Safety in Karachi
Since the late 2000s, Karachi has seen many bombings and attacks as well as political and ethnic tensions, since the city has a conspicuous history of problems with terrorism, violent demonstrations, street crime, kidnappings and other negative effects of Islamic fundamentalism, and has become one of the most crime-infested and troubled cities of the region. Several countries started to order their citizens to register with their consulate to receive contact details during extreme situations. Check with your consulate before you travel, if you are required to register, too.
Street crime in Karachi is about what you'd expect in a huge city. Use common sense and avoid dangerous areas such as slums and suburbs with bad reputation such as Lyari, Orangi town, Malir, New Karachi, and North Karachi where gun crime is getting common, however, there should be no serious danger in the affluent parts of the city. Defence,Nazimabad,Gulshan and Clifton are regarded as the safest neighbourhoods of Karachi and will offer the most "tourist-friendly" experience of Karachi, given that there will be no language barrier (most Pakistanis can speak some English, and many people in these districts will be completely fluent). Most visitors will find there is a large degree of cultural understanding and compatibility between the residents of Karachi and western tourists.
The people of Karachi are very hospitable. They tend to welcome any foreigner very warmly, but regardless of how nice someone seems you should remain aware and alert at all times.
Women are usually stared at in certain parts of the city, so they should bring along a male relative or friend, to be safe. Women should never ever take lifts from strangers and should be careful not to go out alone at night.
In general, in Karachi, if you are ever worried about your safety, make a loud scene. It is an extremely crowded city, and somebody is always around and willing to help. Keep your money and credit cards safe at all times. Always carry some cash as many places won't take cards. Do not display 5,000 rupee notes in public. Also beware of mobile, chain, or bag snatchers.
Police can sometimes be almost as shady as criminals in Karachi. Some police officers may be corrupt and unhelpful, while others are very honest and helpful. Surprisingly, it's fine to offer bribes to a police officer in case you violated a traffic rule but possession of firearm, drugs can lead you into trouble.
Karachi has mostly been spared the attacks that have happened in the rest of the country, but "mostly" is a relative term. You should always keep handy the emergency telephone contact numbers of your country's consulate in Karachi.
Traffic jams are a major hassle in Karachi. Although the city government has recently built dozens of underpasses and flyovers to get rid of the overflow of the traffic, it is a good idea to keep a look for any rallies/protests and check out alternate routes while travelling in the city. Because it is Pakistan's biggest city, it's the area most affected during strikes and you should do your best to keep a low profile during times of political unrest. Avoid any sort of large gatherings, even positive ones, as there's a good chance you'll become the centre of attention and you probably don't want that from a group of raucous chanters.
Try not to drive in Karachi if you are new to the city since drivers are aggressive and undisciplined and traffic is chaotic. Pollution levels (like most other cities in the subcontinent) are high. It's not common to see local people with face masks on, but at the very least you should carry a handkerchief with you to cover your mouth and nose, especially during rickshaw rides.
Pedestrians should be careful while crossing roads as some drivers will neither slow down nor sound a horn to warn of an impending collision. This also applies when getting out of the car on the traffic side; look both ways until you are off the road and don't hesitate to run if you sense a car barrelling towards you. Minibus drivers are particularly notorious.
Never bribe a police officer or a traffic sergeant if they refuse the offer. Never let any bikers get closer to you, even if they ask for directions. They could be muggers, and you could lose you valuables as the crime rate in Karachi is significant, especially in abandoned or dark areas. While driving, beware of chingchis, rickshaws, motorbikes and female drivers as they can literally emerge from anywhere right in front of you, and if any accident happens, you will be blamed because you or your car is deemed to be stronger than they or their vehicle. Even worse, irate crowds gather in such situations.