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‘Does Karachi belong to anyone?’

Updated July 12, 2019

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NISAR Memon speaks at the event on Thursday. — White Star
NISAR Memon speaks at the event on Thursday. — White Star

KARACHI: “It is known as the ‘City of cities’, the ‘Pearl of the Arabian Sea’, the ‘City of lights’ and ‘Ghareeb parwar sheher’. It is the largest city of Pakistan and now the largest Muslim city along with being the seventh largest city of the world. Karachi also stands out as a historical city,” said former senator and federal minister Nisar A. Memon while beginning his talk on ‘Does Karachi belong to anyone?’

The event was organised by the Society for Global Moderation here on Thursday.

“Karachi, which started off as a city of Sindhis and Baloch, also served as a passage for others such as Arabs, Greeks, Portuguese and British people whose influence, not just on language, but architecture too, lives on in spite of our negligence,” he said. “If you want to bring back the glory of Karachi then you need to delve into the meaning of ‘belong’ and look more deeply into how you belong to Karachi,’ he added while reminding how the city stood out in philanthropy when one looked at many of its historical educational institutions and hospitals. And how it still has noble institutions such as a major charity hospital.

Ex-minister Nisar Memon calls for steps to revive city’s grandeur

“The city’s architecture such as the KPT building, the Overseas Chamber of Commerce and Industry building, the State Bank of Pakistan building and cultural centres such as the Hindu Gymkhana and monumental architecture such as the Quaid’s mausoleum give it a significance of its own. Then at its south there is the Arabian Sea, [to the] north there is ... the Ranikot Fort that can be compared to the Great Wall of China. Towards the east is Thatta and Bhambhore and towards its west is the Khirthar Range from where flow the Malir and Lyari rivers,” he said, describing the city’s geography.

About how Karachi is managed, he claimed that 39.9 per cent of it was managed by the city government, with other entities controlling the rest. He said the city’s biggest problem was its growing population. “It is the mother of all challenges because it is putting a strain on city infrastructure, water, food, security, etc,” he said.

Some of the measures suggested by the former senator and minister to curtail population growth here was spreading awareness of birth control and putting a check on illegal migration such as has been seen over the years by Bangladeshis, Burmese, Afghans, etc.

He also spoke about improving water supply, providing energy, controlling pollution in order to improve the environment and basically owning the city by those who belonged to it. “You need to plan a structure of governance. But now there is a political struggle going on for control of the city. Meanwhile, there is no mass transport system here, there is a shortage of good educational institutions and there is a spread of crime,” he said.

“The people who have benefited from Karachi have not repaid their debt as they do not see this city as their own, as something which belongs to them,” he concluded.

Published in Dawn, July 12th, 2019