Karachi’s parks are for the people, not the ‘ghairat brigade’: KMC official

Published: January 30, 2012

Frere Hall gardens recently opened to the public as well. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: Hand holding and sitting close to each other in a park should not be judged, said an official from the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation. “It is not obscene.”

His remarks come at a time when four non-governmental organisations are suing a television channel for a programme in which a host ran around a park trying to ‘expose’ the ‘immorality’ of the couples sitting there. The ‘witch hunt’ was steamrolled by public indignation that this kind of policing had no place in parks, which serve as a respite for the residents of Karachi, a city that is bursting at its seams.

“If we start going around checking up on people like this, then the first ban would be put on a man and his wife,” said the director general of the city parks, Liaquat Ali Khan, referring to the close contact necessitated by sitting on a motorcycle. He stressed that couples were free to use Karachi’s parks and did not have to declare or justify the status of their relationship to anyone. The security guards have been told not to harass anyone.

The KMC official gave the example of Dubai where there was a mosque but anyone could also go to a night club if they wanted. “If it is a matter of right and wrong, then let the people decide,” he said.

There are 1,500 public parks in Karachi, some of which charge an entry fee. Safari Park, Hill Park and Quaid-e-Azam’s mazaar’s grounds are some of the most popular places for young couples, including those from lower middleclass families who may not have the luxury of their own spaces at home. “Attempts to raise the entry fee at the parks have failed repeatedly,” he said. “Some people who come here only have Rs5 or Rs10 to spare after they pay for their bus fare.”

Last month, 27-year-old AA took his girlfriend GH to a park on his motorcycle. “From the gate all the way to the bench, everyone was staring,” he said. “The security guards, the gardener – even men who were there with their families were staring at us.” He added that going somewhere else was out of the question. While talking to The Express Tribune, he said that he had thought of renting a beach hut for Rs1,000 but it would only create more problems. He said that couples went to restaurants to eat and liked to relax and have a romantic time under the shade of a tree in a park.

“There are no rules which can dictate how someone should behave in a park,” said Sindh High Court Advocate Shaukat Sheikh while talking to The Express Tribune. “The KMC and cantonment boards have made their own code of conduct for some parks but officials claim that they do not dictate the way people are supposed to behave.” According to the advocate, a couple of years ago some people were arrested and penalised for objectionable behaviour.

The additional inspector-general of Karachi, Akhtar Hussain Gorchani, said that he would not defend the conduct of policemen who harassed couples to make money. He added that he was shocked at this sort of behaviour and would prefer the force to focus on catching criminals.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 30th, 2012.

Reader Comments (18)

  • Khalid
    Jan 30, 2012 - 5:52AM

    Well done sir, you are a voice of sanity. We need more sane individuals like you to prevent these illiterate zealots taking over and pushing us back into dark ages.

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  • Jan 30, 2012 - 12:29PM

    Live & let live . The Police men who harass Couples should also be Punished .
    Park is a place for families & couples & Children & not for being question if we have our nika nama or not .

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  • Rehan
    Jan 30, 2012 - 12:42PM

    Maya Khan should, as per the law, be thrown in jail. Violation of an individual’s privacy is against the law, and the evidence against her was shot by her own camera crew. Maya better start counting her last few days of freedom!
    Regards,
    Rehan

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  • Adnan
    Jan 30, 2012 - 1:31PM

    What dark ages. Are you guys in your senses..are we really Muslims….I am telling you one day we will be accepting some other things and will have no worry for these worst deterioration of our moral ethics. Just see where the West has gone..where is their social family structure….they wish they have such social values like we have in our country.
    they are the victim of so called liberalism…..and still paying for that………

    please avoid and try to understand your religion …….It is morally not good at all…..

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  • MAD
    Jan 30, 2012 - 1:51PM

    Going around in parks and asking couples of proof of marriage…..definitely not cool. But there is that other niot so little issue of concern in many parks eg Mazar-e-Quaid. Parks also serve as pick up points for prostitutes. The media has highlighted that issue in the past but no concrete action taken. Now thats an area where our dear old KMC should start to work on.

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  • TTP
    Jan 30, 2012 - 1:59PM

    What about UNIT Offices opened inside the parks???

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  • Kashif Naqvi
    Jan 30, 2012 - 2:37PM

    Glad that Media wasn’t so “Azad” in my days :)

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  • MarkH
    Jan 30, 2012 - 3:16PM

    @Adnan:
    Complain all you like. But don’t look foolish trying to compare quality of living to any Western country. It also makes you look insane to use your current social structure as an example that should be followed for a better life.

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  • shah
    Jan 30, 2012 - 3:20PM

    Well done MAYA KHAN , people from respected families are thankful to MAYA.
    Please stop vulgarity from family parks,these parks were meant for educated people not animals that keep romancing on park benchesRecommend

  • Shehzad Khan
    Jan 30, 2012 - 4:20PM

    The Pakistani public has to understand why Pakistan was fought for and what it stands for. There is nothing wrong with adopting some western ideals, but this whole boyfriend/girlfriend theme that is becoming so apparent in Pakistan does not bode well. I watch TV and am quite internet saavy, but I also respect where I came from and what family values once meant in this country.

    Its okay to adapt Westernism, but one must continue to understand sharm & hya.

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  • adeel759
    Jan 30, 2012 - 5:31PM

    Glad that Host was fired from the job, she should go live S Arabia if she wants such laws officiated. Let people make their own decisions, No to moral policing in Pakistan. People know to make the right decisions

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  • safi
    Jan 30, 2012 - 5:40PM

    This is classical example of the so-called religious vigilantly, imposed self created brand of Islam and a legacy of Zia dark regime. We (the highly educated Strata) should stand against this type of tendencies otherwise the whole society will be at the mercy of religious extremists.

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  • kid
    Jan 30, 2012 - 6:16PM

    lol….young generation. hahhahah. I will not blame anyone. sara din inko ek hi kaam hai, holding hands, visiting parks, making/breaking GFs. Khud mein shayad koi kami hoti hai jo female friends mein sahara talash karty hein. Keep it up.

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  • Dr Khan
    Jan 30, 2012 - 6:42PM

    @Khalid:

    I hope you’re not implying Maya Khan was working under orders from some “illiterate zealots” unless you’re referring to Maya Khan as an “illiterate zealot”? As evidently this incident had nothing to do with any group or organization other than Maya Khan and co. I’m sure people would love to drag in the mullahs into this one off incident too tho, anything to paint them as the evil behind all society ills.

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  • PTIsupporter
    Jan 30, 2012 - 8:58PM

    Finally, a force of reason and rationality! There is no doubt that Pakistan is changing and becoming more egalitarian.

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  • khuddadad choudhrey
    Jan 30, 2012 - 9:24PM

    I feel sorry for those who condone these actions, even decent civilized British are careful to show public affection. Are you Pakistani not supposed to Muslim and have some sort or Purdah – civilised form of respect. Where is this Boy & Girlfriend business come from.
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  • BabyCool
    Jan 30, 2012 - 9:43PM

    @khalid….. tell me when u visit a park with your mother and father and u c NAR & MADA enjoying themselves wont u feel awkward to be there with ur parents or u’ll feel pride that u have gotten out of dark ages. gimme a break. dat sort of mixing is not allowed in the states or even in dubai. many Britishers have been arrested for wearing revealing dresses. So the thing is that u khalid go where there is light for u. And as for Liaquat sahab u better focus on developing the parks and make them free of crime which was evident in maya khan’s show where one person from nearby flats told us..

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  • kaleem
    Jan 31, 2012 - 1:35AM

    The Pakistani public has to understand why Pakistan was fought for and what it stands for. There is nothing wrong with adopting some western ideals, but this whole boyfriend/girlfriend theme that is becoming so apparent in Pakistan does not bode well. I watch TV and am quite internet saavy, but I also respect where I came from and what family values once meant in this country.

    Its okay to adapt Westernism, but one must continue to understand sharm & hya.

    Recommend

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