Dec 30, 2009 - terrorism    32 Comments

I ♥ the bleeding city of Karachi

After leading a nomadic life for a better part of his life, my dad chose Karachi to be his home and bought our house back in 1975. Of all his children, I am the only one who is a true blue Karachiite – born and raised in the city I affectionately call ‘the city of candle lights’.

My father used to work for a bank in a tall building on Chundrigar Road. Being an over curious child I wanted to know everything about his work. I must have been around 9 years old when he took me to his office for a day. I did not learn anything about banking except for the fact that everyone swivels their chairs in the office and was suitably impressed by his assistant’s perfectly coifed hair – a kind lady who gave me a lot of office stationary. One thing that is still vivid in my mind about that visit was my first glimpse of Merewether Tower from his 11th floor office’s glass window. That was the day I fell in love with the city I still call home.

After that day, I would request my dad to take me to work every day because I wanted to see the city. He obviously refused and I remember telling him in a huff that one day, I too will have an office on the same road. Fast forward to a few years and I am newbie at a newspaper. I was given assignments that no one would take and I gladly took them all because those assignments gave me the chance to discover my city. I have had a fairly protected middle class upbringing where parents pick and drop the children and don’t let them wander around the city. My new found independence was heady and I discovered Kharadar and Methadar, Bolton Market, Tower, Urdu Bazaar, Chakiwara and Lyari while meandering through the streets on the pretext of working on my stories. For someone who cannot file the tax returns of her minuscule salary, the sight of white clad old Memon entrepreneurs calculating millions on old rusty calculators was enchanting. I remember my first visit to Jackson, a notorious area in Lyari famous for finding all the stolen goods where a man wanted to sell me a fairly new stolen motorbike for 10,000. When I told him that I don’t know how to ride a bike he threw in the lessons for another 200 rupees. I remember discovering a paan wala near Civil Hospital who sold special pan for 250 rupees a piece. I also remember my first visit to Lunda Bazaar where I was astounded to find out that if you look hard enough, you can actually find the labels you are looking for. Each and every part and person of the old city made me fall in love with Karachi a little more.

One of my German friends who lived in Islamabad for a few years once asked me why do I love Karachi and I said I don’t know. Loving Karachi is an acquired taste and those who have not lived here would never know it. Karachiites love their city the way a mother loves her ugly child, warts and all, but I have always known one thing. One of the reason I love Karachi is the business district and the area surrounding it. I love the buildings from the British Raj period and once told Nasreen Jalil, city’s deputy mayor, that she is the luckiest woman in the city not only because she has an office in one of the grandest buildings (KMC Building) in the city, she has a designated parking space to her name.

In a planned arson attempt on December 28th 2009, part of the same building along with Denso Hall, Akbar Building and approximately 1500 shops on M. A. Jinnah Road, Bolton Market and adjacent areas were set ablaze. According to renowned architect Yasmin Lari, the one-and-a-half kilometers strip between the KMC building and Merewether Tower houses about 60 historical buildings, majority of them protected under the Sind Cultural Heritage Protection Act. Not only people have lost their livelihood and their life savings in the fire, we, the citizens, have lost a part of the architecture that made Karachi the city it was. I am at a loss why such incidents of vandalism happen in Karachi alone and nowhere else in the city, who are the people who surface after every such tragedy armed with petrol and phosphorus to loot and burn the city. I almost died on December 27, 2007 when similar carnage was wreaked upon the citizens of Karachi and I know of people who are still reeling from the financial loss they accrued on that fateful day two years ago.

The suicide bomber who started it all obviously died, but the CCTV footage shows the faces of vandals. They not only destroyed the private property of the shopkeepers in the area, they also burned down public property such as Police and KESC vehicles and buildings under cultural heritage protection. As a tax paying citizen, I DEMAND that the home ministry runs the faces of vandals through NADRA’s database, find them and publicly punish them so that people will think twice about destroying public property in future. They should also release the tapes to the media so that we will know the faces of the people who destroyed our beloved city. I, along with all the other tax payers bear the cost of such acts and I am sick & tired of paying for it. I want the culprits behind the bars and I want them there right now.

The tower of the KMC Building is visible behind the theick dark smoke.

The vandals

The fire that turned millionaires into penniless people.

The burnt CDGK vehicles in KMC building compound.

Photos were stolen from BBC and Dawn

Clip to Evernote


  • My heart also bleeds to see the death and destruction in this lovable city that I was born, bred and still choose to live in. The pics show the vandals, thanks sfor posting. who are the people who sprayed phosphorus and burnt Boulton market and all the particular patch of market of traders . Who is behind this planned arson. Surely this is not the azadaaran. Who is behind attack on trading and finance of Karachi? Will there be a complete investigation? Just like post Benazir death there was destruction especially of Industry and no real answers were given, the same will be our fate? Again and again? Why only CDGK has the footage and no one else? Why should Karachiites pay for the destruction of the whole country? This is the question. Who owns Karachi? Certainly not theses criminals , looters who will disappear to their own regions, This is the question?

  • I too mourn with you for Karachi – and too seethe with anger against ALL those who vandalized what that was left of the city…:( What will it take to bring justice to the Republic that is proclaimed under the name of Islam!?

  • Unfortunately, we don’t have just one kind of terrorism in this country. There are people who blow themselves up, and then, there are those who blow apart this country, LITERALLY.


  • I am unanimous with you on the point that why is it only Karachi that vandalism and terrorism of another kind erupt after any such incident.
    It is because no one has ever been punished or even put to trial yet. In this day and age where we have got the command and control system of the CDGK as well as surveilance cameras of other govt. agencies, it’s about time that the authorities should not only capture but exemplary punishment should be given to those involved in the arson and vandalism.
    I love Karachi too.

  • Its really sad people destroying cultural heritage of a country. Though I am shocked to hear so many similar incidents in Pakistan. I hope people maintain peace and government to put the responsible person behind the bars.

  • i use almost the exact same analogy:
    i love karachi like a mother loves a misbehaved child; unconditionally.

    and i feel like it could have been me writing this post, in the parts where you mention your love for it, and how you don’t understand why.
    and I am enraged at the acts of vandalism.
    what is this jahalat?
    how is it any way to show displeasure at a suicide bombing?? I’m so frustrated by all this that i cant even put it down coherently.

  • The mob behavior that prevails after every sad incident in Karachi is alarming, it show how intolerant our society is becoming, vandalism and riots is somewhat perceived has an inherit right of the aggrieved party. It is sad that essence of Ashura is forgotten and the culprits are the Yazids of our times!

  • What is the link to pictures of vandals?

  • “Karachiites love their city the way a mother loves her ugly child, warts and all.”

    These folks are not outsiders. There were probably teenagers among them, young college students, family men, all sorts of people who shared one thing in common: they were the face of the all-consuming and uncontrolled anger that marks the rioting mobs after every such incident in Karachi. They aren’t much different from the people who burnt six hapless restaurant workers to death inside the KFC building on NIPA Chowrangi. They all turn ruthless, and soulless in that moment of self-righteous anger, and tragically, they are from within our own twisted society. That’s what’s horrifying.

    What’s worse is that all these people will get up on the next working day, go to work or whatever it is they do as if nothing happened. As if they didn’t just destroy thousands of lives.

    There’s always been so little compensation and punishment for crime in this country that every aggrieved party, as Ammar said, really does consider rioting and looting its inherent right. What was started as a trend by power-hungry political parties in the nineties to stamp their dominance on the city, has become a social trend. Until there is a transparent and visible system of punishment for crime and for vandalism like this, this psychotic craziness will keep repeating itself until there’s just no point of control. I don’t know if there one left even right now.

  • Ibrahim,

    I took the photos from metblogs but the photos with vandals is from BBC website. I know I should have given credits but I was lazy. Let me correct that.

  • Madiha,

    According to the eyewitnesses, they were not people from the crown. They were wearing black and they had covered their faces. They came equipped with petrol and phosphorus and it was planned arson. If it had been a mob, they would have burned down a bus or two. It was a preplanned terrorist activity.

  • I was just speaking with my mom back home (trapped indoors because of the strike tomorrow) and she said the same thing…that they were just too prepared and organized. I really hope the tapes and images, and tracing where the arson chemicals were obtained would make it possible to catch them.

    Not sure if the calls for strike help any…

  • Speechless!

  • Who needs outside interference in Pakistan when its own citizens are quite capable and idiotic enough to destroy it themselves!

  • There are no words to describe the heart break and bewilderment we all feel at what has happened and goes on happening in our city…the term “cancer of society” gets new meaning.

  • I am with you and all concerned Pakistanis on this issue…It is indeed frustrating to see the footage of planned vandalism and to attempt to make sense of it.

    Your call for action is logical..I hope the power-that-be are listening.


    For flmaing the tika boti… at eid.. it took 1 hour to flame the wood/ angheteee/ coal, but how come it is possible to flame all the building in minutes. Definitly it was pre-planned.

    Everyone is doing politics on the blood & money of innocent plp.

    Political parties are highly involved.

    Why a re-known minister belongs to a re-known political party (who own 150 shops at bolton market) sold all of his shop just a month before..

    Has he been alarmed, just a month back, however these shops were 40 years old.

    Politics is highly involved.

    Just watch a video after the blast..

    Those who lost lives, cannot be recovered, this lost cannot be filled, its really tragic for their family for whole life, but those whose shops has been burnt, must be recovered. and Govt should help them all.

    These businessman were getting threatened from last 2 years to shift the shop. They don’t know that in this manner it will be done.

    Allah bless us all.

  • You know what I’m at a loss for words for? Who these people were. Why the hell does no one have an explanation beyond ‘India ka haath’ for these ‘namaloom afraad’? After BB’s death we could attribute it to the PPP, but what now? Who the hell are these people? A political party? Doesn’t make sense, it’s too fantastic. Taliban? A lot of people seem to think they were simply goons hired by RAW or some other foreign agency…I don’t know, I don’t know. Does anyone have any possible answers?

  • Indian official’s analysis of the causes..B.Raman ex-RAW chief.

    Sectarian clashes between Shias and Sunnis occur frequently in the Northern Areas consisting of Gilgit and Baltistan, where the Shias constitute the largest single sectarian group. To counter the growing influence of Shia sectarian organizations such as the Tehrik-e-Jaffria Pakistan and its militant wing called the Sipah Mohammad, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) had over the years encouraged and helped Sunni extremist organizations such as the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan and the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ) to set up a presence in the Gilgit area. This has led to periodic clashes between the two communities.

    3. The POK itself, where the Shias are in a very small minority, was till now relatively free of anti-Shia incidents. The attack on a Shia procession in Muzzafarabad has, therefore, comes as a surprise. One possible reason could be the anger of the Sunni organizations of the POK over the recent decision of the Government of President Asif Ali Zardari to upgrade the political status of the Northern Areas in order to make it a de facto separate province without giving it the de jure status of a separate province. This amounted to a rejection of the long-standing demand of the Sunni leaders and political organizations of the POK to merge the Northern Areas with the POK. The Shias were strongly opposed to it. It is quite likely that the attack on the Muhurrum procession at Muzzafarabad was in retaliation for this decision of the Zardari Govt to virtually recognize the separate status of the Kashmiri Shias in Pakistan.

    Sectarian Terrorism in Pakistan During 2009 – International Terrorism Monitor — Paper No. 599

  • I thought and worried about you when I saw this. I’m glad you’re safe.

    Whatever the rights and wrongs of any situation, there’s no excuse for the idiots we saw filmed throwing stones and burning objects at ambulances.

    Keep safe.

  • a timely blog; my heart weeps for the city and yes the love is unconditional; the fact that there are no sunni-shia riots speaks of change ; in the last 10 minues, the taliban have been denying an earlier claim of responsibility; may the good lord protect this city and its inhabitants

  • I feel for you, my friend, and for the lovely city you call home. These people, who destroy things are evil- no matter where they be what guise they take.

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  • Great post. I love the city unconditionally and even though now I live miles away (US), my heart still weeps for the suffering. May Allah protect our beloved city

  • Awesome Tazeen… Can’t say more. Made me empathise with how a lot of Pakistanis feel about their country.

    And your comment on my last post has to be the sweetest comment I’ve ever received… Tks

  • and how fortunate i m that my dad escaped this… really!

    I have a love hate relationship with this city. because of the people that screw it over and over!

  • Good Show!!

    Enjoyed some of your stuff on the blog.

    Would love to get your feedback on my blog:

  • Hi Tazeen

    You need to make a correction or add a note: It wasn’t a suicide bomber but a remote controled bomb.


  • Hi Tazeen

    You need to make a correction or add a note: It wasn’t a suicide bomber but a remote controled bomb.


  • Dear Tazeen,
    I remember my younger days when Karachi, Bombay(now Mumbai) and Aden used to be called the place when one must go to find fortune and job. Nobody knew Dubai,Sharjah,Kuwait,Abudhabhi etc.That is why i say the JIHADIES who wreck mayhem IN Karachi, Mumbai are all in the PAY OF ARABS who want their Cities to prosper.Not a single terrorist attack in these cities while Karachi and Mumbai bleed. Most of the towers in Dubai,Sharjah are occupied by Indian,Pakistani and even Bangladeshi big Fat Cats who used to stash money in Isle of man and swiss numbered account before.The Arab shiekhs are giving security and peace of mind to subcontinental BIG CATS. lASHKAR jHANGIVI, MQM,SIPHAHI SABHA,LET, ANSHAL ISLAM ETC ETC are all in pay of Arab Shiekhs through their western benefactors. When Danish cartoons were published not a single incident in these cities like Dubai,Sharjha etc but the attack was in Pakistan.Is these Arab Muslims donot have backbone or does Pakistani JIHADIES GET more in Heaven?

  • good post tazeen…took me down memoryville…just a short prayer…i hope peace and tranquility returns…

    digression: the culprits would not be found…

    jub kotwaal e sheh’r hee chor ho…

  • Shit

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