Karachi is the capital of the province of Sindh, and the most populated city in Pakistan. Located on the coast of the Arabian Sea, north-west of the Indus River Delta, the megacity is the financial and commercial centre as well as the largest port of the country. The metropolitan area along with its suburbs comprises the world's fourth most populated city, spread over 3,530 square kilometers. The city credits its growth to the mixed populations of economic and political migrants and refugees from different national, provincial, linguistic and religious origins who have largely come to settle here permanently. It is locally termed as the City of Lights for its liveliness and the City of The Quaid, for not only being both the birth and death place of Muhammad Ali Jinnah the founder of Pakistan but also his home after 1947. Residents and those born in the city are called "Karachiites".
The Baloch tribes from Balochistan and Makran established a small settlement of fishing communities, many of whom still inhabit sections of Sindh, and called it Kolachi. The modern port-city of Karachi, however, was developed by authorities of the British Raj in the 19th century. Upon the independence of Pakistan in 1947, the city was selected to become the national capital, and was settled by Muslim refugees from India, which radically expanded the city's population and transformed the demographics and economy. Karachi has faced major infrastructural and socio-economic challenges, but modern industries and businesses have developed in the city, and the population expanded even after the capital was moved to Islamabad in August 1960.
The area of Karachi has been known to the ancient Greeks by many names: Krokola, the place where Alexander the Great camped to prepare a fleet for Babylonia after his campaign in the Indus valley; 'Morontobara' port (probably the modern Manora Island near the Karachi harbour), from where Alexander's admiral Nearchus sailed for back home; and Barbarikon, a sea port of the Indo-Greek Bactrian kingdom. It was also known as the port of Debal to the Arabs, from where Muhammad bin Qasim led his conquering force into South Asia in 712 AD. According to the British historian Eliot, parts of city of Karachi and the island of Manora constituted the city of Debal.
The present city started its life as a fishing settlement where a Sindhi (Baloch) fisherwoman by the name of Mai Kolachi took up residence and started a family. The village that later grew out of this settlement was known as Kolachi-jo-Goth (The Village of Kolachi in Sindhi). By the late 1700s this village started trading across the sea with Muscat and the Persian Gulf region which led to its gaining importance. A small fort was constructed for its protection, armed with cannons imported from Muscat. The fort had two main gateways: one facing the sea, known as Khara Darwaaza (Brackish Gate) and the other facing the adjoining Lyari river known as the Meetha Darwaaza (Sweet Gate). The location of these gates corresponds to the present-day city localities of Khaaradar (Khara Dar) and Meethadar respectively.
In 1795, the village became a domain of the Balochi Talpur rulers of Sindh. A small factory was opened by the British in September 1799, but was closed down within a year. After sending a couple of exploratory missions to the area, the British East India Company conquered the town on February 3, 1839. The village was later annexed to the British Indian Empire when the province of Sindh was conquered by Charles Napier in 1843. Kolachi was added along with the rest of Sindh to the jurisdiction of the Bombay Presidency.
The British realized its importance as a military cantonment and a port for exporting the produce of the Indus basin, and rapidly developed its harbour for shipping. The foundations of a city municipal government were laid down and infrastructure development was undertaken. New businesses started opening up and the population of the town started rising rapidly. Karachi quickly turned into a city, making true the famous quote by Napier who is known to have said: Would that I could come again to see you in your grandeur!
In 1857, the First Indian War for Independence broke out in the subcontinent and the 21st Native Infantry stationed in Karachi declared allegiance to revolters, joining their cause on September 10, 1857. However, the British were rapidly able to reassert their control over Karachi and defeat the uprising. Karachi was known as Khurachee Scinde (i.e. Karachi, Sindh) during the early British colonial rule.
In 1864, the first telegraphic message was sent from India to England when a direct telegraph connection was laid down between Karachi and London. In 1878, the city was connected to the rest of British India by railway line. Public building projects such as the Frere Hall (1865) and the Empress Market (1890) were undertaken. In 1876, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, was born in the city to a famous Ismaili Khoja family, which by now had become a bustling city with railway, churches, mosques, courthouses, markets, paved streets and a magnificent harbour. By 1899 Karachi had become the largest wheat exporting port in the east (Feldman 1970:57). The population of the city had also risen to about 105,000 inhabitants by the end of the 19th century and was a cosmopolitan mix of Hindus and Muslims, European traders, Jews, Parsis, Iranians, Lebanese, and Goan merchants. By the turn of the century, the city faced street congestion, which led to India’s first tramway system being laid down in 1900.
Frere Hall - a prime example of colonial architecture built during the British Raj By 1914, Karachi had become the largest grain exporting port of the British Empire. In 1924, an aerodrome was built and Karachi became the main airport of entry into India. An airship mast was also built in Karachi in 1927 as part of the Imperial Airship Communications scheme, which was later abandoned. In 1936, Sindh was separated from the Bombay Presidency and Karachi was made the capital of the new province. By the time the new country of Pakistan was formed in 1947, Karachi had become a bustling metropolitan city with beautiful classical and colonial European styled buildings lining the city’s thoroughfares. Karachi was chosen as the capital city of Pakistan and accommodated a huge influx of migrants and refugees to the newly formed country. The demographics of the city also changed drastically. However, it still maintained a great cultural diversity as its new inhabitants arrived from all parts of the subcontinent. In 1958, the capital of Pakistan was shifted from Karachi to Rawalpindi and then to Islamabad in 1960. This marked the start of a long period of decline in the city, owing to a lack of governmental attention and development. The 1980s and 1990s saw an influx of refugees from the Afghan war into Karachi. Political tensions between the Mohajir groups (descendants of migrants from the partition era) and other groups also erupted and the city was wracked with political and sectarian violence. Most of these tensions have now simmered down.
Karachi continues to be an important financial and industrial centre for the country and handles most of the overseas trade of Pakistan and the central Asian countries. It accounts for a large portion of the GDP of Pakistan and a large chunk of the country's white collar workers. Karachi's population has continued to grow and is estimated to have passed the 20 million mark, although official figures still show a population of around 14.5 million. The current economic boom in Pakistan has also resulted in a new period of resurgence in the economy of Karachi and a lot of new opportunities have opened up in the city. The city government is also undertaking a massive upgrading of the city’s infrastructure, which promises to again put Karachi into the line-up of one of the world’s greatest metropolitan cities.
Geography and Climate
Karachi is located in the south of Pakistan, on the coast of the Arabian Sea. The city covers an area of approximately 3,530 square kilometers, comprised largely of flat or rolling plains, with hills on the western and northern boundaries of the urban sprawl. Two rivers pass through the city: the River Malir which flows from the east towards the south and centre, and the River Lyari, which flows from north to the south west. The Karachi Harbour is a sheltered bay to the south-west of the city, protected from storms by the Sandspit Beach, the Manora Island and the Oyster Rocks. The Arabian Sea beach lines the southern coastline of Karachi. Dense mangroves and creeks of the Indus delta can be found towards the south east side of the city. Towards the west and the north is Cape Monze, an area marked with projecting sea cliffs and rocky sandstone promontories. Some excellent beaches can also be found in this area.
Located on the coast, Karachi tends to have a relatively mild climate with low levels of average precipitation (approximately 10 inches per annum), the bulk of which occurs during the July-August monsoon season. Winters are mild and the summers are hot, however the proximity to the sea maintains humidity levels at a near-constant high and cool sea breezes relieve the heat of the summer months. Due to high temperatures during the summer (ranging from 30 to 44 degrees Celsius from April to August), the winter months (November to February) are generally considered the best times to visit Karachi. July, December and January have pleasing and cloudy weather when most of the social events, ranging from weddings to charity fundraisers, frequently take place. Tourists and expatriates visit Karachi in these months.
List of mayors of Karachi
Mr. Jamshed Naserwanji (Nov 1933 to Aug 1934)
Mr. Teakum Dass Vadhumull (Aug 30, 1934 to May 03, 1935)
Mr. Qazi Khuda Buksh (May 03, 1935 to May 09, 1936)
Mr. K.B. Aradsher H. Mama (May 09, 1936 to May 04, 1937)
Mr. Durgha Das B. Adwani (May 04, 1937 to May 06, 1938)
Mr. Hatim A. Alvi (May 06, 1938 to May 05, 1939)
Mr. R.K. Sidhwa (May 05, 1939 to May 07, 1940)
Mr. Lalji Malhootra(May 07, 1940 to May 06, 1941)
Mr. Hashim Gazdar (May 06, 1941 to May 08, 1942)
Mr. Soharab K.H. Katrak (May 08, 1942 to May 11, 1943)
Mr. Shambo Nath Molraaj (May 11, 1943 to May 10, 1944)
Mr. Yousaf Abdullah Haroon (May 10, 1944 to May 08, 1945)
Mr. Manual Musqutta (May 08, 1945 to May 01, 1946)
Mr. Wishram Das Dewan Das (May 09, 1946 to May 09, 1947)
Mr. Hakeem Muhammad Ahsan (May 09, 1947 to May 25, 1948)
Mr. Ghulam Ali Alana (May 25, 1948 to May 08, 1948)
Mr. Mahmood A. Haroon (Jan 19, 1954 to May 26, 1955)
Mr. Al-Haj Malik Bagh Ali (May 26, 1955 to May 29, 1956)
Mr. Siddique Wahab (May 29, 1956 to Dec 14, 1956)
Mr. S.M. Taufique (Jun 14, 1958 to Oct 14, 1958)
Mr. Abdul Satter Afghani (Nov 09, 1979 to Nov 07, 1983)
Mr. Abdul Satter Afghani (Nov 07, 1983 to Feb 12, 1987)
Dr. Farooq Sattar (Jan 09, 1988 to Jul 27, 1992)
Mr. Naimatullah Khan (Aug 14, 2001 to May 2005)
Mr. Syed Mustafa Kamal (Oct 17, 2005)
Karachi is the financial capital of Pakistan; it accounts for the lion's share of GDP and revenue. It generates approximately 65% of the total national revenue (federal and provincial taxes, customs and surcharges). On the Gross regional product (GRP) front, Sindh's share almost comprising 28% of the total GDP. Karachi produces about 42 percent of value added in large scale manufacturing. Recently in February 2007, World Bank has termed Karachi the most business-friendly city in Pakistan.
The city’s economy is large and diverse, and, with largest and most dynamic Industrial complex in the country viz Sindh Industrial & Trading Estate ( SITE ), Korangi Industrial & Trade Estate, North Karachi Industrial & Trade Estate etc. Most of Pakistan's public and private banks have their head offices in Karachi. Nearly all of them are located at I.I Chundrigar Road (Pakistan's Wall Street). During the 1960s, Karachi was seen as an economic role model around the developing world, and there was much praise for the way its economy was progressing. Many countries sought to emulate Pakistan's economic planning strategy and one of them, South Korea, copied the city's second "Five-Year Plan,".
Karachi possesses a versatile industry. The economy of the city concentrates on Cement plants, corn mills and shipbuilding, in addition, steel, textiles, chemicals, refined oil, shoes, machines and food are produced in the city. The city gains 60 per cent of the tax receipts of the country and 70 per cent of the taxes of the province Sindh. The Per-head income of the city is about four to five times more highly than in the state average. Karachi is also a location of a nuclear power station & many large banks.
Besides being the banking and finance capital of the country, Karachi also hosts the offices of almost every major foreign multinational corporation as well as corporations based in Pakistan. It is home to the largest stock exchange in Pakistan: the Karachi Stock Exchange, which was considered by many economists to be one of the prime reasons for Pakistan's 8% GDP growth across 2005. The Port of Karachi and nearby Port Qasim are the two main seaports of Pakistan, and Jinnah International Airport is the largest & the busiest airport in Pakistan.
The recent trends involving ICTs (Information & Communications Technology), electronic media and call centres have become a significant part of Karachi's business hierarchy. Call centers for foreign companies have been targeted as a significant area of growth, with the government making efforts to reduce taxes by as much as 80% in order to gain foreign investments in the IT sector.
Karachi is also the software outsourcing hub of Pakistan. Many of Pakistan’s independent television and radio channels are headquartered in Karachi. Geo, ARY, Hum and AAJ TV are the most popular ones; some of the local stations include KTN, Sindh TV, and Kashish TV .
Karachi has a huge industrial base, with several large industrial zones located on the fringes of the main city. The primary areas are textiles, pharmaceuticals, steel, and automobiles. In addition, Karachi has a vibrant cottage industry and there is a rapidly flourishing Free Zone with an annual growth rate of nearly 6.5%. Karachi has an Expo centre which hosts many regional and international exhibitions.
Toyota and Suzuki Motor Company are located in Karachi. Among others, Millat Tractors, Adam Motor Company, HinoPak Buses and Trucks manufacturing plants are also located in Karachi. The automobile manufacturing sector is one of the fastest growing industries in Pakistan, and a large vendor industry associated with it is also located principally in Karachi.
Karachi is home to some of Pakistan's important cultural institutions. The National Academy of Performing Arts, located in the newly renovated Hindu Gymkhana offers a two year diploma course in performing arts that include classical music and contemporary theatre. The All Pakistan Musical Conference, linked to the 45-year old similar institution in Lahore, has been holding its Annual Music Festival since its inception in 2004. The Festival is now a well-established feature of the city life of Karachi that is awaited anxiously and attended by more than 3000 citizens of Karachi as well as people from other cities.
The National Arts Council (Koocha-e-Saqafat) also has musical performances and Mushaira (poetry recitations). Karachi has a few museums including the Mohatta Palace Museum that regularly has exhibitions as well as the National Museum of Pakistan. The Kara Film Festival organized annually showcases independent Pakistani and international films and documentaries.
The everyday lifestyle of Karachi differs substantially from that of other Pakistani towns. The culture of Karachi is characterized by the blending of Middle Eastern, South Asian and Western influences, as well as the status of the city as a major international business centre. As a whole, there is considerable diversity in culture, and this diversity has produced unique cultural amalgam of its own type. Karachi also hosts the largest middle class stratum of the country.
The Muhammad Ali Jinnah International Airport is located in Karachi. It is the largest and busiest airport of the country. It handles 10 million passengers a year. The airport also receives the largest number of foreign airlines, a total of 27 airlines fly to Jinnah International predominantly from the Middle East and South East Asia. All of Pakistan's airlines use Karachi as their Primary hub including Pakistan International Airlines, Aero Asia International, Airblue and Shaheen Air.
The city's old airport terminals are now used for Hajj flights, cargo facilities, and ceremonial visits from heads of state. U.S. Coalition forces used the old terminals for their logistic supply operations as well. The city also has two other airstrips used primarily by the armed forces.
Karachi has the largest shipping ports in Pakistan at the Port of Karachi and Port Qasim. These seaports have modern facilities and not only handle trade for Pakistan, but also serve as ports for Afghanistan and the land-locked Central Asian countries. Plans have been announced for new passenger facilities at Karachi Port.
Port of Karachi and Harbour with some of the city residential areas visible.Karachi is linked by rail to the rest of the country by the Pakistan Railways. The Karachi City Station and Karachi Cantonment Station are the city's two major railway stations. The railway system handles a large amount of freight to and from the Karachi port apart from providing passenger services to people travelling up country. Plans are underway to extend the intra-city railway system to play a part in the city's mass transit through Karachi Circular Railway system. Currently, primarily motorists and minibuses handle commuter traffic, but there are plans to construct a light-rail based mass transit system in the city to decongest the roads and provide quick service to commuters. It is one of the most advanced cit in karachi-faizan.