William Dalrymple in Karachi

Author of White Mughal and the newer Last Mughal , Wiliam Dalrymple is to speak at 7.30 pm tonight in PC. It’s supposedly by invite only, but, this being Pakistan, you can always wangle a seat.

Here’s how Mr. Dalrymple described Karachi in the New York Review of Books in 2003:

Karachi is the saddest of cities. It is a South Asian Beirut: a city on the sea, rich and almost glamorous in parts; but also a monument to hatred among different sectarian and ethnic groups, and to the failure of a civic society. It is a city at war as much with itself as with the outside world. The most populous metropolis in Pakistan, Karachi is a profoundly troubled place, intermittently engulfed in terrible bouts of killing and kidnapping. It is a city where the police sit huddled in sandbag emplacements for their own safety, and where the foreign consulates now resemble great fortified Crusader castles–which is how the people of Karachi look on them: the unwelcome, embattled bridgeheads of alien powers.

You can also read an exchange between Dalrymple and Bernard-Heri Levy by clicking here.

17 Comments so far

  1. yo yo (unregistered) on November 6th, 2006 @ 4:54 pm

    And what Qualifies Mr Wiliam Dalrymple to call our city SAD?

  2. Imran (unregistered) on November 6th, 2006 @ 6:05 pm

    Well some of the points by Mr. Dalrymple are true.

  3. Adnan Siddiqi (unregistered) on November 6th, 2006 @ 6:59 pm

    why with Beirut? why not with NYC or some other city of US?

  4. Ahmed (unregistered) on November 6th, 2006 @ 7:38 pm

    …because beirut is the Paris of Middle East

  5. MB (unregistered) on November 6th, 2006 @ 7:47 pm

    The author is not far from truth. Would love to read everything before giving a final comment.

  6. Concerned (unregistered) on November 6th, 2006 @ 8:46 pm

    this is bull shit. Its people like him who give Karachi a bad name. Someone should kick his SAD ass.

  7. Faraz (unregistered) on November 6th, 2006 @ 10:38 pm

    He might and is probably not right on a lot of things but SADLY that is the opinion people have of Karachi in general. And since he writes for an established journal, people listen. In order to change the image, no matter what the ground reality, Pakistan supporters who don’t have to be of Pakistan origin are needed in key media positions that are widely read.

    It’s compared to Beirut because it used to be a lively city until years of civil war tore it apart at the seams.

  8. De (unregistered) on November 7th, 2006 @ 1:46 am

    Well, i do hope that the author mentioned somewhere that its someone else’s War that is resulting in boom and bang in this city.
    Its just a bit ironic to see people describing karachi in this manner without mentioning that at this juncture in history, it might just be paying the price for the ‘security’ of people from far away places.
    The description by the author also says a lot about the manner in which some nations let their ‘allies’ rot after their purpose is served.

  9. ELIDOG THE 3RD (unregistered) on November 7th, 2006 @ 8:30 am

    If anyone went to the event do send along a summary of what he talked about. I like Dalrymple’s work, having read White Moghuls and City of Djinns…however, find him quite anti-Pakistan in interviews…He certainly is a gifted writer though. Thanks for the post CY, good to see someone actually talking about events relevant to Karachi. There are quite a few of us who are absolutely sick of Unaiza’s posts. She needs to find her own space on the web. Sticking your finger up your a$$ and asking the audience to smell it doesn’t really qualify as “blogging”.

  10. fAr stAr (unregistered) on November 7th, 2006 @ 9:38 am

    thats the problem…even being a major partner in the war against terrorism and helping the coalition force so much in wiping off terrorists even handing over some, we still don’t get the respect and respite we should get as a nation. we r still considered as terrorists and ppl who create mess. and over the years the image of karachi has been created as a breading place of terror. some crunch time bombing also made the case worse, like the one near the bus of newzealand’s cricket team.

  11. Cy (unregistered) on November 7th, 2006 @ 10:51 am

    A round-up of the evening in The Daily Times:


    It wasn’t a book launch; more like a book reading. An excellent speaker with some interesting evidence of religious co-existence. The book seems worth a read.

  12. ash (unregistered) on November 7th, 2006 @ 11:24 am

    Far star you have a good point about us being misrepresented. Internationally speaking Waziristan is the only image of Pakistan that gets any play.
    To be fair though darylmple probably said ‘sad” because of the violence and poverty here which is hard to argue.
    There is absolutely no other way in which this can be called a sad city.

  13. fAr stAr (unregistered) on November 7th, 2006 @ 4:01 pm

    another problem is the fact that this city is mini-Pakistan. ppl from all over the country comes here for all the differnet reasons. they doesn’t consider this city as there own n hence doesn’t care one bit about it. hatred among different sectarian and ethnic groups is just coz of this fact.

  14. mansoor (unregistered) on November 7th, 2006 @ 7:05 pm

    hhmm.. what the author describes, sounds to me like what karachi was during the 90’s. Back then, it was truly sad, but i think we’ve come a long way from them.

  15. Adnan Siddiqi (unregistered) on November 7th, 2006 @ 10:25 pm

    but i think we’ve come a long way from them.

    Illusive thoughts.

  16. Arsalaan Haleem (unregistered) on November 8th, 2006 @ 10:22 am

    Cy, you are giving out wrong info. WD was in Islamabad, yesterday, and not in Karachi – Source, Dawn, 8th Nov 2006.

    Please reconfirm your source of info. before dishing out here in KMB.

    And that goes for all bloggers.

  17. Cy (unregistered) on November 8th, 2006 @ 3:18 pm

    Arsalaan: Please read the posts carefully before making pronouncements.

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