I HAVE over a period of time looked for published material that could tell me more about my decaying city of Karachi.
Once dubbed ‘the City of Lights’, known for its lively people, its coastal line and its grand British-built infrastructure, the city today is so congested and monstrous that it is difficult to imagine if it was ever what books and the older generation describe it to be.
The infrastructure and historic monumental buildings are in a state of decay as there is no appreciation for them either by citizens or the government. Besides, there is no published material or books that inform about the city’s history and the vast immigrants that it has hosted over centuries seem to be available anywhere.
Books, places, songs, poems, pictures: so much material has been published about this city, but it is a challenge to get hold of this material. I may not be the only one.
During the time that I spent teaching in some of the established universities of Karachi, I found many students interested in learning about the history of this city.
A friend’s mother from Manchester came to visit Karachi a few years ago. She grew up and was educated in Karachi. She left Karachi in the 1970s and now having returned after 30 years, she could not recognise a single building or road except Jinnah’s mausoleum in the few days she toured the city.
I recently tuned in to a Friday afternoon broadcast on FM 105 called ‘Humara Karachi’. This programme takes a particular town of Karachi every week, delves into its history and reports on the programme. This is an extremely commendable effort.
Karachi’s history will be lost unless our generation takes an interest to protect and preserve it. Preservation of heritage and recording of history does not only have to be the responsibility of the government. We can also lend a helping hand as citizens to preserve Karachi’s heritage and history.
ALLY R. MEMON Moray House Institute of Education University of Edinburgh Scotland