Karachiwala is beautiful book written by Rumana Husain. It offers a window-view of Karachi and presents us with its social and physical diversity. It vividly elaborates upon the lifestyle, language, values and interests of people of different communities living in beautiful nawabi city. The book reveals how these different communities together create the cosmopolitan character of the city, and give it its vitality and resilience amidst its social disparities and tensions. I recently read its review in Frontline. The reviewer, A.G. Noorani writes “The volume deserves wide readership in India, if only to bring home to us the barbarity of the curbs which the governments of India and Pakistan have imposed to keep apart two peoples, who have a lot to learn from each other.”
With the creation of Pakistan in 1947, Karachi not only became the first capital of the new country, but it also became its economic hub. It was the primary destination for the mass of Muslim immigrants who crossed the border into Pakistan. A massive influx of Muslim migrants from the United Provinces, the Central Provinces, Gujarat, Kathiawar, Delhi and Hyderabad settled in the urban centres of Sindh, especially in Karachi and Hyderabad. Karachi is the only city in Pakistan where you can find Hindus, Christians, Ahmadis, Bahais, Sikhs, Parsis, Pathans, Punjabis and Biharis living in harmony. The presence and contribution of people of different backgrounds makes Karachi arguably Pakistan’s most cosmopolitan city, the only real microcosm of the whole country.
Note: A few days back, 26 people were killed and more than 50 injured in communal violence in Karachi. It hurts. My prayers are with them. The only way we can flourish as a subcontinent is help Pakistan establish peace. Let’s hope and work for the best.