Tag Archives: Karachi

The Rohingya of Pakistan: Burmi Colony in Karachi

This is an excellent write up from Dawn about the Rohingya community in Karachi. As is well known, more than 400,000 Rohingya have fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh because the Myanmar military is burning Muslim villages and driving people from their land. The UN has described Myanmar’s behaviour as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.  feature of 17 September 2017 in Dawn is most informative about the Rohingya in Pakistan. The west’s great heroine, Aung San Suu Kyi has failed to address the situation at all and there have been calls to strip her of her Nobel peace prize. The picture above is from one of the Rohingya villages recently burned by Buddhist monks and Myanmar military forces. 

Pakistani passports hold no value, at least not to those in power.

“Look at the date of issuance, look at it!” exclaims Mohammad.

“July 31, 1954.”

“And they are still asking us to prove our nationality.”

All of us tut-tut in unison. We are seated outside the Arakan Muslim Primary and Secondary School, about nine of us huddled in a circle as life around us moves ahead as normal. This is Burmi Colony, home to about 55,000 Rohingya Muslims in Karachi. There are other colonies in the area that are also housing the Rohingya but this is arguably the largest.

The Burmi Colony is located on the edge of the Korangi Industrial Area, perhaps the mega-city’s largest industrial zone. Apart from products, Korangi and the adjoining Landhi area produce the largest number of low-wage workers settled in small settlements off the main road running across the two zones. Burmi Colony, like the others, is organised along ethnic lines.

The ongoing strife in Myanmar’s Rakhine State targeting the minority Muslim population has shone a light on Karachi’s own substantial Rohingya population. Who are they and what are they all about? Eos finds out…

There are many in the neighbourhood who claim to have arrived in (West) Pakistan well before the formation of Bangladesh. Most Rohingya often identify themselves to officials as Bengalis because this provides them a chance to claim Pakistan citizenship. It is only the recent events in Myanmar which have made them own up to their identity publicly. An elderly grocer who could barely speak Urdu narrates that he arrived in 1965 as a boy. His son is now father to three. Continue reading

Seventh Karachi Literature Festival

The seventh Karachi Literature Festival (KLF) came to an end on February 7, after three days of fabulous activities of literature, arts, music and dance. It was held at Beach Luxury hotel between 5 and 7 February 2016 under the auspices of Oxford University Press. KLF brought several Pakistani authors and artistes, some dwelling in abroad countries, as well as international authors and writers, at a single platform. It also provided an opportunity to the locals to interact with the notable personalities.

Karachi Vice

Once a sleepy seaside town, Karachi is now one of the largest and most dangerous cities in the world. This long read from the Guardian, explores a city torn apart by killings, extortion and terrorism. As written by Samira Shackle: In the past decade and a half, terror attacks have become just another element of a crime wave in Karachi that is virtually an insurgency. In May, gunmen entered a bus and shot dead 46 Ismaili Shia Muslims; in 2011, 20 militants stormed a naval base; bombings of religious parades are so frequent that on public holidays the city is placed on high alert and mobile phone networks are shut down. When Pakistan gained independence in 1947, Karachi was a cosmopolitan coastal city of 500,000 people, that carried the hopes of this new nation. Sixty years on, it is one of the most violent places in the world. For the 23 million people who live there, crime has become a central part of life, as commonplace as traffic jams and power cuts. In 2013, at least 2,700 people were murdered, more than in any other city in the world. The wealthy have armed guards at their homes; even bakeries in the elite districts have metal detectors and weary security guards sitting outside, rifles slung across their shoulders. The Express Tribune, an English-language newspaper, publishes a crime map every day in its Karachi edition, under such headlines as “Shootings and raids” or “Mishaps and bodies found”. It is not just the high rate of crime that marks Karachi out, but the entanglement Continue reading