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Saddar and Goans

January 11, 2019


THIS is with reference to Mr Arif Hassan’s article on Empress Market and the history of Saddar (Eos, Jan 6). While it is a very readable article and gives the readers many facts, he fails to mention the contribution by Karachi’s once-flourishing Goan community to the city’s cultural life, especially in the Saddar area.

The Goans were an integral part of Karachi when Pakistan came into being and remained so for quite some time till the rise of religious extremism. With their beautiful Portuguese names the Goans were part of Karachi’s mainstream life. Goan men and women worked for the government and private firms and were also in police.

There were also Goan businessmen, teachers and lawyers.

The area near we have shops selling accessories for the disabled or the crippled was the hub of Goan activity. There was a cultural centre, a dance hall and a music institute. The area bustled with activity as Christmas and New Year arrived. At least two churches were within a walking distance.

People have all but forgotten the cricket ground ran by the Karachi Goan Association. It used to host international matches. Among the cricketers the Goans produced for Pakistan was Wallis Mathias, who became captain of the national team.

Goan women wore their traditional dress, but with the rise of extremism all of them have switched over to shalwar-shirt. We have lost this wonderful community to migration. I had many Goan friends, now dead or living abroad. I miss them.

Abdul Qadeer Ahmad


Published in Dawn, January 11th, 2019