding the government departments accountable like KMC, KDA and the such. If they were doing what they are paid for it would not reach to this disaster. And yes, it is true that this imagery shows the state of mind of the country's leaders, why they have not done anything about and state of mind of citizens who accept all ill and do not protest.

July 17, 2013 10:18 pm

Now then we wonder why the crime rate is so high in Karachi. Police not doing their job effectively might be a reason but the sheer DIFFERENCE in the standard of living also makes criminals. One more than one occasion I've been told by the Rickshaw drivers that they knew friends and family who did snatching for a living because they simply couldn't get by with what they could earn (with mouths to feed). I wonder how many of us who hate to see the crime in our city who resort to that if we were in their conditions... I suspect many.

July 17, 2013 10:33 pm

@hasan: Well Mr. Westerner begin throwing all your garbage outside your home, encourage your neighbors to follow suit and soon you will feel at home Good Luck

July 18, 2013 12:39 am

You are giving ideas to the president. He would grab this land too and make it part of Bilawal house.

July 18, 2013 4:50 am

Waiting for quite a while to hear or read something good about Pakistan... The country seems to be disintegrating and none of the leaders have a clue how to do something about it.

July 18, 2013 5:31 am

some meaningful stuff on The Dawn...at last

Justice (R) Salahuddin Mirza
July 18, 2013 6:33 am

I lived in front of the Bilawal House next to Agha Khan Hospital branch for seven years, always expecting that the President would take note of this filth around him and finally had to sell my flat and move somewhere else when I could no longer stand this filth around me. Indeed, the most unique residence of a president of a country. 17 July 2013.

mike ghaous
July 18, 2013 7:09 am

It is going to be"ex Presidents's house"

July 18, 2013 8:19 am

Proactive and thinking journalism...We dont have any difference in India in this regard. I wish India media could post such eye openers and give regular shake up to sleeping congresee govt.

dr vimal raina
July 18, 2013 9:02 am

Any city of the subcontinent could have gone by those pictures.

July 18, 2013 11:07 am

it was good to read this blog but we should not miss one thing: it is not only the president of Pakistan who is responsible for what writer is trying to reflect through the photos. Our people of Pakistan have a fifty percent share in what is all around us. Rest of the fifty percent is the share of our politicians. had it been anyone from the slums to sit on the president chair, i dont think he would be an exception in the herd, or even worst.

July 18, 2013 2:55 pm

@AM: "Democracy is the best revenge". Google paste the sentence and you will get the answer in images. Its a newly coined phrase and a Pakistani would understand only :)

July 19, 2013 2:39 pm

It is really tragic that we forgot that behind our own glass windows and wooden doors a world exists that is rotting. Most of the children growing up in urban cities walk through mounds of garbage and we have left them to sort of decompose in this filth. I lived in Karachi as a little girl and twenty years later when I decided to visit, it was the same Karachi, except more dilapidated and I guess more blood on the streets.

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