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Karachi: What’s in a picture? - Part IV

Jul 30. 2016
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By Dawn
Asia News Network

4,698 Viewed

A special report by Dawn, a member of Asia News Network.


The first major terror attack in Karachi by extremist outfits took place in2002.

A bus carrying French engineers was targeted, killing many.

 

 

The same year (2002) suicide bombers belonging to an extremist outfit targeted the US Embassy in Karachi near Hotel Marriot.

Dozens of bystanders were killed. The Musharraf regime acknowledged that a new form of terror and violence has struck Pakistan.

 

 

A middle-class couple in Karachi, 2004.

The Musharraf regime greatly liberalised the economy and offered easy loans. The urban middle-classes benefited from this and their ranks grew rapidly.

But just as had happened during the Ayub regime, this time too, an economic boom had a flip side. Apart from giving more consumption powers to the urban middle-classes, it further widened economic disparities as well.

 

 

A vicious storm lashes Karachi in 2006.

The year’s monsoon in the city was extraordinarily harsh, causing severe urban flooding and deaths. The monsoon season in Karachi is normally very mild. But after every five years or so, Karachi receives heavy rains from ‘cloud bursts’.

Weather experts suggest that heavy monsoons in Karachi are not a norm because monsoon rains in the city are ‘mainly due to meteorological accidents’. By this they mean that heavy rains only occur in Karachi due to some unexpected weather conditions in the Arabian Sea or over the Gujarat province in neighbouring India.

The 2006 rains broke various previous records. They were compared to the record rains Karachi had received during the monsoon seasons of 1901,1967, 1976-77 and 1994.

 

 

2007 was particularly violent for Karachi. Terrorist attacks on civilians and security forces by clandestine extremist outfits increased twofold, and clashes between supporters of the Musharraf regime and opponents led to many deaths.

Karachi’s economy, which had enjoyed a brief boom in the early 2000s, had begun to buckle.

For the next many years, crime in the city would rise to unprecedented levels, forcing the military, the federal government (now led by Nawaz Sharif’s centre-right PML-N), and Sindh’s PPP-led provincial regime to initiate an extensive operation against terrorists and criminal gangs.

 

 

Karachi’s Seaview area near the Clifton Beach in 2015. Till the late 1970s, the area was a long stretch of sea, sand and shrubs.

Today, it is one of the most thriving residential, commercial and recreational areas of Karachi.

 

 

Body of a whale washed ashore the Clifton Beach. The hectic building boom along the Clifton Beach has severely polluted the sea waters here.

 

 

Karachi’s largest multiplex cinema, The Nueplex.

Multiplex cinemas mushroomed across the city from the mid-2000s onward. As conventional cinemas went out of fashion, multiplexes have been enjoying the return of middle-class audiences to watch films on the big screen.

 

 

Karachi’s Prince Cinema today. Built in 1977, it was the country’s largest cinema and the first one which had a 70mm screen, and Dolby sound system.

It was also the most expensive. However, decades later, it has been struggling to come to terms with the challenges posed by multiplexes. It survived the crisis of the 1980s when the VCR made sure to keep audiences seated in their homes, and it also survived when a rabid mob of extremists went on a rampage a few years ago and burned down a number of cinemas (Prince, Bambino, Nishat, Capri).

Nishat never reopened. Such cinemas now squarely cater to working-class audiences who can’t afford tickets at multiplexes.

 

 

Karachi (and Pakistan’s) tallest building under-construction.

Called the Icon Tower, it is situated in the New Clifton area of the city (near the famous shrine of Sufi saint, Abdullah Shah Ghazi).

It is going to be 60-stories-high and is expected to be completed by early 2017. So far, the tallest building in Pakistan is Karachi’s MCB Tower on II Chundrigarh Road. Built in the 2000s, it broke the record held by Habib Bank Plaza (also located on the same road). The Habib Bank Plaza (now HBL Plaza) was built in the early 1960s.

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