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Karachi the engine of growth but has poor infrastructure and management

Published on 8th June, Edition 23, 2015

 

Karachi is the financial capital of Pakistan with most businesses, banks, various companies in the financial sector calling Karachi home. Being the business hub for Pakistan, it is estimated that at least 50,000 people a month travel to Karachi from various small towns and cities seeking jobs. Karachi is also the epic centre for various construction activities both commercial and residential. Karachi accounts for 54 per cent of the total revenue generated by FBR. Karachi also contributes 56 per cent to GDP. Textiles, cement, steel, heavy machinery, chemicals, food, banking and insurance are the major industrial sectors contributing to Karachi’s GDP.

I. I. Chundigar Road is considered equivalent to Wall Street of Pakistan with the Central Bank, Karachi Stock Exchange and most head offices of banks and various financial institutions. According to Bloomberg, Karachi Stock Exchange is ranked third in 2014 globally and is considered among top 10 markets in the world. International magazine “Business Week” declared KSE as one of the Best Performing Markets of the world. Similarly, the US newspaper “USA Today” termed Karachi Stock Exchange as one of the best performing bourses in the world.

Industrial hubs include S.I.T.E Area, Korangi Industrial Area, North Nazimabad Industrial Area, Landhi Industrial Area, Federal B Industrial Area, North Karachi Industrial Area, Karachi Export Processing Zone, Pakistan Textile City, West Warf Industrial Area and Super Highway.

Most manufacturing and trading concerns have their head offices located at PIDC or Shara-e-Faisal. With growth in business and various opportunities, most IT companies have their offices in Karachi. It is estimated that with Pakistan’s IT industry size at US dollar 80 million, almost $60 million is generated from Karachi. Television and advertising companies further add strength to the economy. With respect to Ports, the Port of Karachi and Port Qasim are considered to connect Pakistan’s shipping with the world. Jinnah International Airport receives more than 27 airlines. Karachi is the largest fishery in Pakistan. Further Bath Island and Bhit Island are considered as the key finishing spots of Karachi. Karachi has vibrant shopping with a number of malls across the city. There are thousands of restaurants selling all kinds of food.

Model for others

With all of the development, Karachi should have been a model for other cities to follow, unfortunately things are quite the opposite. Ideally no one except for the armed forces should carry weapons. One of the reasons for rampant crime in Pakistan, especially in Karachi is endless supply of weapons used to the fullest by the drug mafia and terrorists. There are no concrete figures as to how many guns are owned by individuals in Pakistan. Additionally with corruption and dishonestly deep rooted in the system, those involved in crime either carry fake licenses, no licenses and have multiple weaponry at their disposal. The government has even made an effort to disarm the nation. With crime on the rise, people who have never held a weapon at home have now started keeping weapons as a basic safety tool for self and family. Despite the fact that the government announced measures to control crime by giving Rangers the right to shoot and kill, it is uncertain how fruitful these efforts will be. It is also estimated that of all the criminals caught with weapons and highlighted on media, most are released with external pressure. Karachi was recently ranked the most dangerous city in the world to live in by the Foreign Policy magazine.

 

The value of life

Those involved in crime are well connected and carry out all activities with confidence they are above the law. It is often said that if a dollar value needs to be put on the life of a person living in Karachi, the value will be equivalent to the value of the cell phone he is carrying. Therefore, if a person is asked to handover the cell phone and they refuse, argument ends with the person being shot at point blank range. In order to protect themselves, people have taken extreme measures for their own security.

Homes in more affluent areas are protected with security guards, motion sensors and CCTV cameras. Some have installed dark sheets on the windows of the car to avoid being seen. Those who are rich and can afford an extra expense; bullet proof glass is installed on their cars. Some carry their security guards along wherever they travel.

There was a report on BBC that Sweden is closing its jails since the crime rate has become so low that keeping empty jails does not make financial sense to the government. In Switzerland, the native Swiss carry pride if they own a gun. It is estimated most of the households in Switzerland have guns, however, the crime rate is lowest in the world. Pakistan needs to create an environment where mind does not deviate in crime. This can be accomplished through job creation, controlling of inflation, improvement in minimum wage so that people are deterred from crime and choose the right path.

Development measures

Corruption can be mitigated through leadership who can clean up the system. Unfortunately, corruption is so deep routed that those involved only do so for an incremental income. No matter which government organization is picked, there are elements of corruption which need to be resolved.

No development expenditure is done in Karachi at the back of corruption. Poor road and infrastructure has created problems for many. Outage of electricity, water and sewerage management is of paramount importance. It is also said that honestly and integrity of the police can resolve the law and order situation of the city, unfortunately the leadership and political interference, once again on the rise due to vested interests and personal gains which has left the city in doldrums. Leaving international cities aside, if Karachi could only follow the development and city management of Lahore and Islamabad, improvement will likely change the outlook of the city. What holds the city back is words put into action along with the sense of reasonability by the government to make the city at par with those where they normally go for vacations.

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