Thursday, December 24, 2020

Brief History of Karachi: The Birthplace of Pakistan's Founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah

Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, is believed to have started as a small fishing village named Kolachi in 1729.  It attracted the attention of the colonial rulers in 1857 as a suitable site for a major port in British India. Thus began the story of Karachi which has now grown into a megacity of 14,910,352 people, as reported in the most recent 2017 Census of Pakistan. 

Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah

Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founding father of Pakistan, was born in the city of Karachi on December 25, 1876. He also died in Karachi on September 11, 1948, a little over a year after realizing his dream of the creation of Pakistan. In a glowing tribute to Pakistan's founding father, his biographer, American historian Stanley Wolpert, Professor Emeritus at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), wrote the following: “Few individuals significantly alter the course of history. Fewer still modify the map of the world. Hardly anyone can be credited with creating a nation-state. Mohammad Ali Jinnah did all three.”  

Sindh Madrasatul Islam in Karachi

Karachi was built as a walled city. It had two main entrances: Kharadar (sea water gate) facing the Arabian sea and Mithadar (fresh water gate) facing the Lyari river. These two neighborhoods of Karadar and Mithadar still exist as the oldest neighborhoods in Karachi.  Sindh Madrasatul Islam, the Quaid-e-Azam's alma mater, is still located just east of Mithadar neighborhood. The school was founded in 1885 by Hassan Ali Effendi. It had the support of the famous Muslim reformer Sir Syed Ahmad Khan who established MAO College in Aligarh in 1875 which later became Aligarh Muslim University. Sindh Madrasatul Islam became a college in 1943. It was elevated to a university in 2012. 

Aerial View of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah's Mausoleum

A story in the New York Times dated June 17, 1902 reported that Karachi's population at the time was 115,000 and its port's annual trade was worth Rs. 180,000.  Wheat, seeds, cotton and wool were the main exports. There has been a dramatic expansion in the port since the creation of Pakistan in 1947 when it became the capital of the newly created state. The city attracted millions of Muslims from across India, particularly New Delhi and several northern states of India. Most of the new arrivals, referred to as Mohajirs, spoke Urdu which is now the national language of Pakistan. 

New York Times on Karachi in 1902

Karachi lost its status as the nation's political capital in 1960s to the newly-built city of Islamabad. However, the Quaid's city continues to be the economic, industrial and financial capital of the country. It is also home to two major ports: Karachi Port and Bin Qasim Port. A third port, Gwadar, located about 400 miles west of Karachi, has recently started operations as the nation's third major seaport. Karachi and Gwadar are connected on the land by Coastal Highway. 

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Pakistanis Happier Than Neighbors

Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah's Vision

Karachi Safety Ranking Rising

Gangs of Karachi

Gangster Politicians of Karachi

Karachi is World's Fastest Growing Megacity

Karachi's Human Development Index

Pakistan Rising or Failing: Reality vs Perception

Pakistan's Trillion Dollar Economy Among top 25

CPEC Myths and Facts

Gwadar Port

Riaz Haq's Youtube Channel

PakAlumni Social Network


Riaz Haq said...

Suhail Zaheer Lari, Force for Preservation in Pakistan, Dies at 84
After a corporate career, he devoted his time to chronicling the history of Sindh Province and preserving its cultural heritage. He died from complications of Covid-19.

The ancient cemetery of Makli, near the city of Thatta in Sindh Province, is one of the largest necropolises in the world, so rich in monuments that UNESCO declared it a World Heritage site.

So it became a natural focus of Suhail Zaheer Lari, a prominent Pakistani historian and author, who dedicated himself to documenting the history of Sindh Province, in southern Pakistan. He had a passion for photography, and his images of Makli’s riches became the basis of several proposals for their conservation.

Mr. Lari, a leading force for historic preservation in Pakistan, died in Karachi, Sindh’s capital, on Dec. 5. He was 84. The cause was complications of Covid-19, his family said.

His wife, Yasmeen Lari, a prominent architect, contracted Covid-19 in December but recovered.

The couple founded the Heritage Foundation of Pakistan in 1980 to “create an awareness of Pakistan’s rich and diverse historic architecture and art, and to promote cultural heritage for social integration, peace and development,” according to its website. Its work has resulted in the preservation of more than 600 buildings.

Pakistan possesses an enormous reservoir of diverse historical sites, most of which are in an advanced state of decay. Mr. Lari, through his photography and books, saved many from being forgotten or lost.

Mr. Lari was born on Nov. 13, 1936, and raised in Allahabad, India. His mother, Qabila Khatoon, was a homemaker; his father, Zaheer ul Hasnain Lari, was a lawyer and a judge who was close to Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister.

Mr. Lari’s father did not leave for Pakistan in 1947, as many Muslims did after partition. But as hostilities rose, the family moved to Pakistan in 1950. They lived first in Lahore, then in Karachi.

In a memoir, Mr. Lari said he had decided to study in England and wrote out of the blue to the noted philosopher Isaiah Berlin; he responded and helped him gain entry to St. Catherine’s College at the University of Oxford, where he received a degree in politics, philosophy and economics.

Mr. Lari had met Yasmeen Ahsan in Lahore when they were young and kept up a correspondence. She was in London studying architecture, Mr. Lari wrote in his memoir, while he was at Oxford. Their families initially objected to their marriage, asking them to complete their studies first. Mr. Lari said they told their parents they would have a wedding in Scotland, where the legal age to marry was lower than it was in England.

“At this,” he wrote, “they relented and arranged our marriage in Karachi.”

Mr. Lari returned to Pakistan and joined the corporate world, eventually becoming managing director of the Khyber Insurance Company. He held that job for more than two decades and served in other corporate posts before retiring and devoting himself to writing.

The couple’s house in Karachi in later years became a meeting place for intellectuals, politicians and artists.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Lari is survived by two sons, Humayun and Mihail, and a daughter, Raeena.

Riaz Haq said...

Karachi’s Eid business crossed Rs30b but traders still unhappy

KARACHI: In comparison to last year, Karachi witnessed better Eidul Fitr sales this year, but traders still lack optimism about the situation. All Karachi Tajir Ittehad Chairman Atiq Mir thinks Eid business in the city has hardly crossed the Rs30 billion mark. Last year it was barely Rs10 billion.

According to the city’s electronic market association, their business was 75 per cent less this Ramazan. The cloth merchant association believes that there was no drastic difference in this year’s Eid sales in comparison to last year.

“Last year before Eidul Fitr, everything was closed due to Covid-19. In the last days of Ramazan we got a little time until 4pm,” Mir said while talking to The News. “There wasn’t any sale, nor any business.”

However, he lamented, this year they had great expectations, but by limiting the business timing to 6pm, the government deprived traders of a better opportunity to earn. “We have a trend of night shopping, especially during Ramazan. It’s not our culture to shop during the day.”

Despite all these constraints, he said, traders made at least Rs30 billion in sales this Eid. “Had we gotten a complete opportunity, our sales would have touched Rs50 billion to Rs60 billion this season.”

He said that in comparison to the neighbouring countries in the region, Pakistan’s textile industry is doing better. Other countries are on lockdown, which is why Pakistan’s textile and stitch garment industries are getting orders from abroad, he added.

“Three months before Ramazan the branded item garment sector was busy due to orders from foreign countries,” he said, adding that they still have orders for the next few months, and all they need is permission to work.

Cloth Merchant Association President Ahmed Chinoy told The News that this year’s Eid sales were better than last year, but due to a complete lockdown in the last days of Ramazan, their business was badly affected. Last year, he said, they had sales of less than Rs1 billion, which was unprecedentedly low for Ramazan shopping.

He said that due to the lockdown, they experienced difficulties in delivering their finished products to their customers. “The loss of shutting down a medium-sized factory for a day is Rs0.5 million.”

He added that completely shutting down factories for 10 days consecutively will not benefit anyone. As for the small merchant traders, he said that they experience a loss of at least Rs0.1 million with a day’s shutdown.

When asked about sales in comparison to last year, he replied that they are better but have remained around Rs1 billion, reasoning that the people of this city are in the habit of shopping in the last 10 days of Ramazan, and that too at night.

When asked about exports, he responded that after the lockdown as well as shutting down their production and import of cotton worth Rs2 billion, their exports will also be adversely affected. Raheel Paracha, president of the Victoria Welfare Association of the Victoria Shopping Centre (Zainab Market), lamented that there was no difference in Eid sales in comparison to last year. During Ramazan this year, he pointed out, the market remained open for hardly 12 or 13 days, and last year it was 10 to 12 days. “Shopkeepers have incurred huge losses. They had garments worth millions of rupees in their shops that they couldn’t sell.”

He said that retailers call him up daily for permission to allow them to open their shops so that they can at least sell garments online, but the police do not allow them. Karachi Electronic Dealers Association President Rizwan Irfan shared with The News that they saw only 25 per cent Eid sales this year and incurred 75 per cent losses.