Brief History of Karachi: The Birthplace of Pakistan's Founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah

Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, is believed to have started as a small fishing village named Kolachi in 1729.  It attracted the attention of the colonial rulers in 1857 as a suitable site for a major port in British India. Thus began the story of Karachi which has now grown into a megacity of 14,910,352 people, as reported in the most recent 2017 Census of Pakistan. 

Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah

Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founding father of Pakistan, was born in the city of Karachi on December 25, 1876. He also died in Karachi on September 11, 1948, a little over a year after realizing his dream of the creation of Pakistan. In a glowing tribute to Pakistan's founding father, his biographer, American historian Stanley Wolpert, Professor Emeritus at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), wrote the following: “Few individuals significantly alter the course of history. Fewer still modify the map of the world. Hardly anyone can be credited with creating a nation-state. Mohammad Ali Jinnah did all three.”  

Sindh Madrasatul Islam in Karachi

Karachi was built as a walled city. It had two main entrances: Kharadar (sea water gate) facing the Arabian sea and Mithadar (fresh water gate) facing the Lyari river. These two neighborhoods of Karadar and Mithadar still exist as the oldest neighborhoods in Karachi.  Sindh Madrasatul Islam, the Quaid-e-Azam's alma mater, is still located just east of Mithadar neighborhood. The school was founded in 1885 by Hassan Ali Effendi. It had the support of the famous Muslim reformer Sir Syed Ahmad Khan who established MAO College in Aligarh in 1875 which later became Aligarh Muslim University. Sindh Madrasatul Islam became a college in 1943. It was elevated to a university in 2012. 

Aerial View of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah's Mausoleum

A story in the New York Times dated June 17, 1902 reported that Karachi's population at the time was 115,000 and its port's annual trade was worth Rs. 180,000.  Wheat, seeds, cotton and wool were the main exports. There has been a dramatic expansion in the port since the creation of Pakistan in 1947 when it became the capital of the newly created state. The city attracted millions of Muslims from across India, particularly New Delhi and several northern states of India. Most of the new arrivals, referred to as Mohajirs, spoke Urdu which is now the national language of Pakistan.

New York Times on Karachi in 1902

Karachi lost its status as the nation's political capital in 1960s to the newly-built city of Islamabad. However, the Quaid's city continues to be the economic, industrial and financial capital of the country. It is also home to two major ports: Karachi Port and Bin Qasim Port. A third port, Gwadar, located about 400 miles west of Karachi, has recently started operations as the nation's third major seaport. Karachi and Gwadar are connected on the land by Coastal Highway. 

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Riaz Haq said…
Suhail Zaheer Lari, Force for Preservation in Pakistan, Dies at 84
After a corporate career, he devoted his time to chronicling the history of Sindh Province and preserving its cultural heritage. He died from complications of Covid-19.

The ancient cemetery of Makli, near the city of Thatta in Sindh Province, is one of the largest necropolises in the world, so rich in monuments that UNESCO declared it a World Heritage site.

So it became a natural focus of Suhail Zaheer Lari, a prominent Pakistani historian and author, who dedicated himself to documenting the history of Sindh Province, in southern Pakistan. He had a passion for photography, and his images of Makli’s riches became the basis of several proposals for their conservation.

Mr. Lari, a leading force for historic preservation in Pakistan, died in Karachi, Sindh’s capital, on Dec. 5. He was 84. The cause was complications of Covid-19, his family said.

His wife, Yasmeen Lari, a prominent architect, contracted Covid-19 in December but recovered.

The couple founded the Heritage Foundation of Pakistan in 1980 to “create an awareness of Pakistan’s rich and diverse historic architecture and art, and to promote cultural heritage for social integration, peace and development,” according to its website. Its work has resulted in the preservation of more than 600 buildings.

Pakistan possesses an enormous reservoir of diverse historical sites, most of which are in an advanced state of decay. Mr. Lari, through his photography and books, saved many from being forgotten or lost.

Mr. Lari was born on Nov. 13, 1936, and raised in Allahabad, India. His mother, Qabila Khatoon, was a homemaker; his father, Zaheer ul Hasnain Lari, was a lawyer and a judge who was close to Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister.

Mr. Lari’s father did not leave for Pakistan in 1947, as many Muslims did after partition. But as hostilities rose, the family moved to Pakistan in 1950. They lived first in Lahore, then in Karachi.

In a memoir, Mr. Lari said he had decided to study in England and wrote out of the blue to the noted philosopher Isaiah Berlin; he responded and helped him gain entry to St. Catherine’s College at the University of Oxford, where he received a degree in politics, philosophy and economics.

Mr. Lari had met Yasmeen Ahsan in Lahore when they were young and kept up a correspondence. She was in London studying architecture, Mr. Lari wrote in his memoir, while he was at Oxford. Their families initially objected to their marriage, asking them to complete their studies first. Mr. Lari said they told their parents they would have a wedding in Scotland, where the legal age to marry was lower than it was in England.

“At this,” he wrote, “they relented and arranged our marriage in Karachi.”

Mr. Lari returned to Pakistan and joined the corporate world, eventually becoming managing director of the Khyber Insurance Company. He held that job for more than two decades and served in other corporate posts before retiring and devoting himself to writing.

The couple’s house in Karachi in later years became a meeting place for intellectuals, politicians and artists.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Lari is survived by two sons, Humayun and Mihail, and a daughter, Raeena.

Riaz Haq said…
Karachi’s Eid business crossed Rs30b but traders still unhappy

KARACHI: In comparison to last year, Karachi witnessed better Eidul Fitr sales this year, but traders still lack optimism about the situation. All Karachi Tajir Ittehad Chairman Atiq Mir thinks Eid business in the city has hardly crossed the Rs30 billion mark. Last year it was barely Rs10 billion.

According to the city’s electronic market association, their business was 75 per cent less this Ramazan. The cloth merchant association believes that there was no drastic difference in this year’s Eid sales in comparison to last year.

“Last year before Eidul Fitr, everything was closed due to Covid-19. In the last days of Ramazan we got a little time until 4pm,” Mir said while talking to The News. “There wasn’t any sale, nor any business.”

However, he lamented, this year they had great expectations, but by limiting the business timing to 6pm, the government deprived traders of a better opportunity to earn. “We have a trend of night shopping, especially during Ramazan. It’s not our culture to shop during the day.”

Despite all these constraints, he said, traders made at least Rs30 billion in sales this Eid. “Had we gotten a complete opportunity, our sales would have touched Rs50 billion to Rs60 billion this season.”

He said that in comparison to the neighbouring countries in the region, Pakistan’s textile industry is doing better. Other countries are on lockdown, which is why Pakistan’s textile and stitch garment industries are getting orders from abroad, he added.

“Three months before Ramazan the branded item garment sector was busy due to orders from foreign countries,” he said, adding that they still have orders for the next few months, and all they need is permission to work.

Cloth Merchant Association President Ahmed Chinoy told The News that this year’s Eid sales were better than last year, but due to a complete lockdown in the last days of Ramazan, their business was badly affected. Last year, he said, they had sales of less than Rs1 billion, which was unprecedentedly low for Ramazan shopping.

He said that due to the lockdown, they experienced difficulties in delivering their finished products to their customers. “The loss of shutting down a medium-sized factory for a day is Rs0.5 million.”

He added that completely shutting down factories for 10 days consecutively will not benefit anyone. As for the small merchant traders, he said that they experience a loss of at least Rs0.1 million with a day’s shutdown.

When asked about sales in comparison to last year, he replied that they are better but have remained around Rs1 billion, reasoning that the people of this city are in the habit of shopping in the last 10 days of Ramazan, and that too at night.

When asked about exports, he responded that after the lockdown as well as shutting down their production and import of cotton worth Rs2 billion, their exports will also be adversely affected. Raheel Paracha, president of the Victoria Welfare Association of the Victoria Shopping Centre (Zainab Market), lamented that there was no difference in Eid sales in comparison to last year. During Ramazan this year, he pointed out, the market remained open for hardly 12 or 13 days, and last year it was 10 to 12 days. “Shopkeepers have incurred huge losses. They had garments worth millions of rupees in their shops that they couldn’t sell.”

He said that retailers call him up daily for permission to allow them to open their shops so that they can at least sell garments online, but the police do not allow them. Karachi Electronic Dealers Association President Rizwan Irfan shared with The News that they saw only 25 per cent Eid sales this year and incurred 75 per cent losses.

Riaz Haq said…
Last year #Karachi accounted for 51% of #Pakistan’s #exports. #Lahore came in 2nd with 18% and #Faisalabad 3rd with 12%
Riaz Haq said…
Green Line buses for Karachi

There is a reason for Karachiites to smile as the first tranche of 40 buses of the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS), also known as the Green Line, have arrived. It is part of the Rs27 billion allocation under the gigantic Rs1.1 trillion Karachi Transformation Project. The Green Line project was conceived by the previous government but could not materialise in time. A total of 80 buses would run on the first-ever mass transit in Karachi as a special 22km corridor has been built for the purpose. It is hoped that half a million commuters would benefit from this in the first phase scheduled to get operational in two months.

With a hurrah beginning, one hopes the metropolitan will see development in all civic avenues. This 22km driveway transcends a mere 20% of the city, and what is needed is similar mass transit buses plying on other arteries, especially the peripheral routes. The potholes-laden roads and streets are in need of re-carpeting, as they are a nuisance to motorists. Last but not the least is the Karachi Circular Railway, which has become a white elephant project owing to a plethora of blunders and non-seriousness of relevant authorities. It is unimaginable to learn that the city is deprived of its due share of water, and it necessitates an immediate completion of K-IV project, apparently a victim of provincial and federal bureaucracy. Similarly, rainwater drains and desilting are other blind corners that need instant attention to make the city liveable.

The megacity of around 25 million people has for long been a victim of poor planning and biased allocations when it comes to development. This is why its civic infrastructure is dilapidated, and people long for even basic recreation facilities. This culture of ad hocism has been toiling and heart-burning for Karachiites who are, in fact, the real revenue generators for the country. The ruling PTI, which has a lion’s share in the National Assembly from Karachi, has a responsibility and mandate to deliver. Erecting an edifice of a modern metropolitan cannot be lingered on any more.
Riaz Haq said…
• Coastal comprehensive development zone to be established on KPT’s reclaimed land
• $3.5bn plan envisages new berths for port, new fishery port, harbour bridge to unlock Pakistan’s Blue Economy
• Centre calls the initiative a game-changer for Pakistan

KARACHI: Calling it a “game-changer”, the federal government on Satur­day unveiled an ambitious plan to rebuild Karachi’s coastline under the China-Pakistan Economic Corri­dor (CPEC) with $3.5 billion “direct Chinese investment” that aims to overhaul city’s seaboard with new berths for the port, a new fishery port and a ‘majestic harbour bridge’ connecting it with Manora islands and Sandspit beach.

The Karachi Coastal Co­m­prehensive Develop­ment Zone (KCCDZ) — spread over 640 hectares or 1,581 acres on the western backwaters marsh land of the Karachi Port Trust (KPT) leading to revamp one of the oldest city slums Machhar Colony relocating its more than half a million population — is an initiative of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs.

The KCCDZ is the latest addition to CPEC projects aimed at providing Karachi with an ultra modern urban infrastructure zone, placing it among the top port cities of the world.

The announcement came from the top when a key member of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s cabinet sha­red some details of the project and claimed it carried “enormous potential for global investors as well”.

“And the best thing of this project is that it’s solely based on foreign [Chinese] investment without any loan,” said Minister for Mar­i­time Affairs Syed Ali Zaidi while speaking to Dawn.

Also read: Slow pace of work on CPEC irks Chinese companies

“The Chinese work so fast and I guess that it would not take more than five or six years to complete the project. Under the agreed plan, we would relocate some 20,000 to 25,000 families from Machhar Colony and relocate them. Believe me it’s a huge thing for Pakistan. It’s something massive. It would bring multifold advantages to Pakistan’s maritime economy and further strengthen our coastal development.”

He said after assuming the office as the minister for maritime affairs he vigorously looked for the opportunity for the KCCDZ and made all-out efforts to include it in the CPEC projects. For this purpose, he added, he consulted a number of Chinese companies, investors and officials of the neighbouring country and his efforts finally yielded results.

Earlier, the federal minister shared the “monumental decision” on a social me­dia platform, coming up with ske­tchy details of the KCCDZ. He, however, did not explain terms and conditions that convinced the Chinese investors to pour in $3.5 billion (around Rs592 billion).

“A monumental decision was taken during the 10th Joint Cooperation Commi­ttee (JCC) on CPEC, held on 23rd September 2021 at Islamabad and Beijing,” Mr Zaidi tweeted while sharing a formal statement of the announcement.

“The two countries agreed to include KCCDZ under the CPEC framework. KCCDZ, an initiative of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs focuses on providing Karachi with an ultra modern urban infrastructure zone, placing Karachi amongst the top port cities of the world.”

The minister also shared animated and picturesque images of a developed KCCDZ, showing a huge developed coastline dotted with multiple buildings, concrete structures and planned neighbourhoods without mentioning their utilities. He claimed all the developments would take place over “reclaimed area of the KPT” spanning over huge 640 hectares or 1581.474 acres.

“Developed on reclaimed area of approximately 640 hectares on the Western back waters marsh land of KPT, KCCDZ will be a flagship project for not only Pakistan but the entire region,” the statement claimed.
Riaz Haq said…
#China Plans $3.5B #Investment in #Pakistani #Port Project. Karachi Coastal Comprehensive Development Zone, or #KCCDZ to include constructing a mixed-use residential/commercial/seaport project on underutilized lands of the #Karachi Port Trust. #CPEC

At this year's joint meeting on the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, Pakistan's Ministry of Maritime Affairs came away with a huge commitment. The Chinese government has agreed to make a direct investment - not a loan - of $3.5 billion in the Karachi Coastal Comprehensive Development Zone, or KCCDZ. This massive proposal would include constructing a mixed-use residential/commercial/seaport project on underutilized lands belonging to the Karachi Port Trust.

Illustrations of the 1,500-acre development show a mixture of high- and mid-rise buildings on a strip of reclaimed land, just across an inlet from Karachi's TP3 sewage treatment plant. The illustration suggests that its new buildings and roads will also replace the Machar Colony neighborhood, an unplanned settlement also known as the Fisherman's Colony. This area is home to about 150,000 people, primarily low-income residents who work in fishing or shrimp-processing, according to Medecins Sans Frontieres.

In a release, Pakistan's Ministry of Maritime Affairs said that the project would include residential resettlement assistance for "more than 20,000 families living in the surrounding slums."

The proposed development also appears to transform the fishing harbor on the port's West Wharf - a jam-packed marina for small fishing vessels - into a new waterfront commercial district. According to the ministry, a new "state-of-the-art fishing port" will take its place, along with a "world-class fisheries export processing zone," according to the ministry.

KCCDZ will also add four new ship berths for the Karachi Port Trust, located on the new, reclaimed "peninsula" in the harbor. It will also add a giant harbor bridge across Baba Channel, giving the new district a direct highway connection with Karachi's container terminals. It also adds an extra sewage plant adjacent to the existing TP3 facility.

"The KCCDZ will unlock Pakistan’s unexplored Blue Economy and significantly enhance development and industrial cooperation between the two brotherly countries," the ministry said. "The KCCEZ is a game-changer for Pakistan."
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan and China unveil ambitious plan to develop Karachi coast

KARACHI -- In an ambitious turn, Pakistan and China have agreed to develop the Karachi coast, possibly shifting away from Gwadar as the center stage of the Belt and Road project in Pakistan, following ongoing problems at the southwestern province of Balochistan.

A memorandum of understanding was signed for the Karachi Coastal Comprehensive Development Zone project during the recently held 10th Joint Cooperation Committee meeting of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, or CPEC, after a gap of almost two years.

Based on details shared by Pakistan, China will invest $3.5 billion, separately confirmed by a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, in the project which includes adding new berths to Karachi port, developing a new fisheries port and a 640-hectare trade zone on the western backwater marshland of the Karachi Port Trust. The project also envisages building a harbor bridge connecting the port with the nearby Manora islands.


The writing was already on the wall for some. In June, Saudi Arabia decided to shift a proposed $10-billion oil refinery to Karachi from Gwadar. This was a major shock to the government's plans of building an energy hub in Gwadar, which is facing massive protests due to lack of water and power.

Now, Gwadar stands to lose even more foreign investment. Karachi is the largest city and the main commercial hub of Pakistan and also home to the busiest port.

Malik Siraj Akbar, a South Asia analyst based in Washington, believes that Karachi offers not only better infrastructure, but also tighter law and order, making it an ideal hub for CPEC. "The Chinese want CPEC to leave its mark as a symbol of rising Chinese power without particular interests in any specific region in Pakistan," he said.

Krzysztof Iwanek, head of the Asia Research Center at Warsaw's War Studies University, said that the challenges of developing a major port in an underdeveloped area like Gwadar must have been factored in by China from the outset.

"[I]t may be assumed that Chinese involvement in Gwadar may be at least partially strategic. Karachi, in turn, is Pakistan's most important port, and, hence, Chinese involvement there may be of purely economic nature," Iwanek said.

Despite the signing of the agreement and expression of commitment from the Chinese side, analysts fear that implementation will be difficult.

Iwanek believes that Belt and Road projects are under scrutiny in China, as funds are no longer distributed so liberally as loans and there is a focus on more feasible projects. He suggested that it will not be easy for Pakistan to draw investments or loans for this project because China is lending with a greater focus on "pragmatism" now.

Arif Rafiq, president of Vizier Consulting, a New York-based political risk assessment firm, shares that view and said that the project had a long way to go.

"Feasibility studies, including on the environmental impact, need to be conducted. The dredging will destroy existing mangroves, which serve as a vital, natural defense against storms and erosion," he said. He claimed that as many as 500,000 people will have to be resettled, which will be a politically contentious process.

Gwadar's sudden fall from grace has implications for wider Belt and Road enterprises. Analysts said that the way Pakistan and China are dealing with Gwadar implies that any problematic project of Belt and Road, irrespective of its potential, can either be dropped or put on the back burner.

"Pakistan and China had an opportunity to develop [Gwadar] port in a conflict zone but several factors, such as corruption, mismanagement, lack of public support and transparency, have led to a loss of interest in the Gwadar Port," said Malik, as he warned that other problematic Belt and Road projects could face the same fate.

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