A Letter to Editor Dawn
By ABDUL KHALIQUE JUNEJO
THIS is apropos of Bina Shah’s article, ‘Who owns Karachi?’ (Sept 14). Earlier she had come on the columns of this paper with another question, ‘Who is a Sindhi?”
I fail to comprehend what compels her to bring under dispute such settled issues and put question mark over the future of a people who carry a glorious past of more than 5,000 years. Is she doing this with some objective in mind or out of sheer ignorance and/or innocence? She herself says: “I learned more about Karachi from Mr Yousif Dadabhoy’s letter than I have from all my years living in the city, to be honest”.
Honestly speaking, if she really wants to get answers to such important and serious questions, she should open the pages of history books, know more about the process of immigration, natural and unnatural, throughout the world and understand the political and economic interests/motives of the different power players therein.
She considers the city nazim of Karachi ‘forward-thinking and progressive’ and is very much impressed by his ‘My City My Responsibility’ programme, according to which “anyone can come forward and register himself or herself as a city owner. All one has to do is volunteer two hours of time per week doing something in the interest of the city”.
Her one question comes to mind immediately: is this the way of owning cities in the world, particularly the US to which Ms Shah refers so often? Can I go, whenever it suits me, to New York, Paris or London and become its owner by getting my name registered after doing two-hour work in the interest of the city?
And if giving two-hour time can make anyone the owner of Karachi, then what will happen to those who gave sweat and blood to build this city and have spent many generations here? The current nazim has initiated another programme, also called ‘Hamara Karachi, an annual festival, for the last few years. Here people from as far as Kolkata, Hyderabad Deccan and Mumbai are included but no Sindhi is invited.
The writer compares the ‘golden years’ of 40s and 50s of the ‘gem of Karachi’ with ‘today’s Karachi of guns, drugs, crime and filth’ with a sense of sadness.
I would only like to add here, for her knowledge, that this difference, in the exposure of Karachi, is the result of unlimited, uncontrolled, unregulated and free-for-all influx of people from different parts of the world facilitated by such policies as pursued by the sitting mayor.
Ms Shah has fallen prey to the tendency, nowadays being promoted by certain groups, of using such terms as carry serious repercussions for the unity and integrity of Sindh. For example, ‘urban Sindh’ ( and rural Sindh). Through this description the idea being promoted is that the urban Sindh belongs to non-Sindhis ( immigrants)and the native Sindhis occupy the rural Sindh.
The most important part of Ms Shah’s article is the one mentioning plans for picking Thatto as an option (alternative to Karachi)for ‘the disinfranchised population of the old goths of Karachi, as well as a restive interior youth who want to move from the rural to the urban areas of Sindh’.
Here a two-pronged policy is being pursued: ‘old villages’ are being uprooted and the people of ‘interior’ denied entry into the life of Karachi, while people from outside Sindh are being facilitated settlement in Karachi.