Articles of the year 2005

Waiting for Mahatir
Published on August 20th, 2005

Karachi is still the City of opportunity for Pakistanis from the four corners (read provinces) of the country who arrive here to seek their livelihood. This bustling, pulsating,---- more importantly thriving, metropolis attracts, Pathans, Punjabis Baluch ,and Sindhis into its ever expanding City Limits, with the lure of Jobs and a support system that works in spite of the government. A government whose ineptitude is apparent at all levels. But the City's dynamism belies the Government's sloth. One only has to see the buses full of passengers going to and from their work all day long (they are surely not going from one entertainment spot to the other) to realize that there is a thriving economy that is keeping these people busy. This second economy --- off the Government's books is alive, and well. It is rumoured to be double that of the documented economy, and it's success is probably due to it being out of the bureaucratic clutches. This facet of the Pakistani's ingenuity in going round hurdles, and his hard working ethos is very much part of the success that is Karachi.

Karachi has all the makings of another Hong Kong or Singapore, as the infrastructure is already in place. The Industrial base, all the Banks, the Insurance Cos, the Stock Market—and the Ports. Its all here. A population of 13 Million provides not just a vast pool of labour but also a substantial consumer market for its own production. The ingredients are already in place. The shortage of Power and the Water supply are two items which can so easily be corrected. Yet they seem to take on a magnitude bordering on the impossible, and frighten off would be investors, as the Privatization Commission has discovered, in spite of its best efforts. Power and water lines are already in place, just fine tuning is required.

The most important factor in favour of Karachi is the huge number of businesses that are collected here in one city. Lahore or Faisalabad do not even come close—there only advantage is their proximity to Islamabad, which they access to their benefit continuously. Karachi still manages to thrive, using the huge pool of talent and brains in its city limits. Karachi has a large number of detractors based mainly in the Punjab, who have long considered themselves at a disadvantage, and have used their proximity to the Federal power of Islamabad, to correct this imagined imbalance. Even managing to tip the scales in their favour, or to the detriment of Karachi.