Postcard from... Karachi


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The Independent Online

Lyari has the dubious honour of being the most dangerous area in Karachi, itself one of the world's most dangerous cities. Home to around 1.7 million people, it is beset by poverty, drugs, and gang warfare.

In Karachi, around 10 to 15 people die every day in targeted killings, a substantial proportion of which take place in Lyari.

So perhaps it should have been no surprise that my trip there involved an armoured, bullet proof car, and a whole truck full of police escorts. As we arrived at our destination, the policemen were visibly jumpy: in certain areas of Lyari, they face a high risk of being attacked.

I spoke to a group of teenage boys, clad in westernised clothes – tight, unbuttoned shirts, baggy jeans, and chunky jewellery, a striking contrast to the salwar kameez worn by their elders. Yet while they may have been influenced by the gangster aesthetic, these were no criminals. Muhammed, who first introduced himself as a "bodybuilder", is studying a degree-level course while also working in a water sanitation plant to make ends meet. Owais, whose head is half-shaved, made macho noises about doing "nothing", but later revealed he works in an office. As with any other "no-go" area, anywhere in the world, most people in Lyari are simply trying to live.

Sadly, before our discussion was finished, the police escorts bundled me into a car, having received intelligence that something was about to break out nearby. We drove away in the armoured car. For the residents of Lyari, however, life must go on.