Alert Sign Dear reader, online ads enable us to deliver the journalism you value. Please support us by taking a moment to turn off Adblock on

Alert Sign Dear reader, please upgrade to the latest version of IE to have a better reading experience


Just a hundred yards away


Your Name:

Recipient Email:

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.

Author Image

Vaqar Ahmed 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 writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (39) Closed

edwardian Jul 16, 2013 07:15pm

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

Arif Khan Jul 16, 2013 07:23pm

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 Jul 16, 2013 07:47pm

Excellent report Vaqar Sahib, Jalal from Canada

Habib Khimany Jul 16, 2013 07:54pm

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

Shah Jul 16, 2013 09:52pm

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.

Anees Jul 16, 2013 10:57pm

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

BRR Jul 17, 2013 12:02am

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.

Parvez Jul 17, 2013 12:32am

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

Ajaya K Dutt Jul 17, 2013 02:17am

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

Ajaya K Dutt Jul 17, 2013 02:19am

Now if the President sat here and did some thinking.

I am talking about other side of the border.

Rao Jul 17, 2013 03:49am

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?

balwanjee Jul 17, 2013 03:55am

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

balwanjee Jul 17, 2013 03:59am

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

Azam Jul 17, 2013 06:10am

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.

Derek Jul 17, 2013 08:37am

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.

hasan Jul 17, 2013 11:45am

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 Jul 17, 2013 01:25pm

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

R. Fatima Jul 17, 2013 02:46pm

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!

ali Jul 17, 2013 02:46pm

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 Jul 17, 2013 03:16pm

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

AM Jul 17, 2013 06:57pm

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

Asad Khan Jul 17, 2013 08:56pm

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.

Noor Jul 17, 2013 09:07pm

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.

Abbas Jul 17, 2013 09:23pm

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.

H L Jul 17, 2013 09:37pm

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

Ranga Jul 17, 2013 09:58pm

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 Jul 17, 2013 09:58pm

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.

Irfan Jul 17, 2013 10:18pm

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.

Matin Jul 17, 2013 10:33pm

@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

Khizr Jul 18, 2013 12:39am

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

Ayaz Jul 18, 2013 04:50am

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.

abdul Jul 18, 2013 05:31am

some meaningful stuff on The last

Justice (R) Salahuddin Mirza Jul 18, 2013 06:33am

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 Jul 18, 2013 07:09am

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

kk Jul 18, 2013 08:19am

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 Jul 18, 2013 09:02am

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

noobguy Jul 18, 2013 11:07am

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.

edwardian Jul 18, 2013 02:55pm

@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 :)

EAR Jul 19, 2013 02:39pm

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.