Stories about Karachiites

If Lahore couldn’t handle the rains, what hope does Karachi have?

Karachi has a love-hate relationship with the monsoon season. While Karachiites long for rain throughout the year, we shudder at the very thought of prolonged downpour, flooding, destruction and power outages that are inevitably associated with it. The last time this city truly got to enjoy the rainy season was during Mustafa Kamal’s tenure, when despite drains heavily clogged with rainwater – especially the Gujjar Nala and Neher-e-Khayyam – alternate drainage arrangements were made and the citizens were spared the entire rain-related trauma. Things are much, much different now. With monsoon rains that are imminent and expected any day now, infrastructure ...

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Imran Khan is right, Pakistan should have more than four provinces

Whenever I make any comments about Pakistan having more provinces and smaller units, the reaction is always the same, “You want to divide the country? Are you a RAW agent or what?”  So when Imran Khan promised the creation of a South Punjab, it was a pleasant surprise to hear him say something intelligent for once. Imran made this promise recently as he welcomed turncoats from South Punjab into his party; defectors who enjoyed the perks and privileges of being MNAs for the past five years while saying nothing about creating a new province, until now. While supporting the demand by the Janoobi ...

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The tale of May 12, 2007: He was ordered to “go for the kill” and “take no prisoners”

What started as a casual chat over tea amid the winter season, turned out to be quite a tumultuous tale of violence and mayhem that erupted on May 12, 2007 in Karachi, narrated by one of the perpetrators himself. While sitting at roadside cafe in a dingy locality of Hyderabad and sipping tea with my friends, I somehow ended up chatting with this ordinary-looking chap (who would later identify himself as one of the perpetrators), a man who claimed to be distantly acquainted with one of my friends. The story he proceeded to narrate in a disdainful manner, as if sharing just ...

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The day Benazir Bhutto died, and with her the city of Karachi

On December 27, 2007, Benazir Bhutto was assassinated. The reverberations from those guns shots were heard and felt all over Pakistan. Many of us have distinct memories of where we were and what we were doing when we heard the news. We have stories of our personal experiences from that day. Some of us were stuck in traffic; some of us were stuck at home. Despite the variance in our experiences, there was one common thread that tied all of our stories together – feelings of panic, hysteria, confusion and chaos. On that fateful day, I was attending a training session ...

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Un(wheeling) the transport mafia in Karachi

Public transport is crucial to any city’s development and is one of the basic civil rights a government owes to its citizens. However, sadly, in a huge city like Karachi, people don’t have proper public transport systems and the one that’s already in place is run by the transport mafia – which stops at nothing to exploit the citizens of this city. This mafia-handled system consists of sub-standard coaches and minibuses, operated and under the complete ownership of private businessmen. The population of Karachi is around 16.62 million currently and is said to increase to 27.5 million by 2020, according to KMC estimates. Karachiites make ...

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

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 ...

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Comedy nights in Karachi: On rishta requirements, insecure pakistanis and mailas

Last Friday, director Nida Butt’s little MAD School held its first comedy night and lovers of all things funny united in Karachi and showed up in droves. Now the excessive rush probably had a little sumthin-sumthin to do with ticket price being just Rs100! Most stand-up comedians were improv artists and were making their stand-up debut the same night. The line-up consisted of Hassnain Shah, Ehsan Yar, Umar Ahmed, Ali Junejo and Natasha Humera Ejaz, Faiza Saleem, Syed Osama Sami, Zuhaib Shaikh and Akbar Chaudry. Each comedian had their own unique sense of humour and style and surprisingly all of them were funny in their own way. But some were definitely funnier than the rest. Hassnain Shah, ...

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If you think NA-246 is about MQM versus PTI, you’re wrong

Who bags NA-246 and which party stands victorious tonight makes little difference. What matters is that today’s election will put an end to the environment and politics of fear prevalent in Karachi for years. Active campaigning by other candidates in Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) stronghold, polling agents standing brave at polling stations that were once no-go areas for all political parties and candidates except MQM and fearless voters walking into polling booths with the intention to not vote for MQM, and then being able to walk out and go home, are all a breath of fresh air for Karachiites. This by-election ...

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Recovering from the #KarachiEat2015 food coma

Second year running, Karachi Eat Festival 2015 might just have faced the ‘terrible twos’ trauma, yet the effort has to be lauded. Against the back drop of the historical Frere Hall, this three-day long food fest was greeted, appreciated, criticised and maligned by many. Whilst people had to face traffic nightmares, underwhelming food offerings from various vendors and disappointment as a whole, my family and I were lucky to have faced none of the above. When we arrived on the hot Saturday afternoon, vendors were still waking up from their slumber. Yet in a matter of half an hour or so, the frenzy and ...

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I guess #Nilofar and Karachi just weren’t meant to be…

Nilofar has been messing with our heads and lives for a week now. It’s coming, it’s not coming. It’s severe, it’s very severe. It has weakened and will not be hitting Pakistan directly. It will rain in Karachi, it will not rain in Karachi. Make up your mind, woman! While Sindh’s fate lay in the hands of a “woman”, we, Karachiites waited anxiously for her to grace us with her presence. This anxiousness is quite disturbing might I add. Generally, citizens of a soon-to-be-affected city start making preparations to stay safe during a natural disaster, but not us. No sir, we will go ...

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