by Alan Jhons
Keti Bandar is a small fishing village situated about 150 kilometers east of Karachi. It is nestled in one of the many thousands of creeks, rivers and dykes which make up the mouth of the Indus River, It was one of the richest ports of the region. The residents of Keti Bandar proudly claim that this port granted a loan to Karachi Municipal Committee during nineteenth century. This is no more in operation since 1935. Now not even the ruins of the port are visible due to sea erosion. Most of the inhabitants believe that Keti Bandar is actually the port of Debal where Muhammad bin Qasim along with his army arrived through ships from Iraq. Dibla tribe settled at Keti Bandar which justifies their claim to some extents.
The ports of coastal belt of Thatto are Keti Bandar, Bagan, Kharo Chhan etc. and are located 160 kilometres south east from Karachi. Keti bandar was once a thriving river port in the indus river delta in southern pakistan, with impressive public buildings, a customs office and warehouse for exports. Today it can barely stay above water. Sea waves lash against its protective embankments on three sides, leaving only a thin, 2km long isthmus by way of a land bridge to the mainland. And the water levels keep rising. Two years ago, the high tide barely came up to the ruins of a rice mill located just outside the town. Now that has been completely submerged.The signs of a prosperous past are still visible,such as the crumbling pillars of a vast villa that belonged to a Hindu village head. But all the remains on island today are a few hundred fishermen’s huts, made of straw-mat walls and thatched roofs.
The area is low and sparse. Sparse in all ways, by which I mean little to no vegetation due to the saline waters, few people due to the simple fact there is nothing there to sustain them except fishing and flat like all delta regions. Even the drinking water is trucked in. There is also evidence of some power lines. Two lines, one had collapsed and a one was being built.
The only access to Keti Bandar is by road from Sakro or of course fishing boat. We did also see evidence of a helicopter pad marked out on the road. We suspected this was for military purposes as we are only about 100 kilometers from the Indian Boarder.
Given what I have just said I was surprised to see an asphalted road at all, I had been preparing myself for a long haul over rough terrain, being bumped from side to side for what would surely have seemed like hours. In fact we took an hour getting out of Karachi (that’s 20 kilometers !) due to traffic and here in the delta we were batting along at 120 plus!