Articles of the year 2005

The New Slums
Published on July 07th, 2005

Driving around Karachi is an embarrassing experience if you are accompanying a foreigner as almost all of the buildings look like slums. The stretch of Main Clifton road, on both sides looks as if the residents of these buildings cannot afford to get their windows cleaned, or their flats painted, or their gutters repaired. It seems the people on the lower floors and the pedestrians must gamble with not just the danger of traffic, but what the flat dwellers may choose to emit.

The exterior of these buildings is a disgrace, and throughout Karachi, a view of the living habits of the citizens are on display for the passing public by way of the laundry hanging from every balcony. In other countries there is a law forbidding the airing of laundry on the public face of a building. In Pakistan there is no such rule, if there was the residents would'nt care. All the way from the airport down ShahraeFaisal,It seems every day is laundry day. The buildings are certainly not more than five years old but they are in such a state of disrepair that they look like instant slums.

For once KBCA has come up with a plan whereby the owners/builders /residents of all such buildings will have to maintain their buildings to a required standard. It is about time that someone in Govt has taken notice of the situation, hopefully it is not just a money making ploy but will be put to good effect. The owners must be made to realize that the interior of their homes is important to them, but the exterior is important to society of which they are part and they must maintain a minimum standard, for it affects not just the aesthetic sense of the building, but the safety of all concerned.

The buildings along Seaview are case in point. Some of the houses there are very tastefully done up inside. But from the outside it is one slum after another. The residents of Seaview are definitely in the upper income bracket, and the prices of the flats are well above six figures, but to look at the outside of the buildings one would wonder at financial status of the occupants. These buildings show that their owners do not care about their communal responsibilities. Being part of the DHA they must be made aware of their responsibility towards the city. If they are to be provided services such as garbage collection and street cleaners, then they must also look after that which is in their ownership from within and from without. I know of one building on Clifton road where the owners are amongst the very wealthy of Pakistan. The gutters are overflowing (within their compound) the common parts have never been painted,--- in short a slum. The residents are all highly educated with foreign degrees, but when it comes to communal living it seems that education or breeding stops at their front door. I would dearly love for these people to read this article and take another look at the outside of their flats. These same people when in England are meticulous in their behaviour, and make sure that they all the rules of their compound. It is such a pity that instead of applying the same principles in Pakistan, they leave all their learning at the departure gate at Heathrow.

I, for one am delighted at the huge advertising signs that are coming up all over Karachi, for they cover up some of the instant slums. I would much rather see a nice Walls Ice cream cone than the assorted laundries of these citizens. I do wish the KBCA all the luck in trying to enforce their new edict, meanwhile I shall continue gazing at giant Macdonalds, and huge bottles of Nestle water, and ignore that which lies hidden behind .