The Undercities of Karachi
September 7, 2012 3:30 PM   Subscribe

posted by elpapacito at 5:24 PM on September 7, 2012

This is truly fascinating. Thanks for posting.
posted by mollweide at 6:05 PM on September 7, 2012

Thanks, very informative. On a far more superficial level, Karachi was the focus of the most recent episode of UK TV documentary Ross Kemp Extreme World (actor Ross is an expert on violence by dint of having paid a hardman in a soap opera, but actually it's not that bad for what it is).
posted by Abiezer at 6:15 PM on September 7, 2012

Played, not paid, of course.
posted by Abiezer at 6:16 PM on September 7, 2012

...And none of this comes up in any way reflecting a semblance of reality in the public discourse. It's been painful to watch Karachi transform from what was still a beautiful, open, relatively peaceful city in the 80s to this this teeming mass of humanity so thoroughly divided along ethnic and class lines.
posted by legospaceman at 10:13 PM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thanks - very interesting.
posted by sneebler at 7:41 AM on September 8, 2012

So much to say about this piece. Thanks for posting it.

The title of the essay is a little misleading, in that a big portion of it is only very loosely about Karachi. It's a fantastic look at some of the fundamental forces in Pakistani politics.

It is not so much that the Pakistani state has failed, but that it is run by a bunch of powermongers as their personal fief and criminal holding.

This encapsulates so well the bulk of discussions I've had with other Pakistanis about Pakistani politics. This sense that all the establishment politicos are thugs is what is driving a lot of educated Pakistanis to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf, the party of cricketer-turned-philanthropist-turned-politician, Imran Khan. Imran Khan himself is largely seen to be free of the huge degree of personal financial corruption that is ubiquitous among Pakistani politicians. The lower class is more reluctant to turn to the PTI. I'm not entirely clear about why. Breman also makes the point that the frustration with the band of thugs is a force that drives people to the Taliban, as well.
posted by bardophile at 8:09 AM on September 8, 2012

legospaceman: Unfortunately, we (educated, liberal-relative-to-Pakistani-mainstream, middle-/upper-middle class) have so thoroughly ceded the domain of politics to utter crooks, that I have ceased to see a way out. I have a blind kind of faith in the long-term efficacy of liberation education, of the sort that Paolo Freire worked towards, but it seems pretty futile, sometimes.
posted by bardophile at 8:12 AM on September 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

bardophile: yeah, in the end how much can I say when I don't live there any more. Then again, my people are essentially facing genocide at the hands of Baloch separatists as well as the usual islamofascist suspects.

I think this article, written 4 years ago, is a pretty accurate reading of how and why we got to where we are. Arguments from religion are now unassailable.
posted by legospaceman at 2:30 PM on September 8, 2012

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