Stories about Lyari

Citizens of Lyari: Bloodied, miserable and begging for mercy

Ordinarily, Pakistan does not surprise me with the injustice that goes on in the country. I live in Karachi and am frighteningly used to instances of violence and bloodshed that the city is reputed for. The news, more or less every day, leaves me depressed, but for the past few days, my heart has been aching for what is going on in Karachi — especially Lyari. In four days, Lyari has seen the concentrated essence of what we call ‘Karachi violence’. Four were dead as of June 10 and 18 had been injured even before the sun set. With a ...

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My day in the Supreme Court

There is a very tiny bow at the back of the police-blue beret that sits stiffly peaked on Fayyaz Leghari’s head. I have a good view of the inspector general’s fine head of hair and his pale cream jowl as he turns to whisper into Waseem Ahmed’s ear from time to time.  Waseem Ahmed’s title is as long as his wild-west moustache – additional chief secretary for the home department. But all you need to know is that he used to be the chief of Karachi’s police.These two gentlemen are in Justice Jawwad Khawaja’s court and they are a whisker ...

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The Vice Guide to Karachi will not render my love for the city void

Recently, I came across a documentary – the Vice Guide to Karachi – a short film based on the heart of Pakistan. Shot during the recent Lyari operation, this five-part documentary shows one of the many sides to this big city. Describing Karachi as an ultra-violent metropolis of Pakistan, the documentary specifically revolves around the problems that have given the city the title of being the most violent. In 2011 more than three times as many people were killed in Karachi than the number of people killed in American drone strikes. This statistic stated early on sets the whole tone for the documentary. It serves to provide an ...

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The Lyari we all (don’t) know

If you see people with curly hair, pan gutka in their mouth, speaking their own Balochi version of Urdu, then you are definitely among Lyariites. Being someone unfamiliar with this Pandora island of Karachi, one should be worried because it is here that you are among the most dangerous creatures to be found. In a few minutes you may be killed or drugged, or if lucky, kidnapped. Your head will be ripped off and given to the children to play football. Your hands and legs will be severed and sent to your parents and so on. Unfortunately this is the misperception ...

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Ho Yaqeen: Bringing hope and positivity to Pakistan

“Turn every stone in Pakistan and you find a diamond,” said Sabina Khatri – one of the six central characters of Ho Yaqeen, a project that aims to promote a positive image of Pakistan. She sent chills down my spine. I listened keenly as she spoke at the premiere of HoYaqeen which was attended by the glitterati of Karachi. Pakistan’s first and only Oscar winner, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy was also present at this event. What Sabina said stayed with me; working for a news organisation has made me feel despondent and desolate. As news of torture, rape, kidnapping, sectarian violence and bomb blasts pours ...

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Connecting our cities not just with flyovers but with people

What do you want Islamabad to look like in 2042? If there’s anything the geography component of O’ Level Pakistan Studies taught me, it was to appreciate my city. One of the chapters was “Population in Pakistan”  full of sketches of villagers moving to new cities. A friend underlined one reason given in the textbook for rural-urban migration: Bright lights. “Of all things, that’s why people migrate?” she asked with a bemused laugh. But that is true to some extent as Karachi is a city of bright lights. Take a ride at night and the billboards will prove this. Is your ...

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Why must only the dead deserve attention?

In the past week of killings, arson and general mayhem witnessed in Karachi, many have raised a voice condemning the chaos that spread in the city following the murder of scores of its residents. Accusations and heated condemnations have been levelled, insinuations of gaining knowledge of the true perpetrators of these atrocities exchanged, and the general call for the ever-elusive ‘change’ raised in what has now become an abhorrently futile repetition of finger-pointing and ‘I told you so’s’. I, on the other hand, refuse to put up a false pretence of caring ...

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In a bubble: Away from Lyari

This morning, I was woken by a text message from a friend. “Don’t go to work today,” she wrote. The message said: “Apparently there are a lot of target killings going on, 23 bodies have been recovered. Haalat seem bad, stay home today.” I barely thought anything of it. Haalat are bad everyday and I can’t stop working because of thua. In classic uptown Pakistani fashion, the only thing on my mind was “the odds of something happening to me are a million to one”. It seemed the odds were indeed stacked in my favour. I reached my internship safely – as if nothing ...

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Blood in Ramazan: From Khyber to Karachi

Muslim worshippers of the Jamrud area of Kyber agency were brutally blown to death, during Friday prayers today, the 18th roza of Ramazan this year. The blast left over 50 people dead and numerous injured. This isn’t the first time a mosque has been attacked. Most of  us remember how only a few years ago mosques were the target of sectarian attacks; in fact, there was a mosque attack in March this year. Ramzan is supposed to be a blessed month; but this year has been particularly ‘bloody’ for the people of Pakistan. In Karachi, over ...

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How much money is being pumped into football?

Most people feel that football in Pakistan is a poor man’s sport while many other sports like squash and tennis are not given this tag. Football may be played by poor people but that does not mean it is a sport with no money rather it may be the most well financed sport after cricket and hockey. Karachi plays host to 3 large leagues, Club Football League, Pakistan Premier League and Geo Super League. Each of these leagues is backed by large sponsors. The most expensive league was the Geo Super League which had sponsorships totaling a staggering Rs 90 million. ...

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