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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Missing The Old City Of Karachi

The city once known as "City of Lights", has literally turned into a city of sheer darkness. This is not just another usual rant, that you get to read, here and there, but heartfelt and real.

The Karachi I grew up in was devoid of the linguistic and ethnic demarcation. It was 70's, we were all multi ethnic in the neighborhood. Sindhis, Punjabis, the Pathans and Muhajirs (back then refered as Urdu speaking), use to band together as one. Of course you had to know the Karachite slang to fit in. Without that you were like a fish out of water. As we used to say, that you needed "super sharp antennas" to keep up with the slick Karachites. Any relative from Lahore, Rawalpindi and Islamabad used to come to Karachi and it was hard for them to keep up with its hustle and bustle. But they were in total awe of the glitz and charm of the beach and neons.

Heck at school, it was like the entire United Nations of religions. Christians, Parsis, Hindus, Bahais we were all Pakistanis. There was something magical about those days. Some spirit of nationalism, which was like a gel, bringing us altogether. Ah yes it was the ZAB era and we were all trying to elevate the remaining Pakistan.

Back in those days, I remember right after the infamous 1971 war, Shahnaz Begum sang Aali Sahib's song like,

"Mauj barhey ya aandhi aayey, diya jalayey rakhna hai

Ghar ki khatir sau dukh jhailey, ghar to aakhir apna hai

Well then came the 1974 Islamic Summit and our city was glowing, even though the actual summit was being held in Lahore. Spectacular illumination, were seen around Karachi like Inter Con, Baradari Gardens, Beach Luxury, PIDC House, Saddar and Clifton were literally glowing.

The decade of 80's was not so blissful for the city. From the 1977 post election unrest to Bushra Zaidi incident, I believe it was 1985 or 1986 and the city literally transformed. We used to have occasional Shia Sunni bout in the 70's, which was reprehensible and shameful. The Karachi University had a firing incident in late 70's which or very early 80's which was a major turning point.

From mid 80's on it seems like the city went to dogs. The unity that we had as typical Karachite has been lost. Today's Karachi has been divided and subdivided into linguistic turfs. Extortionist literally run the city and the first question that is on everyone' s mind is, "Will I make it back to my home safely or not?"

BTW, with shrinking world and people reaching far away lands, the thrill of Port City has taken major toll as well. The relatives from other cities want to stay away from Karachi and they tend to say, "No way, do you think I am crazy to take this kind of risk to come to Karachi?"

Sad but true.....

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