Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Karachi Tops List of World's Largest Cities

With rapid urbanization in Pakistan, Karachi has become the world's biggest city with a metro area population of 18 million people, according to Citymayors stats published recently.

Karachi (Urdu: کراچی, Sindhi: ڪراچي, Karāchi) is followed by Mumbai, Delhi, Buenos Aires, Seoul, Jakarta, Manila, Sao Paulo, Shanghai and Istanbul making up the top 10 list. Bangladesh capital Dhaka is at number 12, barely missing a top 10 slot. Of these, Mumbai, Dhaka and Delhi also have the dubious distinction of making Mercer's list of world's dirtiest cities. In another survey, Mercer has ranked Karachi as the fourth cheapest city for expatriates.



The list of the world’s largest cities, by land area, is headed by New York Metro, with a total area of 8,700 square kilometers. Tokyo/Yokohama is in second place with almost 7,000 square kilometers, followed by ten cities from the United States. Mumbai (Bombay), with a population density of almost 30,000 people per square kilometer, is the world’s most crowded city. Kolkata (Calcutta), Karachi and Lagos follow behind.



In 2008, the US based NPR radio did a series on Karachi titled "Karachi: The Urban Frontier". It highlighted the following facts about Karachi:

1. Karachi is built along a natural harbor facing the Arabian Sea, and this central location between the Middle East and India has made Karachi an important trading port for hundreds of years.

2. Karachi encompasses both its old seafront district and a sprawling web of commercial and residential development that covers almost 1,400 square miles. Its contemporary landscape spans skyscrapers, posh golf resorts, congested roadways and sprawling squatter colonies.

3. The Port of Karachi handles 60 percent of Pakistan's cargo, and the Karachi Stock Exchange is one of Asia's most active trading markets (The data for 1999-2009 shows that Karachi share market significantly outperformed Hong Kong, Mumbai and Shanghai markets). The city's main industries include shipping, trade, finance, banking, information technology, manufacturing, real estate, media and education.

4. Like any big city, it has its share of problems. Pollution, crime, corruption and political volatility are just some of the issues confronting the 12 million to 18 million "Karachiites" who call this overcrowded city home. Karachi is 60 times larger than it was when Pakistan was created in 1947. And with the population growing at an annual rate of 6 percent, one of the biggest challenges for city officials is managing the tensions and violence that often flare along ethnic and religious lines.

5. Karachi is growing so fast that estimates of its population range from 12 million to 18 million. The country's financial capital is also a city where about half the population lives in illegal houses.

Here are some figures for Karachi population I received from the editors of citymayors.com:

YEAR Urban Population
1856 56,875
1872 56,753
1881 73,560
1891 105,199
1901 136,297
1911 186,771
1921 244,162
1931 300,799
1941 435,887
1951 1,068,459
1961 1,912,598
1972 3,426,310
1981 5,208,132
1998 9,269,265
2006 13,969,284
2007 14,500,000

Since Karachi population has been growing at about 4-6% a year recently, the 18 million figure for Karachi in 2009 makes sense.

The mayors of the world’s twenty largest cities are each responsible for more people than most national prime ministers. For example, London, ranked 20th in the world, has more residents than nations like Paraguay, Denmark, New Zealand or Ireland, and if Karachi, globally the largest city, was a country it would rank above Greece, Portugal or Hungary. The combined population of the world’s eight megacities - cities with more than 10 million inhabitants - comfortably exceeds that of Germany.



Urbanization is not just a side effect of economic growth; it is an integral part of the process, according to the World Bank. With the robust economic growth averaging 7 percent and availability of millions of new jobs created between 2000 and 2008, there has been increased rural to urban migration in Pakistan to fill the jobs in growing manufacturing and service sectors. The level of urbanization in Pakistan is now the highest in South Asia, and its urban population is likely to equal its rural population by 2030, according to a report titled ‘Life in the City: Pakistan in Focus’, released by the United Nations Population Fund. Pakistan ranks 163 and India at 174 on a list of over 200 countries compiled by Nationmaster. The urban population now contributes about three quarters of Pakistan's gross domestic product and almost all of the government revenue. The industrial sector contributes over 27% of the GDP, higher than the 19% contributed by agriculture, with services accounting for the rest of the GDP.



A 2008 report by UN Population Fund says the share of the urban population in Pakistan almost doubled from 17.4 percent in 1951 to 32.5 percent in 1998. The estimated data for 2005 shows the level of urbanization as 35 per cent, and CIA Factbook puts it at 36% in 2008. An expected positive consequence of the increasing urbanization of society in Pakistan will be the creation of over 100 million strong middle class by 2030, making Pakistan's grass roots democracy more viable and responsive to the needs of the people. This large urban population will not only create a domestic market for goods and services, but it can create a skilled work force that can be the engine of economic growth and source of innovation.

According to the 1998 census, Sindh is the most urbanized province with 49 percent percent of the population living in urban centers. NWFP is the least urbanized province with only 17 percent of its population living in urban areas.

With Pakistan already the most urbanized country in South Asia, Karachi's population has been growing at a rate of over 4 percent a year for decades, according to the editors at Citymayors.com. Karachi now accounts for about 12 percent of the nation's population, and Mustafa Kamal as its mayor is accountable to a larger population than the presidents or prime ministers of many nations of the world. As the nation continues to experience increasing rural-to-urban migration, the jobs of the big city mayors in Pakistan, particularly Karachi and Lahore, are becoming significantly more important and challenging than generally recognized. How these mayors deal with these challenges will largely determine the fate of the nation, in terms of education, health care, housing, transportation, industrial and service sectors' growth, job growth and overall economic activities, as well as the future of democracy.

When visitors see a squatter city in India or Pakistan or Bangladesh, they observe overwhelming desperation: rickety shelters, little kids working or begging, absence of sanitation, filthy water and air. However, there are many benefits of rural to urban migration for migrants' lives, including reduction in abject poverty, empowerment of women, increased access to healthcare and education and other services. Historically, cities have been driving forces in economic and social development. As centers of industry and commerce, cities have long been centers of wealth and power. They also account for a disproportionate share of national income. The World Bank estimates that in the developing world, as much as 80 percent of future economic growth will occur in towns and cities. Nor are the benefits of urbanization solely economic. Urbanization is associated with higher incomes, improved health, higher literacy, and improved quality of life. Other benefits of urban life are less tangible but no less real: access to information, diversity, creativity, and innovation.

In a recent interview published by Wired Magazine, Stewart Brand, "the pioneering environmentalist, technology thinker", and founder of the Whole Earth Catalog focused on the positive aspects of urban slums. Brand also made a counterintuitive case that the booming slums and squatter cities around the major urban centers in the developing world are net positives for poor people and the environment. Brand's arguments make a lot of sense, as long as there are representative city governments responsive to the growing needs of the new and old city residents.

Here's a video clip of Indian environment minister Jairam Ramesh saying "if there was a Nobel Prize for dirt and filth, India would win it hands down":



Related Links:

Karachi Tops Mumbai in Stock Performace
Eleven Days in Karachi
Citymayors website

Pakistan Most Urbanized in South Asia

Karachi: The Urban Frontier

Do Asia's Urban Slums Offer Hope?

Orangi is Not Dharavi

Climate Change Could Flood Karachi Coastline

Karachi Fourth Cheapest For Expats

Karachi City Government

Karachi Dreams Big

19 comments:

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some figure for Karachi population I got from the editors of citymayors.com:

YEAR Urban Population
1856 56,875
1872 56,753
1881 73,560
1891 105,199
1901 136,297
1911 186,771
1921 244,162
1931 300,799
1941 435,887
1951 1,068,459
1961 1,912,598
1972 3,426,310
1981 5,208,132
1998 9,269,265
2006 13,969,284
2007 14,500,000

Since Karachi population has been growing at about 4-6% a year lately, the 18 million figure for Karachi makes sense.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a British report of India complaining about "poverty porn":

Diplomatic officials are preparing to lodge a complaint with Ofcom, the media watchdog, about the content of McCloud's Channel 4 series, Slumming It.

In the two-part documentary, the Grand Designs host visited Mumbai's squalid Dharavi slum. It showed children living amongst open sewers, dead rats and toxic waste, and residents scavenging on the city's rubbish dump.

Sources say the Indian High Commission in London granted a filming permit in the belief that McCloud was making a programme highlighting Mumbai's architectural history, and officials were horrified to see the end result.

"We thought it would be about the architecture of Mumbai but it was only about slums, nothing else. He was showing dirty sewage and dead rats, children playing amongst rubbish and people living in these small rooms. He never talked about architecture at all.

"This was poverty porn made to get ratings, and we are upset," the source said.

"Many people know India but for people who don't travel, they will think all of India is like this. Of course it will affect our tourism. It is not representative at all.

"We are not saying, 'Don't show Dharavi', but the show was not balanced. There is so much more to Mumbai and so much more to India."

The original synopsis submitted by the programme-makers said: "Kevin McCloud's passions are buildings and people and he will explore the architecture of Mumbai... Maharashtrian, British, Gothic and post-modern."

The source said: "When the production company applied, they said the name of the documentary was going to be Grand Designs. They said it was part of a 'celebration of all things India' and that he would look at different kinds of architecture. He didn't do any of this.

"Only occasionally did he mention the community spirit and the low crime rate and the fact that rubbish is recycled there.

"People forget that this nation is 60 years old. We are a young nation and it's not easy to bring 300 million people out of poverty just like that."

Slumming It was part of Channel 4's ongoing Indian Winter season. Of the five programmes shown so far, four have been set in the Mumbai slums, including a 'Slumdog' version of The Secret Millionaire.

The source accused Channel 4 of "cashing in on the success of Slumdog Millionaire", the Oscar-winning film which kicked off the season.

McCloud has praised the community spirit in Dharavi, claiming that the British government could use it as a model for "social sustainability". The Prince of Wales has hailed Dharavi as a model for urban planning.

In a joint statement, Channel 4 and the production company, talkbackThames, said: "We have not received a complaint from the India High Commission. The programme explores if city planners and architects can learn from the way Asia’s biggest slum has evolved and developed high levels of sustainability. Kevin McCloud follows everyday life in Dharavi and the film is a balanced and insightful account of his experience there.

"While it raises issues such as acute levels of poverty and the lack of sanitation, the programme also highlights many positive aspects of life in Dharavi such as the real sense of community as well as low levels of crime and unemployment. We believe that the film raises some important points around the issues of poverty, sustainability and city planning and is clearly in the public interest.”

Riaz Haq said...

There's been a rash of teenage suicides in Mumbai this year, according to a BBC report:

Inexplicably, teenage suicides have become an almost daily occurrence in Maharashtra - one of India's most developed states - and its capital Mumbai (Bombay).

The toll of teenage suicides from the beginning of the year until 26 January 2010 stood at 32, which is more than one a day.

While there are no comparative figures for the same period in 2009, there is a consensus among the concerned authorities in Mumbai that teenage suicides are spiralling out of control.

There is also a general agreement between psychologists and teachers that the main reason for the high number of teenagers taking their own lives is the increasing pressure on children to perform well in exams.

The scale of this largely preventable problem is dizzying - both in India with its billion-plus people and particularly in the state of in Maharashtra.

More than 100,000 people commit suicide in India every year and three people a day take their own lives in Mumbai.

Suicide is one of the top three causes of death among those aged between 15 and 35 years and has a devastating psychological, social and financial impact on families and friends.

'Needless toll'

World Health Organisation Assistant Director-General Catherine Le Gals-Camus points out more people die from suicide around the world than from all homicides and wars combined.

"There is an urgent need for co-ordinated and intensified global action to prevent this needless toll. For every suicide death there are scores of family and friends whose lives are devastated emotionally, socially and economically," she says.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from a New York Times story about potentially disastrous quakes that could hit developing world, including Karachi in Pakistan:

"...The focus is great earthquakes that, without any doubt, will someday hammer great cities. The case study is Istanbul, but it could just as easily be Lima or Katmandu or Karachi or a host of other fast-growing urban centers in developing countries.

Istanbul is best known these days as a thriving commercial hub and tourist spot, but its record of devastating quakes is etched in centuries of artwork..."

"...As Dr. Bilham explains, the human pulse of population growth and urbanization has come largely in gaps between known megaquakes that have occurred cyclically in a great arc from the European ranges through the Himalayas and across the Pacific. (Joel Achenbach of the Washington Post has written a nice piece on the superimposition of big cities and fault zones.)

Combine the growth and poverty with greed and a lack of governance, he says, and you are building megadisasters.

“Buildings are being constructed right now Pakistan and Iran that are almost designed to kill their occupants when the earthquake comes, and it will,” Dr. Bilham told me...."

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an AFP report about the probability of a major earthquake in Karachi:

Legend has it that seven revered Islamic saints whose shrines are located across Karachi have for centuries protected the southwestern Pakistani city from disaster.

But after another deadly earthquake killed up to 300 people in Baluchistan last month, there are fears that the presence of the saints may not be enough to protect all the 14 million people who live here from death and destruction.

Deep beneath the bustling port city, the Indian, Arabian and Eurasian tectonic plates are in constant friction, with the potential to wreak havoc above.

As a result, seismologists say Karachi is as much at risk from earthquakes as Los Angeles.

But unlike the sprawling US west coast city, or other supercities lying on or near faultlines, Pakistan's business capital is ill-equipped to cope if disaster strikes, according to experts.

"The earthquakes in other parts of the country are warnings for us and we should take them seriously," Noman Ahmed, an architect associated with Karachi's NED University of Engineering and Technology, told AFP.

"We are not realising the danger we are surrounded by."

Once known for its suburban green spaces and tree-lined streets, Karachi is now a concrete jungle of haphazard settlements, sprawling upwards and outwards as far as the eye can see. More than half the population live in slums.

Ahmed estimates that virtually all of the city's 500,000 buildings are structurally unsound.

"Not more than five percent of our buildings are constructed by following the building rules. The rest are self-built by builders without taking any professional advice," he added.

"You can see negligible provisions for evacuation or accessibility in our buildings. There are no fire or hazard escapes in the majority of structures."

Civic leaders, including Karachi's deputy mayor, Nasreen Jalil, also admit that most of the city's buildings are not built to absord strong earthquake shocks and the public is unaware of the need to take precautions.

Although that follows a trend in the country as a whole, Ahmed said he also fears for the safety of other structures.

"Our bridges have no accessibility provisions. Most bridges have either completed their designated age or are bearing excessive load. They are dangerous because there is no building monitoring here," he said.

"We have underground water and electricity conduits and gas lines, which could expose extra dangers in the wake of a major disaster."

Riaz Haq said...

Here is a recent NY Times report on violence in Karachi:

KARACHI, Pakistan — This chaotic city of 18 million people on the shores of the Arabian Sea has never shrunk from violence. But this year, Karachi has outdone even itself.

Drive-by shootings motivated by political and ethnic rivalries have reached new heights. Marauding gangs are grabbing tracts of land to fatten their electoral rolls. Drug barons are carving out fiefs, and political parties are commonly described as having a finger in all of it.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan recently reported that more than 1,350 people had been killed in Karachi in targeted political killings so far this year, more than the number killed in terrorist attacks in all of Pakistan.

That tally has solidified Karachi’s grim distinction as Pakistan’s most deadly place, outside its actual war zones, where the army is embroiled in pushing back a Taliban insurgency.

Indeed, it is the effect of the war, which has displaced many thousands of ethnic Pashtuns from the northern tribal areas and sent them to this southern port, that has inflamed Karachi’s always volatile ethnic balance. For the most part, extremists who torment the rest of Pakistan with suicide bomb attacks exploit the turmoil here to hide, recruit and raise funds.

The attack last week on the police headquarters by a suicide bomber that killed dozens was the exception, the first attack by extremists against a government institution in the city. Far more common have been killing by gangs affiliated with ethnic-based political parties hunting for turf in a city undergoing seismic demographic change.

Karachi has long been dominated by ethnic Mohajirs, Urdu-speaking people who left India in the 1947 partition and who have been represented politically by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, commonly known as the M.Q.M.

The M.Q.M. has a long association with violence. In 1992, the army moved into Karachi to suppress it, accusing it of a four-year rampage of torture and murder. During what amounted to a two-year occupation by the army, “several thousand” people were killed, according to accounts at the time.

The latest challenge to the M.Q.M.’s hold is the influx of Pashtuns who have fled the war to seek work and shelter in Karachi’s slums. Though the Pashtuns number some five million here now, they remain politically underrepresented, and the frustrations of the newcomers have increasingly been channeled into violent retribution by the Awami National Party, or A.N.P.

The two sides have set their gangs on each other. In August, after a senior M.Q.M. member was shot to death at a funeral, more than 100 people were killed in a weeklong orgy of violence.

The army, asked by some political parties to move in again and keep the peace, declined. During the by-election last month to fill the provincial assembly seat left vacant by the murder, more than 30 people were killed.

In that rampage, members of a self-styled people’s peace committee affiliated with the Pakistan Peoples Party, which leads the national government and considers this province, Sindh, its base, stormed an outdoor market on motorcycles and shot 12 Mohajir shopkeepers, the police said.

Hours later, seven men of ethnic Baluch origin were killed, apparently in revenge for the deaths of the Mohajirs, said Zafar Baloch, a spokesman for the peace committee.

Amber Alibhai, the secretary general of Citizens for a Better Environment, said: “If our government is not going to wake up, I fear Karachi will have ethnic cleansing like Bosnia. There’s no one to stop it. Who’s going to stop it? The police? The army? They can’t.”

The cost of Karachi’s violence hurts all of Pakistan. More liberal than the rest of the country in decorum and religious belief, Karachi is the economic engine of the nation, home to petrochemical plants, steel works, advertising agencies and high-tech start-ups....

Riaz Haq said...

Here is part 2 of a recent NY Times report on violence in Karachi:

The cost of Karachi’s violence hurts all of Pakistan. More liberal than the rest of the country in decorum and religious belief, Karachi is the economic engine of the nation, home to petrochemical plants, steel works, advertising agencies and high-tech start-ups.

The rich live in grand houses in gated communities paved with broad boulevards. The poor live in neighborhoods like Lyari, a slum with little sanitation, fleeting electricity and hardscrabble roads that sits under an expressway.

Other megacities in the developing world — like Shanghai and Mumbai — manage law and order through political leadership that is absent in Karachi, said Farrukh Saleem, a political analyst who writes in The News, a national newspaper.

A scared, understaffed and in some cases complicit police force compounds the problem. That was the message of a new report by a parliamentary committee that said 603 police officers had been assassinated since 1996. This year, 33 officers have been killed, the report said.

Many of these senior police officers were targeted, the report said, as retribution for the military action against the M.Q.M. in 1992, a sign of the long memory of the M.Q.M.

But it is the persistent lack of Pashtun representation in the city and provincial governments that underlies the troubles, said Abdul Qadir Patel, the chairman of the committee that wrote the report and a Pakistan Peoples Party member of Parliament. “The Pashtuns are frustrated and the A.N.P. says, ‘We’ll fight back,’ ” Mr. Patel said.

In rare candor for a Pakistani government document, his report said “ethnicity, sectarianism, perceived insecurity due to demographic changes, gang war between mafias and clash of interests among workers of political parties have been the real cause of violence in Karachi.”

Of 178 boroughs in the 18 towns of Karachi, only 4 are controlled by the Pashtuns. Of 168 seats in the provincial assembly of Sindh, where Karachi is located, the A.N.P., the party of the Pashtuns, has just 2.

Based on Karachi’s demographics, Pashtuns “could have up to 25 seats in the provincial legislature,” Mr. Saleem wrote. “That is political power way out of sync with demographic realities.”

As part of the push and pull in the demographic war, the major political parties use armed thugs to commandeer public land so they can gerrymander election districts, said Mrs. Alibhai of the citizens’ group. One of her group’s workers was killed last year trying to protect a park.

“Land grabbing is used by political parties to increase their electoral mandate and enhance their financial position,” she said.

A recent former M.Q.M. mayor of Karachi, Syed Mustafa Kamal, denied that his party, which has long been favored by Washington for its secular outlook, was involved in the killing of Pashtuns.

Mr. Kamal, who as mayor from 2005 until this year is credited with extending running water to several Pashtun neighborhoods, said Karachi was the rightful home of the Mohajirs. The Pashtun, he said, harbor the Taliban and foment terrorist attacks. “We are the victims,” he insisted.

The gruesome clash between the Mohajirs and the Pashtuns has spread recently to the stalls in Gulshen Town, a Mohajir-dominated area, where people sip tea and chat.

There, Pashtun waiters who deliver hunks of roasted lamb to truck drivers at curbside tables, have become targets, said Noorullah Achakzai, the chairman of a union of hotel workers.

In April, Abdul Rehman, 35, said he was eating lunch with a friend when six men on three motorcycles fired at them. “I got one bullet, my friend got one, the others were scattered,” he said.

Mr. Rehman showed a long scar across his stomach. His friend died, one of the first, Mr. Achakzai said, of 52 outdoor waiters killed in Karachi this year..

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BBC report on "targeted killings" in Karachi:

At least 50 people have been killed over the past fortnight in targeted killings in the Pakistani city of Karachi, rights groups say.

The violence started with an attack on 12 March on the offices of a local political group allied to Pakistan's governing political party, the PPP.

Dozens of people have since been targeted on an ethnic or sectarian basis across Karachi.

Police officials say most of those killed belong to the Pashtun community.

Karachi has been the scene of growing ethnic tensions due to the arrival of thousands of Pashtuns fleeing conflict in north-western Pakistan.
'Politically motivated attacks'

Police say the number killed is lower than the estimate put forward by human rights groups.

"According to the figures we have, 109 people have died in violent incidents since 12 March," Saud Mirza, chief of Police in Karachi, told the BBC.

"Out of these only 34 people have been killed in politically motivated attacks."

But the police statistics are contested by local journalists and human rights activists, who say that the actual number of victims is much higher.

They say that the police only confirm political activists or leaders as dying in targeted killings - whereas in reality many more die in attacks carried out against people of specific ethnicities by gunmen.

While most of the dead are ordinary citizens - usually belonging to the Pashtun community - civilians from the Baloch and Urdu-speaking community have also died.

Local Pashtun activists say Karachi's largest party, the MQM, is behind most of the violence. The MQM denies this.

On Monday, a senior MQM leader blamed the violence on gangs of extortionists and land grabbers who had taken the city hostage.

Dr Farooq Sattar was speaking after President Asif Zardari said in an address to parliament that those destroying the peace in Karachi would be dealt with severely.

However police say that several arrests have been made of individuals involved in the killings.

"The situation is now being brought under control," police chief Saud Mirza said.

But human rights organisations say the situation in Karachi is increasingly dangerous and a cause for great concern.

"The continued spate of targeted political killings in Karachi is appalling, as is the inability of the political actors in the city to negotiate their differences peacefully," said Ali Dayan Hasan, Pakistan representative of Human Rights Watch.

"It is the job of the provincial and central governments to ensure the writ of the state is established in the metropolis.

"They must ensure that all political parties complicit in these target killings - whether part of the provincial coalition or not - should be held to account.

"It is a documented fact that all political forces in Karachi, whether it is the MQM or the state, have engaged in human rights abuses including targeted killings in the past."

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from a BBC report on violence in Karachi:

According to human rights organisations, 775 people died in political and sectarian shootings and bomb attacks in Karachi in 2010. ...
And although thousands are killed every year in the north-west, the impact of the violence in Karachi is arguably no less important. The city is Pakistan's commercial hub.
Business losses
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Karachi provides 70% of the total annual tax revenue collected by the government.
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The violence has been largely fuelled by antagonism between the local chapters of three political parties: the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), the mostly Pashtun Awami National Party (ANP) and the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM).
---------
The MQM remains Karachi's dominant political party and represents the city's majority Urdu-speaking community - the descendants of Muslim migrants to India at the time of partition in 1947.

In December 2010, Sindh Home Minister Zulfiqar Mirza accused the MQM of being mainly responsible for the extortion and targeted killings prevalent across the city.

Within 48 hours, an enraged MQM withdrew its support for the PPP-led coalition in Islamabad.

The only reason the government could hold onto power was because opposition parties did not bring a no-confidence motion against the government.

The MQM has since been coaxed back into the coalition and now holds the political balance.

However, tensions remain with the ANP and the PPP.
-------------
In Karachi, all three parties have been involved in stoking ethnic passions.
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Thousands were arrested; many were were later killed in what human rights organisations and the Pakistan media said were staged killings by security forces.

The MQM fought back - and was held responsible for a number of murders of police and security officials

The party said it was targeted by a conservative security establishment for its liberal politics and for fighting for the rights of the Urdu-speaking community.

Things changed under the government of President Pervez Musharraf and the party now enjoys excellent relations with the establishment.

"The MQM's 'new deal' with the establishment is that its control of Karachi will remain unchallenged by the security establishment," a political analyst, who wished to remain unnamed, told the BBC.

"In return, the MQM will support the establishment's policies in the centre."

MQM insiders acknowledge this deal, although they insist the party will never vote for "anything against the spirit of its ideology".

Obviously, this deal stands as long as the MQM controls Karachi.

But since 2006, the party has been increasingly feeling the pressure exerted by the growth of the Pashtun community in the city.
Activists of the Labour Party Pakistan in Karachi in march 2011 Karachi is home to a bewildering number of political parties and campaigning groups

Arriving here in their thousands, the Pashtun newcomers are in competition for land and jobs with the Urdu-speaking community.

MQM leaders say these new arrivals must not be treated as long-term inhabitants of the city - a call at odds with its identity as a party of migrants.

They say that there is a link between the growth of the Pashtun community and the "Talibanisation" of parts of the city - the Taliban is predominantly made up of Pashtun people.

The MQM say they will resist this at all costs, and this bellicosity has led to violence which has claimed dozens of lives.

Some of it has also involved separate turf battles between Karachi's Baloch community - the original inhabitants of the city - and the MQM.

"It's a complex political and ethnic problem which needs to be handled with extreme care," says a local human rights activist.
---

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Daily Times report on the inauguration of Port Grand Food Street in Karachi:

KARACHI: Governor Sindh Dr Ishrat Ul Ebad has said that mega economic hub like Karachi that houses millions of people, needs lots of recreational and entertainment places where entertainment-starved citizens could find some peace, comfort and entertainment which provides much-needed breather to continue with our hectic schedules.
Governor Sindh expressed these views while inaugurating the much-awaited Port Grand Food and Entertainment Complex on Saturday. Federal Minister for Ports and Shipping Babur Khan Ghauri and Shahid Firoz, Managing Director Grand leisure Corporation was also present.
----
Dr Ishrat ul Ebad said that Port Grand Complex is an effort to revive the culture and traditions of old Karachi as well as to celebrate it as the City of Lights. “It would surely revive the harbor culture in a port city like Karachi,” Ebad said.
He appreciated Grand Leisure Corporation for resurrection of history and heritage as it has not only preserved the 19th century’s Napier Mole Bridge but has also converted it into a world-class tourist spot that would ultimately attract millions of people from all over the world.
---
Babar Ghauri said that Port Grand is a bold initiative by a private sector company despite the economic, law and order and political uncertainties in the country. He applauded the relentless efforts of Shahid Firoz, Managing Director Grand Leisure Corporation for making it a reality.
Babar Ghauri said that Port Grand project is country’s only-sea-side food and entertainment enclave, which would offer matchless attractions for the whole family to enjoy together. “Port Grand is expected to attract around 4 to 5 thousand people daily from across the country,” he hoped.
The Port Grand Complex, which has been built at 19th century’s Napier Mole Bridge (old native jetty bridge) was conceived and built by Grand Leisure Corporation with an investment of over Rs 1 billion. GLC’s scope of work includes financing, construction, maintenance and operation of all aspects pertaining to the Port Grand.
About 40 outlets have been made operational at this stage while more outlets would be opened soon. The entry fee for the Port Grand would be Rs 300 per person out of which Rs 200 would be redeemable at different food outlets and shops inside the project. The project would be open for public from Sunday evening.
Shahid Firoz, Managing Director Grand leisure Corporation informed that Port Grand project, that stretches along the 1000 feet. Karachi’s ancient 19th century native jetty bridge, spreads over an area of 200,000 square feet. The one kilometer bridge has been transformed into an entertainment and food enclave housing numerous eateries totaling 40,000 sq ft of climate-controlled area and space for kiosks of exotic Pakistani and foreign food and a variety of beverages.
He informed that the work on the project commenced in 2005 and it was expected to be completed by 2009 but the old native jetty bridge was in very bad shape after being abandoned for any transportation usage and it was also set to be demolished when Port Grand project was conceived and ancient 19th centaury monument was preserved for generations to come. GLC had to almost rebuild the whole 1 mile Old Napier Mole Bridge that includes removal of old deck slab, cleaning of rust and scaling of existing structure, strengthening of sub-structure and laying of new deck slab. This all work took around 2 year to completely revamped the bridge thus delayed the project for around 2 years.

Riaz Haq said...

Some 700 people have been killed in more than half a dozen militant attacks in Mumbai since 1993, including the horrific assault in November 2008. And the violence shows no signs of abating, according to Soutik Biswas of the BBC:

The most commonly peddled narrative is that by attacking its much touted financial and entertainment capital, you deal a body blow to India and get global media attention. But that is only a small part of the story. Many residents will tell you that Mumbai began going downhill in early 1993 when it convulsed in religious rioting and murder for two weeks following the demolition of the Babri mosque by Hindu fanatics in December 1992. At least 900 people died, mostly Muslims. Two months after the riots, the underworld set off series of bombs to avenge the riots, killing more than 250 people. Many of them were Muslims too.

That is when the rule of law broke down, many say irretrievably. A 1998 two-volume report on the religious riots was ignored by successive governments, who failed to prosecute politicians and policemen involved in the rioting. At the same time, the authorities were seen to proceed swiftly with prosecuting those involved in the bombings, leading to allegations that the government was anti-Muslim. The seeds of mistrust between the two largest communities in India's most cosmopolitan city had been firmly planted.

The image of Mumbai as a liberal city ruled by law and reason has long turned out to be a chimera, according to Gyan Prakash, author of Mumbai Fables, a much acclaimed book on the restless city. Over the years, say many analysts, the state's authority has been eroded as a nexus of greedy politicians, a thriving underworld, unscrupulous property developers and a discredited police force seem to have been ruling the roost, undermining institutions.

Last month, gunmen shot dead the city's leading crime journalist on a rainy morning and zipped away openly on their motorbikes. A block of flats meant for war widows was allegedly grabbed by politicians, retired army officers and other such privileged folks, until the courts stepped in. "Conspiracies hatched by politicians, builders, criminals, Hindu militants and Muslim dons appeared to be the underlying dynamic of the city. Anger and violence ruled the street," wrote Mr Prakash of the city in the mid-1990s. Not much has changed - the poisonous cocktail endures, and makes the city easy to attack. The rich in Mumbai, as a friend says, live with one foot in New York and one foot in the city. The poor and the middle-class bleed.

Behind the deceptive facade of its glitzy nightlife, fancy ocean-front flats owned by film stars and businessmen, and India's most expensive building, owned by its richest man, Mumbai is a tired and bitter city, being eaten up from within. The majority of its people live in slums, and millions live on the streets. This cannot make for a very happy place, and the city's "resilient spirit" has now become the cruellest Indian cliche. And what attracts religious extremists to launch attacks here? They are appalled, says the city's most famous chronicler, Suketu Mehta, that Mumbai stands for "lucre, profane dreams and indiscriminate openness".

Many believe the city's explosive growth - Mumbai is expected to be home to 23 million people by 2015 - is driving it towards urban and social extremes. "If Mumbai is the future of civilisation on the planet," Mr Mehta famously wrote, "then God help us." In many ways, India's richest - and most vulnerable - city is also its most dystopic. For me, it conjures up images, all at once, of wealthy Manhattan, lawless Chicago during the 1920s, and the most infamous fictional city, Gotham.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-14140991

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Guardian newspaper report on Ramadan violence in Karachi and Zulfiqar Mirza's claims of MQM culpability:

Weeks of violent mayhem that have left more than 1,000 dead in Pakistan's biggest city culminated on Sunday in troops entering a gangster-run district in an attempt to end the violence.

The holy month of Ramadan, supposedly a time of piety, has only increased the slaughter on Karachi's streets, with beheadings and horrifically mutilated bodies dumped in sacks in gutters, the debris from a war between gangs divided on ethnic lines.

Over the weekend, the prime minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, described the violence in Karachi as the country's "greatest challenge".

In an extraordinary televised press conference on Sunday, a senior official of the ruling Pakistan Peoples party (PPP) accused the interior minister, Rehman Malik, also of the same party, of culpability in the killings in Karachi.

Zulfiqar Mirza, the senior PPP provincial minister, claimed he had proof that Malik was "hand in glove with the killers".

Mirza resigned on Sunday, claiming that the city's largest political party, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), was behind the bloodshed, allegations that could spark more trouble.

While holding a copy of the Qur'an, Mirza said the MQM was responsible for kidnapping, extortion and violence, including the killing of the journalist Wali Khan Babar, 28, earlier this year. "I am saying it openly that the MQM killed him," he told a news conference televised live around the country.

The MQM was not available for comment about the unusually blunt accusations.

The gang turf war is also a political and financial struggle about the control of extortion rackets – known as bhatta – with three mainstream political parties all drawing support from different ethnic groups and each having a criminal underworld following in the city.

The bloodshed has essentially pitted a gang associated with the PPP, the party of President Asif Ali Zardari, against thugs linked to the MQM, headed by Altaf Hussain, who lives in exile in London.

The MQM has long dominated Karachi but it is being challenged by the PPP and the third significant player, the Awami National party (ANP), which represents the city's huge ethnic Pashtun population, originally from north-west Pakistan. The MQM's base is provided by the Mohajirs, people who migrated to the city from northern India during the partition.

British diplomats have been active behind the scenes, pressuring all sides to quell the violence, which is crippling Pakistan's economic heart.

The MQM, the ANP and Karachi's business community have in recent days called for the army to intervene, with at least 1,000 people falling prey to the tit-for-tat killings this year – easily eclipsing the violence by religious extremists across the rest of the country.

But the PPP fears that deployment of the army could eventually topple its three-year-old government and Pakistan's latest, western-backed, experiment with democracy. The paramilitary units deployed, the Rangers, come under civilian control.

The Rangers uncovered torture chambers and arms caches during raids on Sunday in the Lyari district, a PPP stronghold. One dank basement shown to journalists contained a chair with handcuffs and padlocks attached. Two earlier attempts to enter Lyari failed.

The gangs often fail to capture rival gang members, taking out their anger instead on anyone from other ethnic groups – many innocent victims are innocent bystanders, often abducted or killed.

---

Another senior security official in Karachi said: "The MQM doesn't want to share the cake. But the others want their slice."


http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/aug/28/karachi-gang-wars-intervention

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Dawn report on US investment to build a modern 28-story building in Karachi:

WASHINGTON: A U.S. finance institution, Overseas Private Investment Corporation, announced on Monday to extend a $20 million loan towards completion of a 28-story office building in Karachi.

Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, who presided over the signing ceremony of the arrangement, hailed the transaction, saying it represents the tremendous opportunities existing between the two countries for stronger economic cooperation.

“I hope this is the beginning of a long-term association,” Dr Shaikh said. The presence of the modern building will help the country attract multinational investors by meeting an urgent need for top-quality office space.

The property will feature several green building characteristics, including a natural-gas fired cogeneration power plant which will increase its energy efficiency and mitigate negative environmental impacts.

Project sponsor TPL Properties expects to complete construction of the Centrepoint office building in central Karachi in 2012, and will then begin leasing space to large local and multinational organizations.

“This is a sign of close cooperation between Pakistan and the United States — the private sectors of the two countries have huge potential to further expand bilateral relationship,” Ali Jameel, Chief Executive Officer of TPL Holdings, said.

In the process, the project will provide new management and professional employment opportunities with benefits, including those specific to female employees. The building will be fully automated, with world-class IT and security systems.

This office building will help Karachi meet a growing need for high- quality office space, creating professional jobs in the process and becoming only the second property in the city to offer services such as world-class IT and security systems, OPIC President and CEO Elizabeth Littlefield said.

“We expect that its many green building features will encourage similarly environmentally-conscious construction in Pakistan.”

In addition to the cogeneration plant, the office space will feature an exhaust heat recovery system, air dehumidification using heating pipes, condensation collection for water usage, efficient lighting fixtures, and clean eco-friendly refrigerants used for air conditioning.


http://www.dawn.com/2011/09/27/us-corp-provides-20-mn-loan-for-building-project.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here are a few excerpts from Wall Street Journal story titled Fashion Weeks Gone Wild, From Aruba to Karachi:

If it's Thursday, it's fashion week somewhere.

This month alone includes fashion weeks in Moscow, Karachi, Houston, Tokyo and Portland, Oregon. Dubai fashion week begins today.

There have long been just four fashion weeks that matter in the industry: New York, Milan, Paris and London. At these events, designers parade their collections for retailers and try to make a splash in the fashion press.

But in the past five to 10 years, the numbers of cities and nations holding fashion weeks has burgeoned. There are more than 100 fashion weeks around the globe, from Islamabad to Rochester, N.Y. Event producer IMG is known for running New York fashion week, but it also produces fashion weeks in Aruba, Berlin, Zurich, Moscow, Toronto, Sydney and Miami, among others. Other locations have launched their own shows, hoping to boost their garment and retail trades.
------------
Overseas, fashion weeks often highlight regional talent and build the local economy. In Karachi this month, organizers tried to focus on business-building rather than thrilling local socialites. "Fashion in Pakistan for a long time has been an entertainment sport; at [Karachi Fashion Week], we are trying to really make it about the business of fashion," says spokesman Zurain Imam. Invitees were largely press and stores, with some Pakistani celebrities in the front rows. ...


http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204479504576639481685568742.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Newsweek piece by writer Kamila Shamsi about her native Karachi:

You can live in Karachi your entire life without ever glimpsing the sea. This fact would surely have astounded Alexander the Great’s general, Nearchus, who sailed from what was then a harbor known to the Greeks as Krokola; it would have doubtless come as an even greater surprise to the fisherwoman Mai Kolachi, from whom the port city likely derives its modern name. Until the mid-19th century, the city that has been called Krokola, Kolachi, Kurrachee, and Karachi was little more than a harbor or a fishing village, its existence based around the Arabian Sea. The British occupied it in 1839, at which time its population was between 8,000 and 14,000.

Population figures are hardly the most imaginative way to talk about the city, and yet with Karachi it is precisely the population figures that convey why it is impossible to hold the city within your imagination rather than grasping at fragments of it. Try to wrap your head around this: in 1947, at the time of Partition, more than half the city’s 400,000 inhabitants were Hindu, most of whom migrated (by choice or otherwise) to India, and yet, despite losing half its population, by 1951 the number of Karachiwallas had grown to more than a million. You lose 50 percent and still end up more than doubling the original population; this is mathematics Karachi style. Today the figure stands at somewhere between 15 million and 18 million.

While some cities rise up toward the sky in towers of concrete and steel to accommodate their growing populations, Karachi sprawls in ungainly fashion, covering 1,360 square miles. The old British cantonment area with its Gothic spires and Anglo-Mughal cupolas and art deco façades remained the center of the city until the 1960s; now it’s south of the center of south Karachi. You can live in Karachi and watch gulls swooping toward the blue-gray waves, or you can live miles inland in the shadow of barren hills, at danger from landslides. The city has a broad avenue called Sunset Boulevard, and it also has a slum named Mosquito Colony.
---------------
You’ll often hear Karachiwallas say there’s nowhere else in Pakistan they can happily live. I’ve heard it said more frequently by its women than its men. Karachi is hardly free of patriarchy, but its women are more visible, and more often to be seen in positions of authority, than elsewhere in the country. In February, when the city’s most powerful, and controversial, political party, the MQM, called for a women’s rally, the numbers that gathered were so vast (estimates vary from several hundred thousand to 1 million) that the BBC declared it the largest congregation of women ever organized in the world. In a city where votes are divided primarily along ethnic lines, it was heartening to imagine we were witnessing a new kind of campaigning—one that placed gender in the political arena and gave teeth to the phrase “women’s vote.” It sounds fanciful to me, until I remember that for the right price, Karachi buys and sells everything, even dreams.


http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/03/11/kamila-shamsie-reflects-on-karachi-pakistan.html

abhishek chaturvedi said...

lol.. comparing karachi and mumbai.. i've been to both cities...mumbai is way better in all terms.. i am from france and to be honest karachi sucks...mumbai is a global/alpha city karachi is no way near..and as far as dharavi is concerned its redevelopment is in progress.. also laws regarding cleanliness are obeyed .. i was charged some 500 indian rupess for spitting.. karachi has no such laws..however karachi is good in its own.. people are very humble and women very conservative.. karachi has the potential of becoming the best

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Express Trib on additional water and railway projects for Karachi:

The Greater Karachi Water Supply Scheme or K-IV will cost Rs29 billion to pump to the city an additional supply of 260 million gallons per day (mgd) from the Indus River.

The federal government had initially refused to finance the project, citing lack of funds. The bureaucrats sitting in the capital were of the view that since provincial autonomy had been granted after the 18th amendment, Sindh should fix its own water woes. Karachi wrung its hands in despair as it doesn’t even have enough money to pay garbage collectors.

But now, upon the intervention of President Asif Ali Zardari, the federal government has agreed to foot 33% of the bill in the first phase. The remaining funds will be arranged by the provincial and district governments. The project is expected to take four years.

The K-IV project has constantly hit snags since it was conceived in 2006 by then Karachi nazim Mustafa Kamal given the severe water shortage in Karachi. The city needs 1,000 mgd but the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board only provides around 600 mgd. Leaks and water theft are the biggest drains on the system.
---------
In another major development, the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (Ecnec) is likely to approve the Karachi Circular Railway project at its meeting to be held today (Thursday) in Islamabad.

The meeting will be presided over by Federal Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and attended by the chief secretaries and other officials from all provinces. PPP MPA Hasnain Mirza, the newly appointed member of Ecnec from Sindh, will represent the Sindh government along with senior bureaucrats of the province.

Official sources told The Express Tribune that Ecnec will take up the mega projects relating to energy, transpiration, water, industry and housing etc.

Around 14 schemes are from Sindh.

Other projects likely to be taken up at the meeting include connecting the Thar coal power transmission to national grid, the construction of Darawat Dam and Nai Gaaj Dam in Dadu district. These schemes were also presented in the last Ecnec meeting, but the government was asked to wait till next meeting.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/422664/capital-idea-after-six-years-islamabad-okays-karachis-water-project/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an APP report on proposed revival of Karachi Circular Railway:

The ECC which met here under the chairmanship of Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh was informed that Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has already agreed to provide 93.5pc ($2.4 billion) of the estimated cost through soft loan at a markup of 0.2pc payable in 40 years including 10 years grace period. The remaining 6.5pc ($169.6 million) will be borne by the Ministry of Railway (60pc equity), Government of Sindh (25pc equity) and the City District Government Karachi (15pc equity); the stakeholders of KUTC as per their share.



The track of the KCR will be 86 km long with 27 stations to be built around the city.



This important project will be a milestone in improving the quality of life of the citizens.



The ECC also approved the summary with special appreciation for the Ministry of Railways, the Government of Sindh and Karachi City Government for their efforts to get approved the most economic and viable project of Circular Railway for Karachi.





The ECC also discussed various agenda items of national importance. The following decisions were taken in the meeting;



At the outset of the meeting the ECC members offered special prayers for departed soul of Senior Minister of the KPK Government Mr. Bashir Bilour who lost his life in a terrorist attack in Peshawar recently.



The ECC prayed to Almighty God for resting the departed soul in eternal peace and for granting courage to the bereaved family to bear this precious loss.



Ministry of Railways moved a summary seeking the approval of the ECC for waiver of on-lending charges to Karachi Urban Transport Corporation for the Project "Revival of Karachi Circular Railways as Modern Commuter System".



Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has already agreed to provide 93.5pc (US$2.4 billion) of the estimated cost through soft loan at a markup of 0.2pc payable in 40 years including 10 years grace period.



The remaining 6.5pc (US$169.6 million) will be borne by the Ministry of Railway (60pc equity), Government of Sindh (25pc equity) and the City District Government Karachi (15pc equity); the stakeholders of KUTC as per their share.



The track of the KCR will be 86 km long and 27 stations will be built around the city.



This important project will be a milestone in improving the quality of life of the citizens.



The ECC approved the summary with special appreciation for the Ministry of Railways, the Government of Sindh and Karachi City Government for their efforts to get approved the most economic and viable project of Circular Railway for Karachi.



The ECC also approved a summary by Ministry of Railways for changes in the composition of Business Express.



Ministry of Railways submitted a summary for ECC approval back in July 2012.


http://www.brecorder.com/top-news/1-front-top-news/98665-ecc-approves-revival-of-karachi-circular-railways-.html

Riaz Haq said...

Karachi is the world's fastest growing megacity, according to Forbes magazine.

http://www.forbes.com/pictures/edgl45fdfe/no-1-karachi-pakistan/