Filthy Karachi; K-P Blues

Some of the richest areas in Karachi are choked with dirt; while murderers of children, gentlemen roam freely in KP.

Kamran Shafi December 06, 2012

I have just had occasion to visit Karachi where I stayed at an old and good friend’s, the great raconteur Minoo Marker’s gracious home on Mary Road in Bath Island. And of taking my usual walk at 6:30 on a Sunday morning from Bath Island Hill (Karachi’s GOR-1), to Boating Basin, to Clifton via Barbeque Tonight, and on to Defence’s Sunset Boulevard.

I am sorry to report that barring the well kept Benazir Bhutto Park, and the area outside Barbeque Tonight which was spotless because the management of that establishment is efficient and effective and makes sure that its environs are clean, my favourite city was the filthiest I have ever seen it.

About which later: the moment you drive out of the airport you see unkempt and dirty grounds which seem all the more of an eyesore if you have flown in from Lahore where you approach the airport through a beautifully kept Airport Park with tended lawns and lovely flower beds.

But back to the city. I am talking about Bath Island, where all the Burra Sahibs including the Corps Commander; the Inspector General of the Sindh police; and other high officials live. I am talking about Clifton and Defence where the beautiful people of Karachi live and party.

I do not talk about Lyari and Landhi and Korangi and Kati Pahari. I talk about some of the richest areas in that mega city and which are choked with dirt of every kind: six-month old building materials rotting on the main roads; garbage everywhere; used plastic bags, even nappies strewn about; overflowing gutters; empty plots used as garbage dumps, you name it.

Just compare Bath Island with Lahore’s GOR-1; or Karachi’s Defence with Defence Lahore and you will see what I mean. When I tweeted this just the other day some Karachiites got their knickers in a twist; to whom I said that there was no need of taking umbrage, Karachi is my birthplace and the reason I am so fond of it — which is why it hurts so much to see the great city in these straits.

I have to add that when my grandson, Changez, heard I had walked where I had he threw a fit and said I was fortunate not to have been mugged! “Mugged at that time in the morning”, I asked. “Yes, Dada, you don’t do these things in Karachi. You don’t walk alone on the roads.” An old friend, a college-mate, said exactly the same thing. Oh well.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, we go on in our very own viciously mad ways, plumbing ever deeper depths. This newspaper of record of just yesterday tells us of an invasion of a wedding party on the very outskirts of Peshawar by a gang of terrorists who stopped the music being played in a hujra.

Here is part of the report: “Twenty-five heavily-armed militants stormed into a wedding function in a late Tuesday night and demanded that the ‘anti-religious’ celebrations stop.”

“The militants, carrying rocket launchers and machine guns, destroyed musical instruments in the hujra of a resident Younas, whose wedding was scheduled for Friday.

“Around 10 men entered the hujra where the mehndi was taking place and 15 others waited outside the building”, said a local elder, requesting anonymity. He added that militants had said that this was against religion and not allowed in ‘their’ area.

“Former head of the Adezai Aman militia, Dilawar Khan criticised the police for not handling the situation. “The police is entirely responsible”, he said, “they are reluctant to take action against militants and their sympathisers in the area.”

The police are responsible? The terrorists are in all probability better equipped than the poor police, and while I agree with President Asif Ali Zardari when he says the police should take on a more aggressive role in combating terror, I have to say that it should then be better equipped with material and well-trained manpower.

Indeed, the police don’t even have a dedicated hospital anywhere in the country for policemen who are ill, or are wounded in the line of duty. And while one prays for the safety of our soldiers and policemen on duty at the various check posts, one notes with alarm that whilst the soldiers wear bullet-proof vests, the policemen don’t. This anomaly, among many others, should be removed post-haste.

I have to refer to another report in this newspaper, also of yesterday to show what talent this country boasts, even in the ‘badlands’ of Fata. This one is about young Mamaraha Afridi of Landi Kotal, Khyber Agency, whose “team won the first prize for presenting the traditional Pakhtun Attan dance at the “First Idea Asia Youth Forum” held in Thailand this year…in which 200 teenagers from 22 Asian countries participated”. She also won third place in a speech contest.

And this performance from a child whose school had been attacked by terrorists many times over the last few years? The excellent report goes on: “Afridi … is a seventh grader at the Bacha Khan Education Foundation School, (and) looks back in horror when the ongoing targeted attacks sabotaged her school in three subsequent attacks. “The first time the boundary wall of the school caved in, then the main gate and finally the whole building was blown away (this year)”, she said. I ask you.

Isn’t it time that we all came together to rid our country of the murderers of little children, gentlemen? Isn’t it time, and may I say it again: that we finish off the murdering terrorists and their twisted and ugly agendas?

And thereby protect all our little treasures like Mamaraha and Kainat and Malala and Shazia? Kindly recall, reader, that Kainat and Shazia were wounded when Malala was shot in the head by these valiant braves who mistakenly blew up the house next door to Kainat’s home in Swat just the other day in an attempt to kill her. When will it be poor little Shazia’s turn? Will we never learn?

Published in The Express Tribune, December 7th, 2012.


Abid P Khan | 9 years ago | Reply

@Zahid: ".... the Pashtuns, and yet during their rule they adopted the “Khan” last name because of the prestige associated with the name of world conquerer." , Though it is a bit off the topic, you have touched a very important point specifically pertinent to us, a country which has amongst lowest levels of education/enlightenment. Let me hitch on to the wagon attempting to clarify significance or insignificance of some names that one comes across. . Out of tradition and as a sign of respect an Italian peon would address the director or even the clerk babu as dottore(doctor). . In many countries the traditional family profession is adopted as a surname Smith or Thatcher (they worked as roof Thatchers). Shumacher (German for shoemaker) drives fast cars today. . Nearer to us. Efendi (Afendi) meant and means, loosely translated as, "Saheb" in our own colloquial i.e. not a surname at all. Bey (written in Osmanli and earlier Turkish as Bek) the K=G in many central Asian Languages as the letter is silent in this case, it becomes "Bey" in modern Turkish. You address someone as Selim Bey (Saleem Beg) which by no means is indicative of any religious grouping, surname or status. Which the name has earned connotations on the Subcontinent. A lady thus is called as "Begam"(Begum). . Similar is the case with Khan (KH is impossible to pronounce for Turks. They call "Khusrow" as "Husrev") which even today while addressing any male is addressed with a suffix Han (Khan) and the lady is called a "Hanam" in Turkish or Khonem/Khunem in Persian depending on the dialect. No one should get annoyed if he his called something like "Khun". . We have to live with a lot of misconceptions which are actually misinterpretations. Maybe irrationality is the backbone of every culture.

Zahid | 9 years ago | Reply

@Lala Gee We are so clueless of our hitstory. Pashtuns and many others use the last name "Khan". How many Pashtuns know that the surname came into use during the time when they living under the iron hand of the Turkic-Mongol rule ? It is ironic that the Mongols conquered and massacred the Pashtuns, and yet during their rule they adopted the "Khan" last name because of the prestige associated with the name of world conquerer.

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