Another kind of capital

I’ve noticed that a number of interactors here on KMB are often in favour of the privatisation and development of state assets, arguing that the government’s priorities are correct. I often check the IP of the optimists and the majority of them are expats, and it got me thinking: perhaps the reason for their optimism is that don’t live here on a long-term basis. $43 billion, Buddo, Bandal, underpasses, roads, skyscrapers, etc. all seem to attract much admiration, but don’t elicit much enthusiasm from those who actually live here. I remember the KPT underpass being touted as a good thing, but anyone who has to navigate the side lanes can’t muster the same enthusiasm. Today, I noticed that the earth barrier at the top of the ramp – a makeshift rainy weather measure – has been tarred and is apparently the permanent solution to drainage issues. Then at work, feeling lethargic, I decided to cross the road to get myself a sandwich instead of sending someone else, but regretted it all the way – the smoke, dust and pollution were suffocating in the breeze-less outdoors. And this at a cross-section where enormously wealthy and powerful people drive through all the time. I came back and was scouring the net over lunch when I came across the statistic of 30,000 hold ups in one year. And when I see all of this I realise the obvious: our problems aren’t investment related, they’re governance related. You can pour in billions, nay trillions, but if people’s rights aren’t protected, they will be ignored. If you ever want to understand just why all the money in the world makes not a good city – visit IIC when it rains. Our stock exchange is worth three trillion rupees, the banks headquartered on IIC have hundreds of billions of rupees between them, the local business houses sit on their pile of cash – but when it rains, the man on a donkey cart is probably better off than those in their shiny, newly leased cars.

37 Comments so far

  1. Slaman Haider (unregistered) on December 11th, 2006 @ 5:24 pm

    Althogh this is not related to the topic but can some one please guide me that where is “Qak Wood Appartment” located in Karachi, I have some information that its in PECHS block 6 but not the excat location of the appartment,its very urgent and important so if any one has some idea than please guide me.Sorry for writting some thing that is not related to the topic.

  2. Ahmed (unregistered) on December 11th, 2006 @ 5:29 pm

    I am one of those expat optimist/enthusiast. Been away from Pakistan for 15 years living in Chicago and San Francisco and now in Geneva, Switzerland for a few months. I think this enthusiasm you speak of comes from the eternal hope that we hold for a better Pakistan and so any progress in that direction means a lot to us NRP’s.

    I wish and hope to move back to Pakistan in a few years and so every small step mean a huge leap to us.

  3. mansoor (unregistered) on December 11th, 2006 @ 6:09 pm

    HOLIII!! 30k hold-ups!!!

    no wonder fear is a daily ingredient of life here :S

  4. Arsalaan Haleem (unregistered) on December 11th, 2006 @ 7:47 pm

    Cy: Very aptly put – agree with you, 110 percent.

  5. MB (unregistered) on December 11th, 2006 @ 8:24 pm

    CY I am so glad you put this one forward dear.
    I had in mind similar topic but from a different angle. Still you have so impressively summarized one of the main/ top most issues behind this cities lacking to come parallel to big cities. I will have my thoughts about the post later on, in detail. Excellent post I must say.

  6. d0ct0r (unregistered) on December 12th, 2006 @ 1:08 am

    i also had a gut feeling that majority of the optimist lot were expats and simply had no clue about the ground realities .

  7. SWA (unregistered) on December 12th, 2006 @ 2:58 am

    Cy, I agree with you 100% here.

  8. zs (unregistered) on December 12th, 2006 @ 5:06 am

    This post is obviously related to the earlier “Beaten and homeless” post about the twin islands project off the coast of Karachi, and the response of some supporting the projects so enthusiastically that they think it’s ok to kick people out of their homes “for the good of the country”, and all the “brings foreign investment” spin attached to such schemes. We need to start respecting each individuals (be they servants, fishermen, beggers etc) rights to a peaceful life, free education and health-care. and invest in human capital, not grand / expensive projects that increase the glitz and glamour of the city but provide no relief for the poor. most people conveniently expect the poor to understand why they are being kicked out of their homes (in the name of whatever grand project like the 2 islands or Kalabagh), but shy away from stating what they’re willing to give up for the betterment of the country.

  9. adeelz (unregistered) on December 12th, 2006 @ 7:34 am

    I agree with you that we lack honest and sincere government. However, private infrastructural investment is not privitization of the government. These types of projects provide jobs to hundreds of people. It is only after people are well-fed that they can afford the luxury of education. And it is only through the education of the masses that we can find our way out of this mess.

  10. Salman Haider (unregistered) on December 12th, 2006 @ 9:04 am

    Althogh this is not related to the topic but can some one please guide me that where is “Qak Wood Appartment” located in Karachi, I have some information that its in PECHS block 6 but not the excat location of the appartment,its very urgent and important so if any one has some idea than please guide me.Sorry for writting some thing that is not related to the topic.

  11. Ronin1770 (unregistered) on December 12th, 2006 @ 10:11 am

    30,000 Hold ups – i believe number would be quite higher than that as most of the people don’t register FIRs

    30 K hold ups ….. nah – double that

  12. Kashif (unregistered) on December 12th, 2006 @ 10:18 am

    Our main problem is that we, as a nation, are insincere with our country. We are trying to make a fortune for ourselves on expense of our home. Everybody, including those who are in the government, is in a rat-race of get rich or die trying. Since last 58 years the system is same, only faces change.

  13. MB (unregistered) on December 12th, 2006 @ 10:42 am

    @ADEELZ :
    “These types of projects provide jobs to hundreds of people. ”

    So you mean to say its okay to kick out few hundred people to provide jobs to other few hundred?.
    I guess you cannot kick out even one man for this purpose in our religion and nor in humanity if that person has the right on a land that he and his fore fathers developed with their hard work and blood. If you can provide them alternate means, with their consent, fine else it’s just a crime against humanity.

  14. Inspirex (unregistered) on December 12th, 2006 @ 10:50 am

    I believe that the people kicked out, did not have any legal right or claim to the property there. It was a katchi abadi, most of which are now being regularised by the government, thereby giving people a right to property ownership.

    These people should have been compensated by giving them cash or an alternative property in the city.

  15. ash (unregistered) on December 12th, 2006 @ 11:41 am

    Dear mb,

    i think we are all upset about those people being tortured. But the law of any land does not favour squatters. And adeelz is right about this potentially helping the economy which will trickle down to those same people who will now squat somewhere else. There are two valid points of view on this i think.

  16. Ali Mohsin (unregistered) on December 12th, 2006 @ 12:45 pm

    All agreed and all’s right in the post!….But dont you think its high time that all of us get down and really do something…….Even if all of us who gather at KMB decides to step a little further than mere highlighting the drawbacks and issues ….and achieve something concrete.. iguess this platform will serve its purpose….

    Some might argue that blogs aren’t for this purpose, but no harm if like-minded people get their acts together to achieve something credible………So MY JOURNALISTS FIRENDS (MB,Cy & others), ANY IDEAS SO THIS KMB COMMUNITY CAN SIT AND ACHIEVE SOMETHING FOR THIS CITY? for its poor masses, for city’s tidiness and for all the things we think is wrong with this city! Lets contribute positively and constructively.

  17. Faisal (unregistered) on December 12th, 2006 @ 1:16 pm

    On of the important reason behind these mega projects of Government is “easy and safe illegal money”. Lots of foreign companies bid for such projects and the project is eventualy given to the firm that is giving the most amount of commision to our “gov’t officials/ ministers”. The commision they give is mostly based on verbal negociations or aggrement and there is no documented proof of it related to the project. This money easily goes in the pocket of the gov’t officials/ministers and project is sanctioned to the corresponding multinational firm. These firms intelligently make up for this money (commision) by adding it in their project bid. This is a sorry state of affairs but its the main driving engine behind these mega projects we see.

  18. turab (unregistered) on December 12th, 2006 @ 3:01 pm

    All I see is rant rant and more whinning. Lets US for once appreciate the good things that are coming to karachi!! If anyone even tries to do something good, the ranters will scare them away and only look at the whole og the doughnut rather than the doughnut itself…

    Highlighting problems and issues is one thing but to go one and whine and bitch about the good things is the height and a true Pakistani Spirit!!

  19. turab (unregistered) on December 12th, 2006 @ 3:04 pm

    Oh about the underpass! thats how they are built at least there is no traffic jam at that intersection due to its design , what do you expect at an intersection?? some sort of green PARK or space?? welcome to the city which is in dire need of freeways and expressways… which are not always more beautiful looking but they get the job done of moving the traffic…

  20. SS (unregistered) on December 12th, 2006 @ 3:09 pm

    Faisal is close to the actual facts of the projects that has a verbal go ahead. In fact what goes behind this is the fact that the black money of some investors comes this way legalized it by investing in such “projects” sell the same to local buyers and take the investment out with hudge margin of profit and turning their black money into white.
    No wonder why the Chief Minister of Sindh is agitating to such projects because in such process he is not getting his share of the pie because the signal to the ivestor comes from the Federation and the provincial government has no say on such matters. Once he is given his due share, he will keep quite and will not talk on behalf of the poor masses of that area. I hope I am wrong in this assumption.
    “Rat race” is the right word some one said earlier.

  21. d0ct0r (unregistered) on December 12th, 2006 @ 6:46 pm

    breaking news of bomb blast in karachi is being telecasted on tv channels(geo/ary/Aaj) but can’t seem to find any thing about it online… not even or which site is good for breaking news…

  22. d0ct0r (unregistered) on December 12th, 2006 @ 8:58 pm
  23. Razi (unregistered) on December 13th, 2006 @ 12:00 am

    While I agree with most that has been written I don’t think its fair to put the blame for every ill on the government(s).

    I strongly believe that good governance begins with oneself. It is the individual which initiates the change and the difference. You can’t blame the government for the filth that the individual tosses out his house onto the street….nor can you blame them for the cold heartedness the individual has when he sees a man lying on the road as a result of a hit and run (while he drives away)….nor can we blame them for the fact that while exiting a posh restaurant after consuming a Rs.2000 meal we see a bunch of hungry kids outside its door but we don’t do anything about it.

    The moment we start thinking about the rights of others and what consequences our individual actions have on others….things will begin to change….including governments and their policies.

  24. turab (unregistered) on December 13th, 2006 @ 2:12 am

    just a correction that it was not a bomb blast but rather a gas cylinder explosion. Nonetheless precious 4 lives were lost. Inallilah e Wailahay Rageoon.

  25. mark (unregistered) on December 13th, 2006 @ 5:30 am

    EEEEExcellent posts, you give keep me up to date with Karachi.
    Best regards

  26. Sahar (unregistered) on December 13th, 2006 @ 6:28 am

    EXCELLENT post. Thanks, Cy. I always enjoy your posts. Privatization and the rise of corporate power may be the biggest threat to Pakistan’s future. We are selling our country, folks. It no longer belongs to the people – it belongs to the corporate bullies who have NO concern for the common good, and who can NEVER be held accountable to us. At least governments have the *potential* for accountability.

  27. turab (unregistered) on December 13th, 2006 @ 7:32 am

    West has progressed on the rise of cooperations, what is wrong with having pvt coorporations in Pakistan? Why stop at there? Please criticize at the right issues but not blindly at everything!!

  28. Faisal (unregistered) on December 13th, 2006 @ 7:44 am

    Just for the sake of clarity, allow me to point out that the comment above by “Faisal”
    is not by me. I’m the Faisal who has a thing for finding English language mistakes. Just thought I’d point that out….perhaps I’d better change my name on here……

  29. Original-Anon (unregistered) on December 13th, 2006 @ 7:48 am

    @ Faisal: You said ‘perhaps I’d better change my name on here……’.
    May I suggest ‘Original-Faisal’? :)

  30. ash (unregistered) on December 13th, 2006 @ 9:19 am

    “no longer belongs to the people?” i am not completely sure i understand. Since as far back as history goes this country (and every other country) has never belonged to “the people” unless those people were communist.
    So we can live in our inherited unfair society with less money or we can have a new kind of unfairness which is actually still much better than the old one which will lead to more money.

  31. Cy (unregistered) on December 13th, 2006 @ 9:44 am

    Faisal-English: I spotted a pet peeve in your post – the misuse of an ellipsis (“…”). There’s only three dots, unless it’s the end of a sentence when there are four. :) Cheers.

  32. Faisal (unregistered) on December 13th, 2006 @ 12:20 pm


    That name did cross my mind. Consider it a compliment in the sense that imitation is the
    greatest form of flattery.


    Thank you very much for pointing out the mistake
    about the ellipsis. Trust me, I understand how you feel about pet peeves. A couple of mine are the incorrect usage of “there” and “their” and “then” and “than”. Honestly, it has been a long time since I’ve even thought about the word “ellipsis”. But then again, even though my major at university was English Literature with a writing emphasis, I don’t write professionaly for a living. Moreover, university days were almost eighteen years ago.

  33. Original-Faisal (unregistered) on December 13th, 2006 @ 12:22 pm

    Oops, I forgot to change my name.

  34. Original-Anon (unregistered) on December 13th, 2006 @ 5:25 pm

    @Original-Faisal : Love your new name:) I certainly am honored.
    @Cy: I have been wanting to ask you to do a post on the peculiar words used in Karachi that I see on this blog. Words such as ‘burger’ (used for people, I’m just not sure what kind of people). Another word is ‘auntie’, it always seems to be used in a derisive sense. I’m sure I will think of other words but would you enlighten people such as me as to what all these words really mean?

  35. Cy (unregistered) on December 15th, 2006 @ 1:57 am

    Original-Anon: The etymology of Paki slang isn’t my strongest area – perhaps some of the other authors could explain.

  36. ash (unregistered) on December 15th, 2006 @ 11:34 am

    heheheheh….how does anyone not know this?
    burgers – westernized “pseudo’s” generally clifton/defence
    auntie – what you call every women much older than you. Often a meddlesome talkative person Can be used for someone a little younger if she is out of touch, mentally last generation etc

  37. Concerned (unregistered) on December 17th, 2006 @ 4:34 am


    Just wanted to comment on the holdup bit. I just came to Karachi for 3 weeks and went around the entire city. I mean everywhere except orangi and adjoining areas.

    I didnot get held up once and didnt even see anything which would scare me. I know its only a small example but I think the hype about the hold ups is a bit too much. Its not tht bad.

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