CPSD - Commentary

Uroos-ul-bilaad: The need for a Karachi Narrative

Karachi is Pakistan’s largest city and an indispensable part of its economic and financial framework. Due to its geopolitical presence in the country, Karachi also attracts people from all over Pakistan. Therefore, these particular aspects of the city’s demographics and its thriving economic scene create a platform that is rife for development but also attracts violence and mayhem.

In recent years Karachi has been notorious for its depraved security situation, which was not helped by the war on terror that commenced in 2001. The city saw an increase in events such as bomb blasts adding to the usual violence that was based on ethnic and sectarian grounds. Karachi’s violence thus gained almost a legend like status in Pakistani citizens’ narrative while the residents of the city itself were severely affected by the gruesome violence that plagued their city.

The situation has however changed for the better in recent years. Karachi’s crime rate has decreased significantly due to the provincial government’s targeted operations. According to the interior Ministry, the phenomenon of target killing has decreased by 91%. Aside from the rather dry statistics, the change in Karachi’s security situation is indeed palpable as the city has seen lesser instances of periods of unrest and targeted violence. There has also been an observable decrease in big events of terrorism with over 90% decrease.

This improvement in security has also lead to the betterment of the city’s economic situation. Recent events such as 14th August and both the Eid festivals saw record spending on behalf of the citizens. The Karachi Stock Exchange which is the largest in the country has also seen an uptick without any sudden crashes and major fluctuations. Karachi has also seen rapid commercialization and foreign investments. Projects such as Emaar Crescent Bay in Karachi show that these foreign entities are also seeing Karachi’s improving situation and willing to invest in it.

There is however a very distinct image of Karachi in the overall national narrative, one which also causes the federal government to overlook it. The main focus is that the city is depleted and there is no cultural or social value attached to it despite there being a thriving social scene that is just now getting back to the mainstream after recovering from the city’s history of security problems. There are several events that bring the city residents together in the public sphere and actually make it the city of lights. Karachi Eat- the city’s annual mammoth food festival that is attended by thousands of people and Karachi International Book Fair which has been seeing robust attendance of the city’s readers for years are two examples of events that have recently happened successfully in Karachi.

Thus it can be said that Karachi’s situation is back on the mend and almost all indicators, social and economic are positive. There also needs to be coverage of the city to fully represent it to other people of the country. Karachi’s image should now move on from crime ridden problem to a resilient and thriving city that is managing due to its residents’ spirits.