Q-and-A: Citizens Campaign to Reclaim Karachi

Looks like quite a few questions have sprung up regarding the campaign. I’ll try to answer them here in this post.

Q: Is this campaign the brainchild of KMB authors?
No. T2f director, Sabeen Mahmud, came up with the idea soon after the October 18 bomb blasts. We at KMB are merely a part of the campaign, as are a whole load of other people, because we’re citizens of Karachi.

Q: Why have a campaign at all?
The masses need to be involved in the process of taking control of their own city. This is OUR city. It does not belong to so-called politicians who come to roost here occassionally.

Q: What is the purpose of the campaign?
The purpose is to raise awareness, and hopefully set the ball rolling towards a mass movement to take Karachi back.

The Karachi portrayed on the cover of NewsWeek is NOT our Karachi. That is NOT what 98 percent of it’s awam are about, and this is not the legacy we want to leave behind for our future generations. We need to speak up NOW before the hyperactive two percent takes control of our city and totally ruins it. Karachi needs to be salvaged.

To explain further, I’ll quote from an email that I sent out while the campaign was being planned:

We’re becoming a nation that’s being terrorised, silently. We need to speak out against it. The youth should be doing THIS, instead of sitting and counting how much more money they need to make in order to be able to afford some stupid “luxury” that commercialisation makes them think they need. We need to break the silence.

Eradicate the “fear” that you have — “you’ve got nothing to lose but your chains” (Marx said that). Stand up for yourself, and stop allowing these politicians from taking everyone on a ride. The city belongs to the masses — us, and it’s high time we did something about it. Our young people have to realise that we are the descendents of Sufi Shah Inayat Shaheed, Bhagat Singh, and Hassan Naasir (among others).

Further details available here, here, and in Teeth Maestro’s post.

As for people who tried to allege that this initiative is not or might not be supported by the mainstream media: I’m a journalist, and I’m part of this campaign, so is Beena Sarwar who writes for The News, as well as a number of other very senior journslists.

As Dr Alvi has already mentioned, we will also be organising a protest demonstration outside the Karachi Press Club. Details for this will be available in due time. A “citizens’ charter” is also being prepared, and will be released shortly.

Here’s hoping everyone’s questions have been answered. Feel free to send in more — I’ll add them to this post, and we’ll try our best to answer them.

As stated earlier, irrelevant, off-topic and abusive comments will be slashed / mutilated / killed mercilessly. Follow the rules and keep it civil. ThanQ.

39 Comments so far

  1. Teeth Maestro (unregistered) on October 30th, 2007 @ 4:58 pm

    I think you pointed out a very important correction which I should append to my original post that the credit for the entire campaign goes to Sabeen. A great idea I must say

  2. Adnan Siddiqi (unregistered) on October 30th, 2007 @ 5:45 pm

    Readers Campaign to Reclaim Karachi Metro Blog

    KMB Used to Be Our Blog We are Taking it Back.

    How’s that, Urooj? :-)

  3. SELF (unregistered) on October 30th, 2007 @ 5:51 pm

    So what are your plans? You do a demonstration…what if no one listens? What do you do next? What if authorities hit back? How many of you are willing to go to prison or be target killed? You know how it goes over there.

  4. Bolshevik (unregistered) on October 30th, 2007 @ 6:02 pm

    Self: People listen! The Proletariat listens! The main purpose of this specific campaign (in my opinion) is to make the Intelligensia listen.

    This step (the talk on Nov 1, and the KPC demonstration) will make them realise what’s wrong with the current system. Once they realise THAT, they will automatically go to the next stage, where they’ll ask about what should be done. At THAT stage, we educate them about how the system needs to be changed.

    During all of this, rest assured that the Proletariat (people who have no other means of earning except by selling their labour in the mandi) is ready and militant.

    Plus, KPC k baaher police action kamm hee hota hai, because they know that the media will be all over their posteriors. Hua bhi tou khair hai, we can deal with it. The media is with us. We CAN win this battle.

    I’ll speak about all of this in detail on November 1. Hope you guys will come — we, the people, NEED to sit and discuss this. Honestly, this is NOT the Karachi I want to leave behind for my future generations. Something’s got to give, mate!

  5. muhammed (unregistered) on October 30th, 2007 @ 6:17 pm

    does the campaign have a mailing list or something how can one get on it

  6. Bolshevik (unregistered) on October 30th, 2007 @ 6:23 pm

    Currently all the available information is being updated at the campaign website: http://www.t2f.biz/karachi/

    For discussion and debates we’re using the facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=5903913421&ref=nf

    I’ll speak to Sabeen about setting up a mailing list if possible.

  7. Obi Wan Kenobi (unregistered) on October 30th, 2007 @ 6:56 pm

    Hahahaha, you people are so funny and have so much time in hand and I believe that is a main issue. If people were busy in their own life, they would all be happy. Pink Ribbon/ Black Ribbon / Red Ribbon does not help. And if the Bolshivek is the reporter who is invited to speak then Allah hi malik hay :-)

  8. Silver (unregistered) on October 30th, 2007 @ 7:02 pm

    “This protest is irrelevant to our tea-party”- Journalists

    I have some questions too.. may i ask if i am not under the threat of being deleted… may I

    Firstly, there is some irony here

    Dr. Alvi “idiot” is a personal attack (please stop running away)


    “Eradicate the “fear” that you have — “you’ve got nothing to lose but your chains” (Marx said that). Stand up for yourself, and stop allowing these politicians from taking everyone on a ride.”

    I think the “fearful” comentators will agree with this. However, I hope Dr. Alvi or Sabeen has taken required precautions as they will be directly launching themselves into limelight. Political parties will not be so happy as this is the election year.

    I believe it will be a positive step forward, departure from the tradition of us sitting on our asses watching blood and comments deleted.

    Good Luck meet you at KPC.

  9. Concerned (unregistered) on October 30th, 2007 @ 7:03 pm

    Just out of interest who are these “young women” who report from the front lines?

    This even promises to be a good laugh if nothing else. would be interesting to see novice reporters claiming to be something they know nothing about.

  10. Bolshevik (unregistered) on October 30th, 2007 @ 7:08 pm

    @ Silver: There are times when risks are worth it.

    @ Concerned: That would be me.

  11. Bolshevik (unregistered) on October 30th, 2007 @ 7:22 pm

    @ Concerned: I’m honestly not claiming to be anything at all.

    I was out covering the rally on October 18, and when the bombs went off, I was two vehicles behind BB’s. I was among the people who picked up the injured AryOne World cameraman and put him in a police mobile so he could be taken to a hospital. We knew he’d die, though, because he was in pretty bad shape — and he did. You know what all of that does to a person’s head? It seriously messes with your head for quite some time, that’s what it does. It makes you angry at what’s going on.

    Being “out there among the people,” however, also gives you a fair idea of what the actual situation is.

    Apart from this, I have a fair idea of what the responsibility of the media is supposed to be, versus the “propaganda-mongering” that is usually done.

    I also know a wee bit about politics and the situation in the country, since I report on it (especially the BayaaN Bazoo politics). I’ve been a journo for only a year, but during this time I’ve served on the desk, and have reported full time (I was part of the DT team covering May 12, I covered September 29, and I was part of the team covering October 18). I have also worked as the acting city editor, so I’m not an absolute “novice.” : )

    Apart from my professional duties, I am a member of the Karachi district committee of the Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party (CMKP), and head our women’s wing here, so yes, I know my politics. I know exactly what the risks of such a campaign are.

    What I don’t know, I hope to learn through the discussion on November 1. Please don’t assume stuff just because you see the words “young woman” written there.

  12. Balma (unregistered) on October 30th, 2007 @ 7:31 pm

    Wish you best of luck.

  13. SIlver (unregistered) on October 30th, 2007 @ 7:37 pm

    “Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party (CMKP)”

    COMMIIIII … wait till the americans hear this

  14. Concerned (unregistered) on October 30th, 2007 @ 7:50 pm

    I didnt assume any thing. I remember you as the person who wrote an emotionally charged article in DT the facts for which had been intially distorted by that stupid journalist on AJJ (forgot his name). The actual facts were later confirmed by the management of BR.

    You reported based on emotions, and not facts which is what you should have done. I hope you will keep a cool head on 1 Nov. I will swing by if I am around.

    Dont get me wrong I appreciate the effort but you need more responsible and level headed people on the podium not junior journalists. becaused if you want people to listen to oyu , you need more then emotions, which I am guessing is all you have.

  15. Bolshevik (unregistered) on October 30th, 2007 @ 8:08 pm

    I wrote no such reports. I think you have me confused with Unaiza, who BLOGGED here about something at Aaj TV. The only time I reported about Aaj TV was when the building was attacked on May 12. This is what I’d filed: http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2007/05/13/story_13-5-2007_pg1_4

    The report I’ve cited above is an “eye-witness account,” by the way.

    I *never* write reports based on emotions — my city editor would kick my posterior and throw me out if I did. So yes, you remember wrong. We have a very strict policy about that at Daily Times.

    Do drop by on November 1, though. : )

  16. ALAM (unregistered) on October 30th, 2007 @ 8:17 pm

    >>>Apart from my professional duties, I am a member of the Karachi district committee of the Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party (CMKP),

    Ahhh, that explains all the censoring freak streak in u

    Wake up, this is 21st century, Soviet union is dead, China is capitalist dictatorship, so is Russia.

  17. Bolshevik (unregistered) on October 30th, 2007 @ 8:21 pm

    @ Alam: Please refrain from displaying your ignorance here. : )

  18. Concerned (unregistered) on October 30th, 2007 @ 8:33 pm

    Sorry my fault, it was some one else. yours is a brief eyewitness type thing.

    Too many female reporters on this blog. Question is why?? there is prob a good reason for this.

  19. ALAM (unregistered) on October 30th, 2007 @ 8:35 pm

    Yeah, China is still communist, Russia is ruled by proletariats, and dictatorship by proletariats is actually the ultimate democracy.

    [Personal attack. Portion deleted. ~ Bolshevik]

  20. Bolshevik (unregistered) on October 30th, 2007 @ 8:38 pm

    lol dude, I’m the only female reporter on this blog. : )

  21. silver (unregistered) on October 30th, 2007 @ 8:48 pm

    “Ahhh, that explains all the censoring freak streak in u”

    lolzzz… wow! Thats why I come here, COMMENTS

  22. muhammed (unregistered) on October 30th, 2007 @ 10:32 pm

    does the campaign have a mailing list or something how can one get on it

  23. Adnan Siddiqi (unregistered) on October 30th, 2007 @ 11:02 pm

    Poo, despite of all disagreement with you. I just liked your comment[ don’t attack me on in return]. I think you resolved the core issue very simply in few words. very well said and thanks for educating me and maybe others as well.

    [Koora portion of comment sent where it belonged. ~ Bolshevik]

  24. kinkminos (unregistered) on October 31st, 2007 @ 1:25 am

    First of all let me say that i live in sinny (sorry, i mean sunny) Dubai. Have done for more years than i care to admit. Karachi, though, is my city. i was born there, and spent most of my formative years there. It is the city i call home, even though i have forsaken it for all intents and purposes. It is the city i feel most at home in. It is the city i feel most for. It is the city whose inexorable decline into decrepitude fills me with sadness.

    i have read, up here and elsewhere, mixed reactions to “The Campaign To Reclaim Karachi.” A significant number of people seem to be pessimistic, sceptical and downright contemptuous of it. My own first reaction, i have to admit, was one of cynicism: it felt initially like some kind of armchair-activism. On reflection, cynicism gave way to hope, and then hope to optimism. It struck me that if there was any way to “reclaim” Karachi, here was the seed of a great idea.

    I think the catch-22 we face in Pakistan is that things (in general) have been allowed to get so out of hand, have been deteriorating for so long, that we feel that any attempt to deal with any major issue must be dealt with, by whoever is doing the dealing, quickly, decisively, and with little thought to the possible fallout from quick, decisive action. This is because our frustration at the general (no pun intended) state of affairs has made us impatient, and we have no faith in the ability of organisations (public and private) and leaders to achieve long-term results. And because our collective spiritual corruption has led to a quick-fix mentality.

    Karachi has become an open sewer, underdeveloped and overpopulated. Infrastructure is woefully inadequate. As in the rest of the country, nobody wants to make an effort to do anything if an alternative method is available — vasta, bribery, intimidation. Only, because of the city’s size and the scale of the activity, the problem is on a much larger scale than elsewhere in the country.

    So what do we do?

    Should we rant and rave and curse and damn to hell those whom we hold responsible (rightly or wrongly)?

    Should we arm ourselves to the teeth and threaten, kill, maim them?

    Should we emigrate?

    Should we turn a karvat and go back to sleep?

    Should we pray? Ignore? Commit suicide? Bury our children alive at birth?

    Or should we try to set things right? And if we decide that we want to set things right, should we try to do so quickly and decisively?


    There is too much anger and hatred and frustration. The wounds are too deep. The malaise too advanced.

    In order to heal, and not further exacerbate the illness, we must cure. Cure ourselves. Cure each other. Slowly. Sincerely. Peacefully. We need to start feeling for each other. To start respecting each other. To refuse to be coopted by the forces of darkness. We need to smile at each other. Care for each other. Give and not take. Be generous, not selfish. We need to start thinking about the kind of legacy we want to bestow upon future generations.About how we want to be remembered by our children. Our grandchildren. We need to demand justice. Fair play. Respect. Equal opportunity. The rule of law.

    And if we can do all that, really do all that then maybe, just maybe, we have a sliver of a hope.

    To do all that, i believe, we must take one step at a time. Cos to my mind there is no quick-fix solution to our problems.

  25. HASSAN' (unregistered) on October 31st, 2007 @ 2:19 am

    do u ppl think that u could achieve something ????

  26. ALAM (unregistered) on October 31st, 2007 @ 8:42 am

    >> do u ppl think that u could achieve something ????

    Why do we have to do something to achieve anything? Why does everything has to be mathematical? Why do we have to be ‘banya’ in everything?

  27. Bolshevik (unregistered) on October 31st, 2007 @ 4:19 pm

    @ Alam: *standing ovation* @ the comment above. : )

  28. Concerned (unregistered) on October 31st, 2007 @ 6:07 pm

    I admit Hassan’s question was wrong but the ans by Alam isnt great either. The correct answer would be at least they tried to help, wht did u do today?

  29. KMMP Chairman (unregistered) on October 31st, 2007 @ 6:34 pm

    [Koora comment sent where it belonged. ~ Bolshevik]

  30. KMMP Chairman (unregistered) on October 31st, 2007 @ 6:57 pm

    You could not handle a little criticism..haa

    Well if you only want to see comments from the ppl who agree with your ideas then keep yourself to your own blog. This blog is for Karaciites and the city belongs to all of us as well as this blog..Dont abuse your power of being an author or request to change the name of this blog to be Urooj’s Karachi blog..I know you are going to delete this post as well but I thought I should write this anyway.

    [Moderator’s note: Commentator should learn the difference between “criticism,” “personal attacks,” and “trolling,” etc. His/her/its previous comment was trashed because it was a blatant personal attack against the author of this post.]

  31. KMMP Chairman (unregistered) on October 31st, 2007 @ 7:09 pm


    Let all the bloggers decide if my comments were “personal attack” or if any abusive language was used in that. Lets put the comments back and have people vote (if you believe in democracy). On one hand you are running a campaign to reclaim Karachi from people who is ruining the city. Do we have a right to run campaign to reclaim Karachi Blog?

    If you are not able to handle a small criticism, then how you are expecting all these political powers to listen to you and take your criticism?? [Koora portion of comment junked. Personal attack. ~ Bolshevik]

  32. Bolshevik (unregistered) on October 31st, 2007 @ 7:28 pm

    I have no problem with criticism and discussion. I do, however, have a problem with trolling and personal attacks (abusive or otherwise). Trolling is trolling is trolling — painting them in some other colours will not change the nature of your comments.

    These are the rules of this forum. Live with it.

  33. KMMP Chairman (unregistered) on October 31st, 2007 @ 8:56 pm

    First of all, my comments dont quailfy to be “Trolling” comments.
    “An Internet troll, or simply troll in Internet slang, is someone who intentionally posts controversial or contrary messages in an on-line community such as an on-line discussion forum with the intention of baiting users into an argumentative response”
    Lets put my comments back and let everybody decide.

    “These are the rules of this forum. Live with it.”

    BTW with this attitude, I dont think you can run this campaign successfully and gather more than a dozen people.
    If you want people to come to this blog and comment on them, then you should prepare yourself to handle jokes and criticism

  34. Mufakkir (unregistered) on October 31st, 2007 @ 9:19 pm

    The protest on Press Club. What good shall it do in addition to blocking traffic?

    Again and again I say (not to discourage people but to knock the greater idea in them) that this type of things would not stop. There are powers such as agencies who have to manage the national sovereignty, (powers such as ISI). These powers will do anything whatever they consider right for the integrity of sovereign power. One or two days of economic losses, or lives of 100 or 1000 people don’t really matter (much as we dislike the doctrine of the ultimate unimportance of the individual, it is very much there).

    Holding demonstrations and wearing black ribbons are activities which only waste the time, money and resources that could be spent somewhere else. Why is T2F owner starting it is amazing to me. To me, all our religious & political parties have been wasting our nation by these ‘demonstrations’ since many years. We don’t need another pioneer.

    My question: Who will this demo impress? The poor, underpaid policemen who’ll have to bear you? Or the sweating journalists? Or those poor people who’ll be late to their houses b/c of this demo. For God’s sake people, have some sense. You are going to create the same problems that others do. What’s the difference b/w you and THEM then?

    Still, if people want to go to their ‘narvaan ki talash’, you are so welcome to freedom of expression.

  35. Bolshevik (unregistered) on October 31st, 2007 @ 9:31 pm

    Demonstrations outside the KPC don’t block traffic, bhai!

    As for what you’ve said about “the poor”: I prefer to use Baba Marx’s definition of the Proletariat — people who have no means of earning a living except by selling their mehnat in a mandi. They, my friend, don’t have to be impressed. They’re ready for action. When we (I’m talking about the CMKP here, which has nothing to do with this campaign abhi) go to industrial areas and hold study circles with the mazdoors there, the response we get is: “Theek baat hai, humeiN karna kia hoga iss soorat-e-haal ko tabdeel karney k liyay?”

    When I speak to friends from the middle class about all of this, the response I get is: “Oh go AWAY!” or the other favourite: “Communists tou atheists hotey haiN! Tauba tauba!”

    The bourgeouis response: “Why us?”

    So you see? The Proletariat KNOWS what’s wrong, because all of these issues are what they face daily. They’re ready for a change. The people who need to be “impressed” are the Intelligensia. Lambi debate hai yeh, waisey.

  36. Mufakkir (unregistered) on October 31st, 2007 @ 9:57 pm

    Hai the Intelligentsia holds no good here, because the country is ruled by illiterates, and majority is also illiterate. We still have a long way to go when intelligentsia will be able to stir something up.

    I’m not opposing positive action. I’m already doing many things good, and also encourage whatever good others can do. In my opinion this exercise is a waste of resources. Its not about being fruit-bearing. The seed you’ll plant will obviously bear fruit after lots of time and watering. The question is whether its the real seed we want or not?

  37. Bolshevik (unregistered) on October 31st, 2007 @ 10:08 pm

    “Intelligensia” as per Baba Marx’s definition, not popular parlance.

  38. kinkminos (unregistered) on October 31st, 2007 @ 10:43 pm

    in the struggle to reclaim our destiny from the forces of darkness (is that too melodramatic, or not melodramatic enough?) cynicism is baggage that will prove counter-productive. i say this not merely to make a pithy statement. i’m an inveterate cynic (often to deflect attention from my own ignorance or lack of subject knowledge).

    corruption and greed and expediency make a mockery of what we have been taught and what we’re trying to teach our children. the cynic in me says that, in a country where corruption is undisputably the norm, are not the purveyors of honesty and justice and fair-play the sinners?

    right now it’s a losing battle, if the battle has indeed not been lost already. i recently came across a quote by the late great duke of gonzo, hunter thompson, which kind of sums it up for me:

    “In a nation run by swine, all pigs are upward-mobile and the rest of us are f**k*d until we can put our acts together: Not necessarily to Win, but mainly to keep from Losing Completely.”

    (valhalla I am coming!) (he said, unaware that he was suffering from delusions of heroism)

  39. SELF (unregistered) on November 2nd, 2007 @ 6:10 pm

    Pretty quite this thread…did no one turn up?

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