Karachi ranked sixth least-liveable city worldwide - fair or unfair?

Published: August 18, 2017



KARACHI: The Global Liveability Report, 2017 has ranked Karachi as the world’s sixth worst city to live in for the second consecutive year.

For a city plagued by incompetent governance, The Economist Intelligence Unit’s [EIU] Liveability Index will not surprise Karachiites. But it may raise questions on claims of an ‘improved’ Karachi. The index has ranked 140 cities based on stability, infrastructure, education, healthcare, culture and environment. Pakistan’s financial hub has fallen behind in each category.



“It’s [just] a perception,” insisted Citizens-Police Liaison Committee Chief Zubair Habib. “The situation has improved. We just need to put that information out there.” He emphasised the declining rate of organised crime in the city but admitted that the ‘police in Karachi is grossly understaffed’.

“We need investigation and forensic teams for all cases, not only high profile ones,” the CPLC chief told The Express Tribune. “There should be at least 50,000 policemen in the city to tackle security threats.”

Habib stressed that the police should have the autonomy to utilise their budget as per their requirements, adding that currently the Sindh government is making those decisions for them.

Much has been said about the city where the Sindh chief minister acts as the de facto mayor, while the actual elected mayor frequently calls on the court to grant him powers. The city of lights remains entangled in a confusing web of deception.

Unmoved by the ranking, the forlorn mayor of Karachi believes negligence is the reason behind it. “Karachi’s issues are increasing day by day,” Wasim Akhtar told The Express Tribune. “There is no will to attend to the city’s problems,” he said.

“Karachi’s infrastructure is not equipped for the constant influx of population,” Akhtar explained. “What is the point of new roads if you have no sewerage system in place?” he asked, stressing the lack of systematic development in the city.

“There is a state within a state in Sindh after the 18th Amendment,” said the mayor. “They [the Sindh government] make up laws as they please.”

Having filed a petition in the Supreme Court for the restoration of Article 140(a), Akhtar yearns for the revenue-generating departments that have been taken away from the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation. “All I can do is pay salaries and pensions,” he lamented. “I’m not even allowed to undertake a project worth more than Rs20 million.”

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From the water board to solid waste and garbage collection, all the responsibilities that should fall under local government have been ‘usurped’ through notifications by the provincial government, Akhtar claimed.

As a metropolis, Karachi attracts those seeking medical relief but it lacks a proper healthcare system. The mayor said he is unable to maintain the 13 hospitals that fall under his care, due to lack of power and funds. Akhtar said that while the hospitals are under the mayor’s command, the responsibility to buy medical equipment falls to the Sindh government.

The CPLC chief is on the same page. He lamented how the police force lacks basic medical care, with rundown hospitals and low-cost insurance.

But where the state fails, the city’s people step up. With institutions such as the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation, The Indus Hospital and Aga Khan University Hospital amongst others, pro-bono work manages to give the people respite.

Similarly, private schooling has filled the void in the education sector in a city where authorities frequently bulldoze schools. With an approximate population of 27 million, Karachi’s future lies in its youth.

Khizra Munir, a volunteer teacher and alumni at The Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, said it is important to experience the city with an understanding and approach that is not just that of a student but that of a stakeholder in the ups and downs of the city.

Through their city orientation class, volunteer teachers construct experiences that encourage students to create public service campaigns that can help them ‘become more accountable Karachiites’.

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The city that never sleeps embeds a kind of perseverance in Karachiites that even a powerless mayor has faith in. By signing memorandums of understanding with Chinese firms to create revenue-generating schemes, the mayor has started a plantation drive and distributed biodegradable disposable bags in a clean-up campaign.

When asked why he is still holding an office with no powers, Akhtar smiled. “If I give up, they [the Sindh government] will destroy everything.” As he completes a year in office, the mayor is unsatisfied but hopeful. “I have not achieved what I set out to but I am trying.”

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Reader Comments (11)

  • Areeba
    Aug 18, 2017 - 10:09AM

    Apna shehar apna hota hai, whatever. Recommend

  • Rahul
    Aug 18, 2017 - 11:14AM

    ““The situation has improved. We just need to put that information out there.” He emphasised the declining rate of organised crime in the city”

    Declining crime rate alone doesn’t qualify as an improvement in living conditions. What about load shedding? A week ago there was a news which said that 98% of water in Karachi is unfit for drinking. Karachi has garbage strewn all across the city. And crime also is not completely absent. No wonder it’s the sixth worst city to live in.Recommend

  • Syed Ahsan Ali Shah
    Aug 18, 2017 - 11:56AM

    Government which cannot provide good Security, Roads, Streets, Hospitals, Schools, Jobs, Electricity, Water, Family Parks with good atmosphere and kind of entertainment as Hammocks, Play grounds, Parking lots, Street Lights, Traffic Signals, good walking footpaths for pedestrian, for its Citizens. So from my side that government is the FAILED GOVERNMENT in every aspect.Recommend

  • Kiran
    Aug 18, 2017 - 2:38PM

    Karachi ranked 136 in 2014, right after the PPP-led government at the Centre and Sindh and its troublesome allies decimated Karachi’s peace and its citizens’ lives.

    Credit to PML-N and Gen. Raheel Sharif for improving things significantly, but a lot still remains to be done.

    Let’s hope the secular terrorist party never makes a comeback, that’s the most important step.

    Karachi can definitely improve in the near future.Recommend

  • Khalid Manzoor
    Aug 18, 2017 - 2:53PM

    As far as infrastructure & cleanliness goes… its very much on the cards but as far as stability goes i think they are relying on previously compiled or out dated data as things have drastically improved over the past year or soRecommend

  • concerned
    Aug 18, 2017 - 3:02PM

    thank you PPPRecommend

  • Raunak
    Aug 18, 2017 - 3:16PM

    And they are worried about indian toilets.. lolRecommend

  • Faisal
    Aug 18, 2017 - 3:46PM

    what toilets? India doesn’t have toilets! Recommend

  • Pg56
    Aug 20, 2017 - 3:26AM

    India is addressing the problem of open defecation with focus. While 51% people practiced open defecation as per 2011 census, that number is down to 34%. Incidentally, 20% people in Pakistan too practice open defecation. While percentage is less than India, situation will be reversed in 5 years because India is addressing the problem while Pakistan is not. A similar situation existed for electricity when Pakistan was much better off in terms of electricity and now the situation is reversed. The same situation is also true for maternal mortality rate.Recommend

  • LOL
    Aug 20, 2017 - 11:14AM

    @Raunak: hope u enjoyed Twinkle Khanna’s recent instagram post of Mumbai beach.Recommend

  • Rollin & Trollin
    Aug 20, 2017 - 3:15PM

    Karachi is the largest slum in Asia. ‘Hats off’ to PPP, MQM and the whole bunch of misfits using a once fine city as their stomping ground.Recommend

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