KARACHI: CHALLENGES & OPPORTUNITIES
S.K.ANSARI & SEEMA ANSARI
July 11 - 17, 2011
Karachi is the capital city of the province of Sindh and the largest city of Pakistan. It is situated on the eastern coast of the Arabian Sea and to the northwest of the Indus River.
Karachi, the largest and the most populous city of Pakistan, presents an interesting and colorful combination of the old and new.
Karachi was made the capital of Pakistan after independence. Karachi is the busiest city with great activity in the trade, industry, education and other fields of life. It has gone through a tremendous change and development in various spheres. With enormous rise in the population, several residential colonies have emerged in Karachi accommodating the influx of people from other provinces as well. Due to this reason, Karachi quickly expanded within a short span of time.
Karachi is the center of education and other cultural and social activities. A great number of prestigious educational institutions are functioning here. It is an ultra-modern city, with most modern cinemas, recreational clubs, hotels, and restaurants. There are beautiful beaches at Sandspit, Sommiani and Hawks Bay.
These places are excellent picnic resorts with their tranquil surroundings and provide an atmosphere to rest and relax. The opportunities for yachting, water-skiing and cruising are also available here. The presence of huge and tall buildings has given it a grandeur and majestic appearance.
Karachi has a state-of-the-art international airport where flights from all over the world land and take off. It has thus become the "Gateway to Pakistan". It is a seaport, which is the source of conducting international trade and business. It is considered as commercial and industrial capital of Pakistan. It has played a vital and dominant role in erecting Pakistan's economy on firm basis. Karachi is a cosmopolitan city with people coming from different parts of the world. It has absorbed the charm and beauty of modern and conventional way of life.
The city is spread over 3,527 km2 (1,362 sq mi) in area, almost four times bigger than Hong Kong. It is locally known as the "City of Lights" and "The bride of the cities" for its liveliness, and the "City of the Quaid", having been the birth and burial place of Quaid-e-Azam (Muhammad Ali Jinnah), the founder of Pakistan, who made the city his home after Pakistan's independence.
Karachi enjoys great importance because the Founder of Pakistan, Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah was born here. He received his early education in this great city. The Quaid-i-Azam is buried here. The Quaid's mausoleum is the most important monument in Karachi. It stands in the heart of the city with its splendor combining classical oriental architecture with modern way of designing. His birthplace, the Wazir Mansion, has been preserved as a national archive.
By the time of independence of Pakistan in 1947, Karachi had become a bustling metropolis with beautiful classical and colonial European styled buildings, lining the city's thoroughfares. Karachi was chosen as the capital of Pakistan, which at the time included modern day Bangladesh, a region located more than 1,000 km (620 mi) away, and not physically connected to Pakistan.
In 1947, Karachi was the focus for settlement by Muslim migrants from India, who drastically expanded the city's population and transformed its demographics and economy. In 1958, the capital of Pakistan was moved from Karachi to Rawalpindi and then in 1960, to the newly built Islamabad. This marked the start of a long period of decline in the city, marked by a lack of development.
Karachi had both a municipal corporation and a Karachi Divisional Council in the 1960s, which developed plans for schools, colleges, roads, municipal gardens, and parks. The Karachi Divisional Council had separate working committees for education, roads, and residential societies, development and planning. During the 1960s, Karachi was seen as an economic role model around the world. Many countries sought to emulate Pakistan's economic planning strategy and one of them, South Korea, copied the city's second "Five-Year Plan" and World Financial Centre in Seoul is designed and modeled after Karachi.
Today, Karachi continues to be an important financial and industrial centre and handles most of the overseas trade of Pakistan and the world, mainly the Asian countries. It accounts for a lion's share of the GDP of Pakistan, and a large proportion of the country's white-collar workers.
MODERN PLACES OF KARACHI
The Defense Housing Authority has taken over the Clifton Beach. A stone embankment wall has been built on which people can sit and view the sea; a well paved service lane and parking for cars have been provided; one kilometer stretch steps leading to the beach have been built on which attractive seating arrangements for visitors have been developed; well designed kiosks supplying food and drinks have been placed along the promenade; and in addition, flood lights now light the entire beach. This development is indeed a valuable addition to Karachi's recreational facilities. Thousands of people, old and young, men, women and children, visit it every week and enjoy themselves.
The only food now available along the DHA occupied stretch is at the kiosks set up by the DHA, the Pizza Express outlet which is located in a container on the promenade, and the Walls Ice Cream mobile which is permitted to operate on the beach. The prices of food and drinks from these outlets are unaffordable to poor and lower middle income families.
As a result, the poor no longer frequent the DHA occupied stretch of Clifton Beach. They now visit the beach accessed from the Jahangir Kothari Parade. Unlike the DHA occupied beach, there are no cars parked along this stretch. The people who visit it are visibly more badly dressed, comparatively under nourished, wearing inferior clothes and with children who often do not wear shoes. The difference is startling. However, this stretch of beach is more colorful as there are camels, horses and rehris all beautifully decorated and women too wear reds and oranges and bright blues. There are places at the exit of the beach where there are arrangements for washing your feet and shoes.
The fun land, which had existed in the middle of Bagh Ibne Qasim, had now been shifted at one of the sides of the park to provide a maximum space for children so that they had maximum amusement.
There are six parking spaces to park around 3,000 vehicles in the Bagh Ibne Qasim.
One more splendid park was built up with the name of "Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Park" which is developed in 152 acre of land.
Expensive plants like Bougainvillea and Ficus were imported for the park. A plant of imported Bougainvillea is worth Rs3,000 whereas, in comparison locally available variety of this shrub is drastically cheaper. Bouganvillae is known in the city due to its reputation of large scale availability and inexpensiveness. A plant would cost a buyer only Rs5 if purchased locally.
This Ficus plant is locally available in the range of Rs400 to Rs600. But, the imported Ficus cost the horticulture department thousands of rupees. This is the only and first ever built park in Pakistan which was decorated with imported plants causing the cost of the project to swell drastically. Another plant was also imported grown up Foxtail Palms from the far eastern countries at the rate of Rs10,000 each.
The other imported 24-inch diameter White Champa cost Rs10,000 each. It's locally available substitute Plumeria cost Rs500.
Aside from the flora, lights for the park were also imported which were otherwise easily available in the local market. Furthermore, despite the massive cost of the park, there was no allocation or space given to the setting up of public toilets.
MODERN BUILDING AT CLIFTON BEACH
In the Zone-A, Usmani Park plot, three structures, have been planned for construction by a developer: a five-storey (900,000 sq ft) shopping mall and entertainment complex with hyper-market, cineplex, ice-skating rink, food court, retail shops, gaming arcade, and so on; a 50-storey commercial office tower, and a 50-storey hotel and apartment tower. In keeping with the norm, no thought has been given to the traffic and parking chaos that will be generated, nor of the unbearable load on the utilities - water, electricity and sewerage, etc. Additionally, the view of the sea of all houses along Beach Avenue will be blocked.
In recent years, the protests of citizens about the commercialization of beaches along the Clifton sea-shore and beyond have been mounting, but are totally ignored by the rapaciously greedy DHA and the concerned government authorities.
For a long time, Clifton beach has been the most popular recreation spot for Karachiites and those coming from upcountry. This beach, in continuation with Bagh-e-Ibne Qasim, has been lying undeveloped for decades. It is the only sizeable Karachi beach left over by the land mafia.
Recently I was taken aback to notice that one won't be able to have a view of the sea any more while driving on the double road running parallel to the bank of the sea as two parallel fencing walls have been raised in between. The town planners (KDA) of the good old days had very wisely taken a policy decision that no such structures would be allowed in the area between "Hawa Bandar" (helipad area) and the sea that may impede a clear view of the sea.
The strip of land alongside the coast at Clifton was reserved by KDA planners as elbow room for free and easy movement of crowds and for provision of sitting, relaxing and camping facilities. By constructing walls around these belts, the very purpose of this space has been defeated and thereby adversely affected the beauty and utility of the beach.
JAHANGIR KOTHARI PARADE
There is a very old and firm structure built somewhat in the vicinity of but not nearly so close to the city-side seashore of Karachi (better known as Sea View). This structure that I am talking about has a semi dome, almost elliptical roof, and round pillars that are based out of a raised platform. Made out of Jodhpur stone, this structure shouts out Islamic architecture that was popularized by the Mughals and built mostly by the British. At first sight, it might appear as a mosque, but it's actually a bandstand that was in regular use many, many years ago. There is an octagonal seat in the center of this structure and if you stand upon it, you can see the old pier, or parade, that leads out towards the ocean. This is the Jahangir Kothari Parade, most of which has been 'renovated' to make way for the new park, yet the structure still stands.
There is another building in the same local region, and this was actually built by the British for their own personal use. Funnily enough, this building is located on a road called Shahra-e-Iran (meaning Iran Avenue). The building covers a huge area of prime land in the area of Clifton, and is reputed to have a fully functional pub and club inside. No Pakistani, of course, is allowed to enter unless it's on official business and even if one of us green passport holders do somehow manage to squeeze inside, he or she won't be able to use any of the facilities. This is the British High Commission's office in Clifton, and that's also beside the point.
CHALLENGES FOR ECONOMY OF KARACHI
Karachi is the financial and commercial capital of Pakistan. In line with its status as a major port and the country's largest metropolis, it accounts for a lion's share of Pakistan's revenue.
Karachi's contribution to Pakistan's manufacturing sector amounts to approximately 30 percent. A substantial part of Sindh's gross domestic product (GDP) is attributed to Karachi (the GDP of Sindh as a percentage of Pakistan's total GDP has traditionally hovered around 28-30 per cent). Karachi's GDP is around 20 per cent of the total GDP of Pakistan. A Pricewaterhouse Coopers study released in 2009, which surveyed the 2008 GDP of the top cities in the world, calculated Karachi's GDP (PPP) to be $78 billion (projected to be $193 billion in 2025 at a growth rate of 5.5 per cent). It confirmed Karachi's status as Pakistan's largest economy, well ahead of the next two biggest cities Lahore and Faisalabad, which had a reported GDP (PPP) in 2008 of $40 billion and $14 billion, respectively. Karachi's high GDP is based on its mega-industrial base, with a high dependency on the financial sector. Textiles, cement, steel, heavy machinery, chemicals, food, banking and insurance are the major segments contributing to Karachi's GDP. In February 2007, the World Bank identified Karachi as the most business-friendly city in Pakistan.
Karachi is the nerve center of Pakistan's economy. The economic stagnation caused by political anarchy, ethnic strife and resultant military operation during late 1980s and 90s led to efflux of industry from Karachi. Most of Pakistan's public and private banks are headquartered on Karachi's I. I. Chundrigar Road.
Karachi Stock Exchange is the largest stock exchange in Pakistan, and is considered by many economists to be one of the prime reasons for Pakistan's 8 per cent GDP growth across 2005. A recent report by Credit Suisse on Pakistan's stock market is a testimonial to its strong fundamentals, estimating Pakistan's relative return on equities at 26.7 percent, compared to Asia's 11 percent. Recently, Karachi has seen an expansion of information and communications technology and electronic media and has become the software outsourcing hub of Pakistan. Call centers for foreign companies have been targeted as a significant area of growth, with the government making efforts to reduce taxes by as much as 10 per cent in order to gain foreign investments in the IT sector. Many of Pakistan's independent television and radio stations are based in Karachi, including world-popular AAJ News, Geo TV, KTN, Sindh TV, CNBC Pakistan, TV ONE, ARY Digital, Indus Television Network, Samaa TV and Dawn News, as well as several local stations.
Karachi has several large industrial zones such as Karachi Export Processing Zone, SITE, Korangi, Northern Bypass Industrial Zone, Bin Qasim and North Karachi, located on the fringes of the main city. Its primary areas of industry are textiles, pharmaceuticals, steel, and automobiles. In addition, Karachi has a vibrant cottage industry.
Karachi Expo Centre hosts many regional and international exhibitions. There are many development projects proposed, approved and under construction in Karachi. Among projects of note, Emaar Properties is proposing to invest $43bn (£22.8bn) in Karachi to develop Bundal Island, which is a 12,000 acre (49 km2) island just off the coast of Karachi. The Karachi Port Trust is planning a Rs20 billion, 1,947 feet (593 m) high Port Tower Complex on the Clifton shoreline. It will comprise a hotel, a shopping center, an exhibition center and a revolving restaurant with a viewing gallery offering a panoramic view of the coastline and the city.
As one of the most rapidly growing cities in the world, Karachi faces challenges that are central to many developing metropolises, including traffic congestion, pollution, poverty, and street crime. These problems continue to earn Karachi low rankings in livability comparisons: The Economist ranked Karachi fourth least livable city amongst the 132 cities surveyed and Business Week ranked it 175 out of 215 in livability in 2007, down from 170 in 2006.
CHALLENGES IN ART & CULTURE
Karachi is home to some of Pakistan's important cultural institutions. The National Academy of Performing Arts, located in the newly renovated Hindu Gymkhana, offers a two-year diploma course in performing arts that includes classical music and contemporary theatre. The All Pakistan Music Conference, linked to the 45-year-old similar institution in Lahore, has been holding its Annual Music Festival since its inception in 2004. The Festival is now a well-established feature of the city life of Karachi that is attended by more than 3000 citizens of Karachi as well as people from other cities. The National Arts Council has musical performances and mushaira (poetry recitations). The Kara Film Festival annually showcases independent Pakistani and international films and documentaries.
Karachi is home to many theatre, music and dance performance groups, such as Thespianz Theater, a professional youth-based, non-profit performing arts group, which works non-stop on theater and arts activities in Pakistan
Karachi has many museums that present exhibitions on a regular basis, including the Mohatta Palace and the National Museum of Pakistan. Karachi Expo Centre hosts many regional and international exhibitions.
The everyday lifestyle of Karachi differs substantially from that of other Pakistani cities and towns. The culture of Karachi is characterized by the blending of South Asian, Middle Eastern, Central Asian and Western influences, as well as its status as a major international business centre. After the independence of Pakistan, Karachi received a large number of refugees from all over India, whose influence is now evident in the city's different sub-cultures. Karachi hosts the largest middle class stratum of the country.
Karachi has a rich collection of buildings and structures of varied architectural styles. Many modern high-rise buildings are under construction. The downtown districts of Saddar and Clifton contain a variety of early 20th-century architecture, ranging in style from the neo-classical KPT building to the Sindh High Court Building. During the period of British rule, classical architecture was preferred for monuments of the British Raj. Karachi acquired its first neo-Gothic or Indo-Gothic buildings when Frere Hall, Empress Market and St. Patrick's Cathedral were completed. The Mock Tudor architectural style was introduced in the Karachi Gymkhana and the Boat Club. Neo-Renaissance architecture was popular in the 19th century and was the language for St. Joseph's Convent (1870) and the Sind Club (1883). The classical style made a comeback in the late nineteenth century, as seen in Lady Dufferin Hospital (1898) and the Cantt. Railway Station. While Italianate buildings remained popular, an eclectic blend termed Indo-Saracenic or Anglo-Mughal began to emerge in some locations.
The local mercantile community began acquiring impressive mercantile structures. Zaibunnisa Street in the Saddar area (known as Elphinstone Street in British days) is an example where the mercantile groups adopted the Italianate and Indo-Saracenic style to demonstrate their familiarity with Western culture and their own. The Hindu Gymkhana (1925) and Mohatta Palace are the example of Mughal revival buildings. The Sindh Wildlife Conservation Building, located in Saddar, served as a Freemasonic Lodge until it was taken over by the government.
In recent years, a large number of architecturally distinctive, even eccentric, buildings have sprung up throughout Karachi. Notable examples of contemporary architecture include the Pakistan State Oil Headquarters building and the Karachi Financial Towers.
The city has numerous examples of modern Islamic architecture, including the Aga Khan University hospital, Masjid e Tooba, Faran Mosque, Bait-ul- Mukarram Mosque, and Quaid's Mausoleum. One of the unique cultural elements of Karachi is that the residences, which are two- or three-story townhouses, are built with the front yard protected by a high brick wall. Ibrahim Ismail Chundrigar Road features a range of extremely tall buildings. The most prominent examples include the Habib Bank Plaza, PRC Towers, and the MCB Tower which is the tallest skyscraper in Pakistan.
Many more high-rise buildings are under construction, such as Centre Point near Korangi Industrial Area, IT Tower, Sofitel Tower Karachi and Emerald Tower. The government of Sindh recently approved the construction of two high-density zones, which will host the new city skyline.
RAIL ROAD WITH ITS ACUTE CHALLENGES
Karachi is linked by rail to the rest of the country by Pakistan Railways. The Karachi City Station and Karachi Cantonment Railway Station are the city's two major railway stations. The railway system handles a large amount of freight to and from the Karachi port and provides passenger services to people traveling up country. For the last 30 years, no improvement is made in modification of this transportation although this is essential and the backbone of the country.
A project to transform the existing, but non-operational, Karachi Circular Railway into a modern mass transit system has recently been approved by the government. Japan Bank for International Cooperation was willing to finance USD1.6 billion project. The city government has introduced an initiative to alleviate the transport pains by introducing new CNG buses which are already in operation.
The Jinnah International Airport is located in Karachi. It is the largest and busiest airport of Pakistan. It handles 10 million passengers a year. The airport receives the largest number of foreign airlines, a total of 35 airlines and cargo operators fly to Jinnah International predominantly from the Middle East and Southeast Asia. All of Pakistan's airlines use Karachi as their primary transport hub. The city's old airport terminals are now used for Hajj flights, offices, cargo facilities, and ceremonial visits from heads of state. U.S. Coalition forces used the old terminals for their logistic supply operations as well. The city has two other airstrips, used primarily by the armed forces.
KARACHI SEA PORT WITH POTENTIAL OPPORTUNITY
The Port of Karachi is Pakistan's largest and busiest seaport, handling about 60 per cent of the nation's cargo (25 million tons per annum). It is located between the Karachi towns of Kemari and Saddar, close to the main business district and several industrial areas. The geographic position of the port places it in close proximity to major shipping routes such as the Strait of Hormuz. The administration of the port is carried out by the Karachi Port Trust, which was established in the nineteenth century.
The port comprises a deep natural harbour with an 11 kilometer long approach channel which provides safe navigation for vessels up to 75,000 metric tons deadweight (DWT). The main areas of port activity are two wharves; East Wharf with seventeen vessel berths and West Wharf with thirteen vessel berths. The maximum depth alongside the berths is currently 11.3 meters. The two wharves extend in opposite directions along the upper harbour - the East Wharf northeast from Kemari Island and the West Wharf southwest from Saddar town. The two wharves each include a container terminal:
Karachi International Container Terminal (KICT) was opened in 1996 at West Wharf berths 28-30. It has a handling capacity of 300,000 TEUs per annum and handles container ships up to 11-metre draught. The total quay length is 600 metres divided into two container berths. The terminal is equipped with three Panamax cranes and one post-Panamax crane.
Pakistan International Container Terminal (PICT) began operation in 2002 at East Wharf berths 6-9. It has a handling capacity of 350,000 TEUs per annum and handles container ships up to 11.5 meter draught. The total quay length is 600 metres divided into two container berths. The terminal is equipped with two Panamax cranes.
KICT and PICT have a nearby competitor in the privately operated Al-Hamd International Container Terminal (AICT), which wasopened in 2001 at a site west of the Layari river. AICT is situated next to the Sindh Industrial Trading Estate, the new truck stand at Hawkes Bay Road and close to the RCD Highway, Super Highway and the future Layari Bypass.
There are also three liquid cargo-handling berths (oil piers), two ship repair jetties and a shipyard and engineering facility. The shipyard carries out shipbuilding and repair for both commercial and military customers on a 29-hectare (70 acres) site at the West Wharf. The facilities include a large shipbuilding hall, three shipbuilding berths, two dry-docks and three foundries.
EXPANSION OF KARACHI PORT
The flow of cargo to and from the port is hampered by severe congestion in the harbor with several other maritime facilities located close to the port. Adjacent to the West Wharf is the Karachi Fishing Harbor, which is administered separately from the port and is the base for a fleet of several thousand fishing vessels. The West Wharf also hosts a ship repair facility and shipyard and a naval dockyard at the tip of the wharf, while to the south of the port are the Karachi Naval Base and the Kemari Boat Club.
The Port of Karachi also faces competition from a new private terminal located 5 kilometers to the west.
The Karachi Fishing Harbor has been been built 18 kilometers away at Korangi. The transfer of some naval vessels to the new naval base at Ormara has brought about further reductions in congestion.
We must focus on the specific challenges. Cities will be the source of economic and social innovations in the future global economy.
Cities in emerging market countries are also the main source and catalysts of GDP.