Karachi - Pakistan

Population: 6 m
Area code: (+92) 21
Time zone: GMT +5
Currency: Pakistan rupee (PR) = 100 paisa
Climate: sub-tropical, rainfall mainly during summer months. Average temperatures 28-34C/82-94F (Jun), 13-25C/56-77F (Jan)
Quaid-e-Azam International Airport (KHI): 19 km/12 miles.

Like Amsterdam and The Hague, Sydney and Canberra, Rio and Brasilia – and even New York and Washington – Karachi has never quite forgiven Islamabad for existing. The creator of a brand-new administrative capital in 1959 was supposedly a solution to the city’s manifest problem. In fact, it was designed to isolate the national government from the corrupting influence of business. Leaving Islamabad’s tree-lined spaciousness to its armies of bureaucrats and diplomats, Karachi now concentrates on business and pleasure.

View of Karachi city at night

Two hundred years ago, however, mangrove swamps still covered this coastal site northwest of the Indus delta. At the beginning of the 19th century a small township grew up around a fort on a spit of land overlooking the beautiful natural harbor. Expansion came a few years later with the British and was accelerated by the opening of the Suez Canal. By 1850 the boom was well under way. Wide streets, grandiose municipal buildings and spacious cantonments contrasted with the cramped Old City area near the harbor. By the turn of the century, despite its insalubrious location and recurrent epidemics due to inadequate sanitation, Karachi had become one of the largest and best-fitted ports in the world. The city’s merchants prospered as manufacturing industry expanded to include textiles, footwear, metal products, food and beverages as well as traditional handicrafts and cottage industries. Today its financial institutions and stock exchange also handle the lion’s share of the country’s business.

Karachi is always busy - Pakistan

Karachi ad always attracted migrants from far and wide. Since independence its melting-pot community has absorbed Afghans, Bangladeshis, Pathans from the Northwest Frontier Province, Punjabis, Sindhis, Sri Lankans and, above all, the mohajirs, the Muslim refugees from India. The flood continues unabated, requiring a perpetual massive upgrading of amenities to keep pace with the growth. The wealthier districts of town resemble a vast building site, as trendy housing and office blocks mushroom ever larger and taller to replace those built only a few years ago, whilst the illegal townships housing the poorest immigrants encroach on all sites.

Karachi colorful public transport bus, there is always a space on top

Karachi’s progressive set is fond of deprecating Islamabad’s dull conservatism. It complains that the capital swallows a disproportionate amount of the country’s revenues (most of which are earned by Karachi anyway), and points to the more emancipated role played by women in business and social life in the ‘provincial’ capital of Sind. When it comes to local color, Karachi certainly wins hands down by day with its maze of bazaars and atmospheric restaurants in the old town. The officially restricted nightlife takes refuge behind closed doors and high walls, or concentrates on chats and juices in the hotel lobbies – usually the Bistro at the Pearl-Continental.

Template by - Abdul Munir - 2008