Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani
September 4, 2020
City of crises
Karachi, once known as the city of lights, has been in the headlines for some time, due to reports related to target killing, street crime, corruption, garbage, heatwaves etc. The latest challenge for the people of Karachi has emerged in the form of monsoon rains, with urban flooding affecting every part of the city.
The current situation of Karachi is very worrisome for every sensible citizen. It is unfortunate that our new generation is not aware about the bright past of the city. During the 1910s, when electricity was not even popular in American cities, a Hindu mayor Harchand Rai took the initiative to transform Karachi into the ‘city of lights’ by installing a power plant. During his tenure, people across the Subcontinent used to visit Karachi to experience these colourful sights.
In order to transform Karachi into a progressive and modern city, a comprehensive strategic master plan was also designed under the supervision of Harchand Rai. According to historians, at the time the Lyari River flowed right in the centre of the city. Due to this, people living near its banks were in danger. To overcome this challenge, a bund was built on the river at Gandhi Bagh (present-day Karachi Zoo) and thus the course of Lyari river was changed. According to the plan, a huge amount of land for residential purposes was also utilized. This is why the Hindu mayor of Karachi was called the Father of Modern Karachi.
Similarly, Jamshed Mehta, who was honored to be the first elected mayor of Karachi for 12 consecutive years, is known as the Maker of Modern Karachi. Belonging to the Parsi community, he had a passion for serving humanity and his doors remained open for believers of all religions. He played a significant role in transforming Karachi into a developed, modern and clean city of the world. Jamshed Mehta also supported the demand of separating Sindh from Bombay, under Quaid-e-Azam’s fourteen points. At the time of independence, Karachi was declared the capital of Pakistan, and a large number of refugees from all over the Subcontinent started migrating towards Karachi. Jamshed Mehta prepared a comprehensive plan for their resettlement and rehabilitation.
There are also many other personalities who, regardless of religious affiliations, worked hard to turn Karachi into a prosperous city. It is very unfortunate that Karachi is now becoming a city of crisis due to mismanagement, corruption and power politics.
In my view, it is very necessary to learn from our past mistakes. Today, the people of Karachi have forgotten their real heroes. According to the Karmic cycle, sins of past crimes never let a person escape until a sincere apology is offered. Today, we must understand that Karachi is not a city of a single nationality or a specific political party but in fact Karachi is a city of every Pakistani citizen. Karachi is also the economic hub of the country.
Today, the people of Karachi and the leadership of Karachi, whether it is the provincial leadership, the local government or the federal government, must work together to develop a workable strategy for moving Karachi towards development. We must also acknowledge all the great visionary leaders including Harchand Rai and Jamshed Mehta for their all positive contributions.