The Voice of Karachi is a US-based advocacy group that is committed to raise global awareness about the plight of the Pakistan’s largest, and the world’s second most populace city, Karachi.
Karachi is Pakistan’s largest city and is the capital of Sindh; it lies on Pakistan’s southern coast, on the Arabian Sea just northwest of the Indus River Delta. Karachi also happens to be Pakistan’s main port-city and its chief economic center. Even though Pakistani authorities have wiped off nearly half of its population in recent census, most independent organizations admit that Karachi has more population than most countries in the world.
At the time of Pakistan’s creation, Karachi was a small coastal town with a population less than one hundred thousand. The partition of India caused millions of Muslims to migrate to Pakistan from India, and the majority of these Urdu-speaking Mohajirs (immigrants) made Karachi their new homeland, though a large number of Mohajirs also settled in other urban areas of Sindh province. These highly educated and skilled Mohajirs soon turned Karachi into a vibrant city with a strong business, economic and industrial base. Mohajirs continue to remain the majority population group in Karachi.
Just a few years after the death of Pakistan’s founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah and the assassination of one of the co-founders Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan, Pakistan’s Punjabi-dominated military started to target Karachi’s economic progress. Pakistan’s founder Mr. Mohammad Ali Jinnah had chosen Karachi as the capital of the new nation, but the first military dictator, General Ayub Khan, shifted capital of Pakistan to Punjab soon after taking over in 1958. More punitive measures against Karachi and Mohajirs followed that included expulsion of hundreds of high ranking Mohajir bureaucrats from civil service. Important government offices were also moved to Punjab, leaving tens of thousands of Mohajirs jobless.
Despite these anti-Karachi and anti-Mohajir policies, Karachi kept progressing, mainly due to its strong privately-owned banks and industries. This sector, too, was targeted in the 1970s when Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the founder of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), became Pakistan’s Prime Minister after the country’s eastern wing seceded and became Bangladesh.
Mr. Bhutto, who was a staunch Sindhi nationalist and abhorred Mohajirs, made both national and Sindh Assembly pass a number of legislations that targeted Mohajirs. For instance, he nationalized all Mohajir-owned banks, educational institutions and industries under the garb of socialism. He also declared his own language Sindh as Sindh Province’s official language at the expense of Urdu language. He then officially imposed a repressive quota system that officially divided Sindh on urban and rural basis. Mohajir-majority cities -Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur- were given a very small percentage in government jobs and admissions in educational institutions whereas minority rural population was given a very generous quota. Mr. Bhutto also ordered the then interior secretary of Sindh to manipulate census figures in Sindh and reduce Karachi’s population by one half in the official figures. This is all now part of Sindh High Court’s official record.
This highly unjust quota system had been imposed for ten years only but has always been extended by every successive civilian and military government.
Despite all these oppressive measures, Karachi remains to be the center of Pakistan’s economy, thanks to Mohajirs. It will not be an overstatement to say that it is the taxes paid by Karachi that run Pakistan and Sindh Province, for it pays nearly 70 percent revenue to Pakistan’s national treasury and around 95 percent to the treasury of Sindh province. Despite Karachi’s massive contribution towards Pakistan’s economy, this magnificent city has been ignored by every successive government in Pakistan, both civilian and military. Due to gerrymandering in electoral boundaries, Karachi has less than half of its deserved share in the national and provincial assemblies. Almost entire Karachi police force is recruited from outside, as citizens of Karachi are not accepted in the police and Pakistani military. It remains the only major cosmopolitan city in the world that is without a central transport system. Sindh’s provincial government, that has been established on fake, manipulated census figures, has deprived Karachi’s elected mayor of even basic powers. The mayor of Karachi, for example, doesn’t even have control over Karachi’s waste management.
The other major cities of Sindh province, Hyderabad, Mirpurkhas, Sukkur, and Nawabshah, don’t fare any better than Karachi and have been similarly neglected because Urdu-speaking Mohajirs form the majority population in these cities.
Pakistan’s Jihad-obsessed powerful military is now attempting to handover Karachi to religious extremists like the Taliban and ISIS by shrinking political space for secular political forces. Religious seminaries preaching narrow interpretation of Islam are growing in Karachi like mushroom and banned extremist outfits are roaming freely under the overt and covert support of Pakistan’s Punjabi-dominated powerful military establishment.
As a systematic government policy, Karachi’s youth are denied government jobs and admissions to state-funded professional educational institutions under one pretext or another. Urban Sindh people are also not accepted in the local police force or in the country’s armed forces. This has resulted in widespread unemployment and poverty in urban Sindh, a situation of which Pakistan’s state-sponsored jihadist groups are taking advantage by luring these desperate youth into their deadly trap. This is a very dangerous situation and needs attention from every peace, human rights and democracy loving country and organization. Please help Mohajirs, Karachi and other centers of urban Sindh by supporting The Voice of Karachi!