The mess that is Karachi.


THIS is a horror story. A global pandemic rages outside. The newspapers are emblazoned with death counts, with reports of the suffering, of ever-dwindling resources at hospitals trying to tend to patients. Then there is the heat, rising up to 41 degrees Centigrade, making life and living in the open as arduous as can possibly be.

Even if nothing else were happening, these are difficult days in Pakistan including Karachi. Suppose after making peace with all these challenges posed by the pandemic and the power outages and heat and the water shortage, the administration of the city of Karachi decides to impose even more hardships. Take the example of residents living near the Tipu Sultan Road area in Karachi. The off-road known as Modern Housing Society has long been a subject of neglect. At the corner, facing main Tipu Sultan Road, a plot of empty unclaimed land has been routinely permitted to devolve into a rubbish dump. The lack of zoning and planning to accommodate the burgeoning commercial establishments on main Tipu Sultan Road (where an open drain runs through the median) have only made life worse and worse and still worse.

And yet, as the residents of Modern Housing Society discovered last week, it was possible that things could get even worse. In the middle of summer, during a global pandemic and with all sorts of other uncertainties looming, they would face even more. Early last week, a truck of employees of the Karachi Municipal Corporation landed on the road. Under the pretext of installing a new sewer pipe, they broke the pavements that had been built by local residents; they uprooted trees and they demolished half of the road. Sewage that was in the line was permitted to seep onto the road and was left there.

Can a man or woman standing in sewage ask questions? No, absolutely not, and KMC knows this.

Then, the next day, digging was resumed and the electricity lines supplying one side of the street suffered damage. That entire side of the street lost power. It is terrible enough to suffer the constant tortures of the power outages imposed by K-Electric, as they push one into the constant anticipation of when they're going to end; it is even worse to endure those that have no end at all. This would be the case of this particular power outage, delivered courtesy of KMC, which threw up its hands and said it was not their fault. Of course, it is never ever their fault.

The third day, the entire street resembled a war zone, in which...

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