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Karachi: cities within a city

Published Dec 07, 2012 12:09am

CITY states were peculiarity of the Greek political system. They have gone a long way in developing and strengthening the democratic political institutions throughout Europe.

Reversing this order, somehow, we have created many ‘states’ within the city of Karachi. Greeks were innovative and so are we.

At present Karachi is divided into such parts and areas on the ethno-linguistic basis as have virtually assumed the status of independent states.

So, having many ‘sovereign’ and ‘independent’ states, the city of Karachi can rightly be called a ‘globe in microcosm’. Each state in the city has its own demarcated ‘territory’ that is almost a no-go area for any other and with whom no one is allowed to interfere with.

Each state has its own system of governance, hierarchy of command, official language and distinctive ethnicity.

Likewise, each state has its own system of ‘taxation’ preferably the direct one such as extortion, ransom and alike.

These states are equally at full liberty to grant anyone within its territory a ‘licence to kill’ and may impose upon any of its inhabitant a ‘liability to be killed’ as, under the state law, one may be presumed to be guilty until he is proven dead.

As each state has always been willing and trying to extend its limits and influence, the inhabitants within other state’s territory, therefore, inter-state clashes and skirmishes are very common here.

The oldest state in the city, being the ‘superpower’, is very particular in this regard and has been eager to demand and establish its absolute domination over the city.

The role of the Sindh government is none other than that of the UN while dealing with these states. It often remains either a silent spectator or a passive collaborator by paying just lip-service during all the intrastate and interstate conflicts.

It has always acted in accordance with the provisions of its newly-formulated ‘charter of reconciliation’ while using its premier ‘peacekeeping’ force in the city — the Karachi police.

The superpower, unlike the other states within the city, does believe in the electoral process. For this, it has been excessively obsessed and, perhaps, equally blessed too.

It is quite obvious that the government has nothing to do with these states. Nevertheless, they may have much appeal for the students of modern political philosophy.

MOHSIN RAZA MALIK Lahore