It has over 15 million residents, making it 3rd most populous city on planet after Shanghai and Mumbai. One may define mega-city in anyway, and Karachi would fit the definition easily. Being a mega-city, it has mega problems!
Being the hub of economic activity and a major population center with a relatively lower cost of living, it is still a major attraction for many of the countrymen living in rural areas for migration.
But there is one sad fact, it hardly ever gets a positive news coverage. For most of people, Karachi is a dangerous place to live. They view it as an threat to their lives, families, properties etc everything.
Recently, I came across 'Broken Windows Theory'. It was proposed by criminologists and has been successfully applied in past for similar problems in other mega cities around the world. Let's first look at what Broken Windows Theory is.
Consider a building with a few broken windows. If the windows are not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Eventually, they may even break into the building, and if it's unoccupied, perhaps become squatters or light fires inside.
Or consider a sidewalk. Some litter accumulates. Soon, more litter accumulates. Eventually, people even start leaving bags of trash from take-out restaurants there or breaking into cars.
Now, if you've ever had the experience of coming out of Jinnah Terminal and then the moment, you get on to Shahra-e-Faisal, it is like a moment of truth. I remember, after having seen coverage of US invasion in Iraq and then into Baghdad, the images I used to watch on tely were pretty similar what you get to see on roads. Everything seems broken, out of shape, out of vogue, as if nobody has bothered about spending money on roads, lights, it is as if walking in a battle-torn city. Of course, I am not feeling good while writing this, but believe me, this is how it feels.
If you're not that lucky, you might have witnessed a couple of incidents with shootings, firings; everyone running around chaotically to save one's life. Its just amazing.
What is most striking is that dynamics of every neighborhood is unique depending on its geography, where it is situated, how large is it, its demography as the kind of people who inhabit it. Since I moved here, every now and then when something happens, for a moment or two, I do give it a thought as how things can be solved. Above all, from where to start!
We've had military operations in Karachi, more than once but to no avail. I believe its time to try something new. De-politicization of metropolis better be looked at as not an option as that gives rise to another problem, victimization.
I think Broken Windows Theory gives us an opportunity to think and look at the problem from a very very different perspective. By taking care of things, which generally mean nothing or hardly carry any value, maybe it'll be fruitful.
My appeal to masses! and civil society leadership is to seriously consider this theory, and start a new 'I love Karachi' campaign with youth actively participating and making it it a better place to live.
It's tough for me to give this post a better closing, but I believe anyone who reads has got the message.