Karachi is one of the largest mega-cities of the world with a population of about 14 million inhabitants. It is the largest city of Pakistan and is located on the coast of the Arabian Sea northwest of the delta of river Indus. Karachi has the largest port of Pakistan and is a large financial and commercial and industrial center accounting for a majority of overseas trade conducted in Pakistan.
||City District of Karachi
||3527 sq. km
||8 m AMSL
||11,969,284 (2006 est.)
||3394 Persons/sq. km
||Syed Mustafa Kamal
Karachi is located in the south of Pakistan, on the coast of the Arabian Sea. The city covers an area of approximately 3,530 square kilometers, comprised largely of flat or rolling plains, with hills on the western and northern boundaries of the urban sprawl. Two rivers pass through the city: the Malir River which flows from the east towards the south and center, and the Lyari River, which flows from north to the south west. The Karachi Harbor is a shelt
ered bay to the south-west of the city, protected from storms by the Sandspit Beach, the Manora Island and the Oyster Rocks. The Arabian Sea beach lines the southern coastline of Karachi. Dense mangroves and creeks of the Indus Delta can be found towards the south east side of the city. Towards the west and the north is Cape Monze, an area marked with projecting sea cliffs and rocky sandstone promontories. Some excellent beaches can also be found in this area.
Located on the coast, Karachi tends to have a relatively mild climate with low levels of average precipitation (approximately 10 inches per annum), the bulk of which occurs during the July-August monsoon season. Winters are mild and the summers are hot, however the proximity to the sea maintains humidity levels at a near-constant high and cool sea breezes relieve the heat of the summer months. Due to high temperatures during the summer (ranging from 30 to 44 degrees Celsius from April through August), the winter months (November through February) are generally considered the best times to visit Karachi. July, December and January have pleasing and cloudy weather when most of the social events, ranging from weddings to charity fundraisers, frequently take place. Tourists and expatriates visit Karachi in these months.
|Karachi Port Area
Karachi is primarily a port city with the Port of Karachi and Port Qasim (located on the outskirts of the city) serving as the two main seaports of Pakistan. These ports handle the overseas trade of goods from Pakistan, Afghanistan and the landlocked Central Asian countries. It is also a financial and industrial center, accounting for a lion’s share of the country’s GDP and contributing about 65% of the national revenue. Most of Pakistan’s public and private banks are headquartered in Karachi. The city is also home to one of the best performing stock exchanges in Asia, the Karachi Stock Exchange, which is located along with a number of other financial institutions on I. I. Chundrigar Road, Pakistan’s Wall Street. Karachi also has two large industrial estates: the SITE, and the sprawling Korangi Industrial Area, coupled with another large industrial area near Port Qasim. These estates are home to petrochemical refineries, and industries related to pharmaceuticals, textiles, automobiles, iron and steel, and other manufacturing works. Karachi also has a large software and IT industry and is quickly starting to become a major player in the call center services industry as well. Many of Pakistan’s independent television and radio channels are based in Karachi and generate a major chunk of business revenue. The present economic boom in Pakistan has resulted in Karachi attracting a lot of new businesses and a lot of foreign and local companies have started opening their branch and head offices in the city.
|Bird's Eye View Near Saddar
CULTURE AND DEMOGRAPHY
Karachi’s population is a cosmopolitan mix of people from all regions of Pakistan and abroad. The majority of the inhabitants are descendents of the migrants from the time of partition of Pakistan. These people make up 48% of the city’s population and are primarily educated urbanites who speak Urdu as their native language. The other 52% of the population is made up of Punjabis (14%), Pushtuns (11%), Sindhis (7%), Balochis (4%) and other ethnic groups including Afghan refugees. Iranians, Bengalis, Arabs and people from other areas of the world can also be seen living and working here. This mix of people gives Karachi a reputation of being the melting pot of Pakistan.
The culture of Karachi is very cosmopolitan and differs substantially from the culture of other Pakistani cities and towns. There are heavy influences from Western, Middle Eastern and other South Asian cultures. Karachiites tend to be urbane in humor and rational and pragmatic in their approach to life. A large degree of professionalism can also be noted in the character of its inhabitants. Karachi also plays host to the largest stratum of middle class inhabitants in Pakistan. Tribal affiliations and showy feudal lifestyle are frowned upon and do not exist in the city unlike other Pakistani cities and towns.
Karachiites are avid shoppers and enjoy good eating. There are a large number of shopping opportunities that can be found in the city ranging from street vendors to large modern shopping malls. Some good areas for shopping are Tariq Road, Saddar, Clifton, and the Empress Market (a colonial era market with wholesale vendors). A trend of themed dining has also taken root in the city with the opening of a large selection of trendy and themed restaurants serving cuisines from all parts of the world.
The Karachi city and its environs fall under the City District of Karachi as implemented by the devolution plan of 2001. It is governed by the City District Government of Karachi (CDGK) with the Nazim as its head. The City District is divided into 18 towns governed by the Town Municipal Administrations. These authorities report to the CDGK and are responsible for infrastructure and spatial planning, development facilitation, and municipal services (water, sanitation, solid waste, repairing roads, parks, street lights, and traffic engineering), with some functions being retained by the CDG.
All towns are further subdivided into a total of 178 localities governed by the locally elected union councils (UC’s), which are the core element of the local government system. The UC Nazim heads the union administration and is responsible for facilitating the CDG to plan and execute municipal services, as well as for informing higher authorities about public concerns and complaints.
A list of the towns that fall under the CDGK is as under:
- Baldia Town
- Bin Qasim Town
- Gadap Town
- Gulberg Town
- Gulshan Town
- Jamshed Town
- Kiamari Town
- Korangi Town
- Landhi Town
- Liaquatabad Town
- Lyari Town
- Malir Town
- New Karachi Town
- North Nazimabad Town
- Orangi Town
- Saddar Town
- Shah Faisal Town
- SITE Town
The Defense Housing Society of Karachi, which is one of the largest housing schemes in Asia, does not fall under the jurisdiction of the CDGK and is not a town of Karachi. However, it is administered by the Defense Housing Authority of the Pakistan Army.
|Saint Patrick's Cathedral
The area of Karachi has been known to the ancient Greeks by many names: Krokola, the place where Alexander the Great camped to prepare a fleet for Babylonia after his campaign in the Indus valley; Morontobara port (probably Manora), from where admiral Nearchus sailed for back home; and Barbarikon, a sea port of the Indo-Greek Bactrian kingdom. It was also known as the port of Deebul to the Arabs, from where Muhammad Bin Qasim led his conquering force into South Asia in 712AD.
According to legend however, the present city started its life as a fishing settlement where a fisherwoman by the name of Mai Kolachee took up residence and started a family. The village that later grew out of this settlement was known as Kalachi-jo-Goth (The village of Kolachi in Sindhi). By the late 1700’s this village started trading across the sea with Muscat and the Persian Gulf region which led to its gaining importance, and a small fort was constructed for its protection, with a few canons imported from Muscat. The fort had two main gateways one facing the sea, known as Khara Darwaaza (Brackish Gate) and the other facing the adjoining Lyari river known as the Meetha Darwaaza (Sweet Gate). The location of these gates corresponds to the present-day city localities of Kharadar and Meethadar respectively.
In 1795, Kalachi-jo-Goth passed on from the control of the Khan of Kalat to becoming a domain of the Talpur rulers of Sindh. The British, venturing and enterprising in South Asia opened a small factory here in September 1799, which got closed down within a year owing to some disputes with the ruling Talpurs. But this village by the mouth of the Indus river had caught the attention of the British East India Company who after sending a couple of exploratory missions to the area, conquered the town on February 3rd, 1839. The village was later annexed to the British Indian Empire when the province of Sindh was conquered in Charles Napier in 1843. Kolachi was added along with the rest of Sindh to the jurisdiction of the Bombay Presidency.
Karachi had entered into a turning point in its life. The British realized its importance as a military cantonment and a port for the produce of the Indus basin, and rapidly developed its harbor for shipping. The foundations of a city municipal government were laid down by Commissioner in Sinde, Bartle Frere and infrastructure development was undertaken. Consequently, new businesses started opening up and the population of the town started rising rapidly. Karachi quickly turned into a city.
In 1857, the Indian rebellion broke out in the sub-continent and the 21st Native Infantry stationed in Karachi declared allegiance to revolters and joined their cause on September 10. However, the British were able to quickly reassert their control over Karachi and defeat the uprising.
|The KMC building, constructed in 1931
In 1864, a direct telegraph connection was laid down between Karachi and London from where the first telegraphic message was sent from India to England. In 1878, the city was connected to the rest of British India by railway line. Public building projects such as the Frere Hall (1865) and the Empress Market (1890) were undertaken. In 1876, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, was born in the city which by now had become a bustling city with railroad, churches, mosques, courthouses, markets and paved streets. The opening of the Suez canal in 1869 also added to the importance of the city’s port. The Karachi Port Trust was established in 1886 and by 1899 Karachi had become the largest wheat exporting port in the East (Feldman 1970:57). The population of the city had also risen to about 105,000 inhabitants by the end of the 19th century and was a cosmopolitan mix of Indian Hindus and Muslims, European traders, Parsis, Iranians, Lebanese, and Goan merchants. The population of the city grew from 73,500 (1881), to 105,199 (1891), to 115,407 (1901) (Britannica 1911 ed.) and by the turn of the century, the city faced street congestion for which, India’s first tramway system was laid down in Karachi in 1900.
By 1914, Karachi had become the largest grain exporting port of the British Empire. In 1924, an aerodrome was built and Karachi became the main airport of entry into India. An airship mast was also built in Karachi in 1927 as part of the Imperial Airship Communications scheme, which unfortunately got abandoned due to the destruction of airship R 101 in 1930. In 1836, Sindh was separated from the Bombay Presidency and Karachi was made the capital of the new province. By the time the new country of Pakistan was formed in 1947 as British India was gained independence, Karachi had become a bustling metropolitan city with beautiful classical and colonial European styled buildings lining the city’s thoroughfares.
Karachi was chosen as the capital city of Pakistan and accommodated a huge influx of migrants and refugees to the newly formed country. As a consequence, the demographics of the city also changed drastically. It still maintained a great cultural diversity with its new inhabitants coming from all the different parts of the subcontinent, bringing with them a colorful mix of regional cultures. Karachi kept growing in importance as the country’s capital and economical center.
In 1958, the capital of Pakistan was shifted from Karachi to Rawalpindi and then to Islamabad in 1960. This marked the start of a long period of decline in the city owing to a lack of governmental attention and development. The city’s population continued to grow exceeding the capacity of its creaking infrastructure and increased the pressure on the city. Haphazard development, commercialism, and disregard to its heritage deteriorated the character of the city and degraded its living environment. The 1980’s and 90’s also saw an influx of refugees from the Afghan war into Karachi. Political tensions between the Mohajir groups (descendents of migrants from the partition era) and other groups also erupted and the city was wracked with political and sectarian violence.
Since the last couple of years however, most of these tensions have largely simmered down and the government has again started focusing its efforts towards the redevelopment of the city. Currently, Karachi is a melting pot where people from all the different parts of Pakistan can be found. It continues to be an important financial and industrial center for the country and handles most of the overseas trade of Pakistan and the Central Asian countries. The current economic boom in Pakistan has also resulted in a new period of resurgence in the economy of Karachi and a lot of new opportunities have opened up in the city. The city government is also undertaking a massive upgrading of the city’s infrastructure which promises to again put Karachi into the lineup of one of the world’s greatest metropolitan cities.
SITES OF INTEREST
A short list of notable attractions in the city of Karachi is given below. This list is by no means exhaustive and covers just some of the main attractions that can be found in the city. In addition, there are a number of upcoming projects in the city (such as the waterfront development plan) that promise to add to the list and drastically change Karachi’s lifestyle in the near future.
- The mausoleum of Quaid-e-Azam, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, founder of Pakistan
- Koocha-e-Saqafat, the National Arts Council
- Masjide Tooba (Tooba Mosque), the largest single-domed mosque in the world
- Ibrahim Ismail Chundrigar Road, the country’s Wall Street
- Aga Khan Medical University and Hospital, for its notable fusion Islamic architecture
- The Port Fountain Jet, a 600 ft high fountain on the beachfront which is the second tallest in the world.
- The KMC building
- Frere Hall
- Merewether Memorial Tower
- Empress Market
- St. Patrick’s cathedral
- The Trinity Church
- M. A. Jinnah Road, which is lined on both sides with beautiful colonial buildings, although they have deteriorated in condition and need restoration work.
Museums and Expo:
- National Museum Pakistan
- The Naval maritime Museum
- Air Force Museum
- The Mohatta Palace Museum of Karachi’s history
- The Karachi Expo Center, which holds various domestic and international trade and industry exhibitions throughout the year.
Beaches and Waterfront:
- The Clifton Beach and the Beach Park
- Jehangir Kothari parade and the Ibne Qasim Park
- Sandspit beach
- Hawke’s Bay (a breeding ground for endangered turtles)
- Manora Island and the Oyester Rocks
- The French Beach
- Paradise Point (a rock promontory with a natural arch)
- Gadani Beach and Shipbreaking Yard (northwest of Cape Monze)
After a long period of governmental neglect, the new government of Pervaiz Musharraf promised Karachi a development package worth 29 billion Pakistani Rupees. Under this package, a number of infrastructure development projects have been initialized over the past few years. These projects range from the overhauling of the city water and sewerage systems, to recarpeting of major roads, construction of flyovers and underpasses, and drafting of a master plan for the city of Karachi among many others. The Lyari Expressway is also being developed as part of this development package. The Nazims of Karachi have been playing an active role in bringing about this development, and consequently, the urban character of Karachi is undergoing a massive revitalization. Karachi has a huge economic base and a tremendous potential for investment. Therefore, a lot of mega projects have also been undertaken by private companies. Some notable projects that have been proposed and started in Karachi are listed as follows:
- Creek City – Creek Vistas apartment complex (by Meinhardt, almost nearing completion)
- Creek City – Creek Marina (by Meinhardt, in initial stages of construction)
- Dolmen City ( an under-construction mega mall, 18 story office towers, and two proposed 65 story buildings being undertaken by Dolmen Builders)
- Crescent Bay Karachi (a huge residential development proposed by Emaar of Dubai)
- Karachi Waterfront (another proposed residential development project by Dubai Ports World company Limitless)
- I. T. Towers (approved)
- Enshaa Towers (by CPG consultants of Singapore)
- Karachi Mass Transit Project (under study and invitation of proposals)
- Bundal and Buddoo Island development (approved, but controversial)
The city of Karachi is a mega city of 14 million people. Like all other Asian megacities, it faces a massive population growth rate which puts a strain on the city’s infrastructure. Some of the main problems Karachi faces are as follows:
- A shortage of residential development which has created a housing shortage in the city.
- Street congestion. Even though a number of projects are being undertaken to improve traffic flow, a lot more improvement is required along with the introduction of rail-based mass transit
- High air pollution, which has decreased substantially over the past couple of years however, due to a mass scale switch-over to vehicles running on CNG rather than petrol or diesel.
- Street crime, at a level which can be expected of a city the size of Karachi
- Water and power shortages
- Land and transport mafias hindering development in those sectors.
- Corruption in the police ranks.
In spite of these problems, Karachi is currently making rapid progress and is expected to be developed on par with the other mega cities of the world.
Discussion Section: Click Here
Copyright © by .::UrbanPK::. All Right Reserved. Published on: 2006-11-3