When the ‘city of lights’ turns into the ‘city of survival’

Karachi is surrounded by its enemies who appear in the shape of rabid hyenas, feasting on its flesh mercilessly.

Salman Junejo August 18, 2015
Karachi will endure not just because it has to, but because its inhabitants refuse to call it quits and give in to the face of adversity, for it is the people that define Karachi, and their resilience in essence embodies the spirit of Karachi.

Karachi belongs to all of those who seek refuge beneath its bruised and battered but bountiful shade, irrespective of what walk of life they come from.  Karachi is not just owned by the political parties that represent it in the provincial or federal echelons, rather, it is owned by its people.

We blame the politicians that they’re not doing enough to quench the violence happening daily in Karachi, as they’re too busy in politicking. However, we cease to ponder over the very basic fact that these individuals are too among us, cut from the same cloth as us, we elect them, we choose them to represent us and make decisions at our behest.

So would we react so differently if we find ourselves in their shoes, hypothetically speaking?

There was once a time not so long ago, when  everyone who came to Karachi for a better life was welcomed with open arms regardless of what their political, religious or ethnic orientation was. It was not seen as a line in the sand or a point of contention, but rather as a mixing pot of culture and ideologies, where everyone was tolerant of each other views.

In every sense of the word, Karachi was a loud, boisterous and lively place once that brimmed with life resonating everywhere. The only thing that resonates now is the deafening echo of bomb blasts coupled with sporadic gun fire and the blaring sound of the sirens of ambulances rushing towards the troubled area.

Unfortunately, perhaps lately, we the Karachiites have grown accustomed and numb towards the senseless violence and bloodshed happening around us. All the blood and tears that have been shed around us, we have the illusion that if we look the other way and let it be, we will insulate ourselves from it.  By ignoring this underlying problem, by closing our eyes shut, we won’t make it disappear.

This is wishful thinking bordering naivety at best. The haves of our city are too busy fortifying their castles and fortresses, bomb and bullet proofing their vehicles in light of this looming threat, while the have nots have nothing but the word of God in their heart to keep them away from harm’s way and being reduced to a number in the daily tally of lives lost in our city.

While comfortably sitting in our cosy and plush sofas, having casual social gatherings with our friends, we reflect on the thought that how Karachi was once truly “the city of lights”. When we reminisce that era, we go through an undercurrent of sadness and feel nostalgic about it.

Or should we try and make our collective selves heard?

There’s no denying the fact that we as the inhabitants of Karachi stand divided and callous, for a lack of a better word. Divided and segregated in terms of our creed, our language, our ethnicity, our race, our social status and our lifestyle.

The leeches, the parasites that are sucking the life, the vitality out of our city incessantly without showing any remorse are thriving and feeding off on this very fact. Karachi feels like it’s surrounded by its enemies who appear in the shape of those rabid hyenas, who are biting it one at a time, picking on and feasting on its flesh mercilessly.

Yet it still survives and will continue to do so. It is high time to put our petty and minuscule differences aside and focus on the larger scheme of things, so many precious lives have been lost in our dear city while we sit idly, bicker,  quarrel and oppose each other.  

If  we reflect and introspect on the recent incidents that have dealt a serious blow towards the social fabric and tranquillity of Karachi,  let it be the Safoora Goth incidence which sent shockwave throughout the country, the random day after day of shutter down of the metropolis and political unrest, or the ghastly attack on Jinnah International Airport. Rest assured, the patience of Karachi’s inhabitants have run out, they want a timely and a permanent solution, simply put; they want peace.

The bureaucratic caretakers of this great city and its elected officials should put aside their vested interests and join hand in hand which will be a reason for mutual benefit for all demographical entities that live in Karachi. If all of these political entities continue to procrastinate, the mandate to undo all of the aforementioned issues will be given to military forces, some of which we’ve already witnessed in recent months that have greatly improved the law and order of Karachi.  This is but an ad-hoc solution and not a permanent one, but right now, we’re out of options and this is the only option that seems feasible and do-able.

Karachi is like the fictional creature Phoenix, which keeps rising out of ashes each time it is injured, bruised or battered. Each time more resilient and hopeful than the last, hopeful of dreaming that the future will hold better times and opportunities for our future generations to come. We should get rid of the fear that consumes us, and let our voices be heard, for it is the fear of not being vocal, not being able to get our voices across that enable the politicians to do as they see fit. We must rise from our differences, our insignificant and petty quarrels that divide us, until we lambs become lions.

Perhaps we should find solace in this particular extract from the poem Invictus by William Ernest Henley. These words stand as a testament to Karachi’s resolve and perseverance and the people that it harbours. 

“Under the bludgeonings of chance,

My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears,

Looms but the horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years,

Finds, and shall find, me unafraid…”
Salman Junejo
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

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