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Things to know

Things to know about Karachi


Karachi is a very diverse city. Being the economic hub of Pakistan, Karachi is populated by people from all over the country. Today, Muhajirs make up a large portion of the population of Karachi followed by Pathans, Punjabis and Sindhis. The term muhajir comes from an Arabic word meaning "migrant". In Pakistan, Muhajir is used mostly for those Urdu-speaking Muslim immigrants who, at the time of partition of British India between the nations of India and Pakistan in 1947, originally came from North India and settled mostly in Sindh, particularly Karachi. Most of these migrants chose to keep alive their original identity.


On the fringe of the Indian Ocean, the city is unarguably Pakistan's diverse melting pot, a mingling of old and new, east and west — a confluence of people from various parts of Pakistan as well from all over the world. With a regular influx of immigrants from rest of Pakistan, the residents who're called "Karachiites" have shown remarkable tolerance towards other cultures, making it a true cultural melting pot and therefore, everyday lifestyle of Karachi differs substantially from that of other cities in Pakistan. Karachi's culture is characterized by the blending of Middle Eastern, Central Asian, South Asian and Western influences, as well as the city's status as a major international business centre. As a whole, there is considerable diversity in culture, and this diversity has produced a unique cultural amalgam of its own type. The city has a cosmopolitan population composed of many ethnolinguistic groups and hosts the largest middle class stratum of the country. The city credits its growth to the mixed populations of economic and political migrants along with refugees from different national, provincial, linguistic and religious origins, who come to the city to settle permanently. Large numbers of non-Muslims live in Karachi compared to other Pakistan cities.

The entrepreneurial spirit and pulsing pace of life is a sharp contrast to much of Pakistan. Stunned by Karachi's diverse demographics, the American political scientist and South Asia expert Stephen P. Cohen once stated that if Karachi's ethnic groups "got along well, it would be an amazingly complex city, a lot like New York." It can be comparable to Asia's other largest city, Mumbai, with whom the city shares many similarities due to fact both having been British colonies in the past. Karachi was built in successive waves of migrations with more than a million new inhabitants pouring in each year, it's not surprising that the stretch marks are showing in one of the largest and most rapidly growing cities in the world. The neighborhoods acquired their character from the communities that settled there first. These neighborhoods are too numerous to list and there is no commonly accepted way to group these neighborhoods into larger districts. But roughly, the city developed from the south to the north.

Karachi also boasts one of the biggest underground music scenes in the country, where traditional musical influences blend with modern, Western style to create a unique brand of fusion music. This style of music has been very popular all across Pakistan and is utilised by most of the nation's up-and-coming musical artists. Many of the nation's emerging musicians have based themselves in Karachi because of excellent employment opportunities in the burgeoning entertainment industry of Karachi. In-fact Karachi has also produced many renowned artists. Many of the nation's fresh musical acts can be found in cafes, restaurants and concerts across Karachi.


The demographics of Karachi are important as most politics in Karachi is driven and influenced by ethnic affiliations. Karachi has been a traditional stronghold Of Jamaat e Islami in late 1970s but in 80s the new Political Power is rises "The MQM". Karachi was a birthplace of the Mahajir Qaumi Movement (now Mutahida Qoumi Moment), generally known as MQM. MQM is a secular political party mainly representing Muhajirs of Sindh. Originally started as an ethnic-based student organisation under the name of All Pakistan Muhajir Student Organization (APMSO) in 1978 by Altaf Hussain in the city's well known university Karachi University where he was a student. Later it renamed Muhajir Qaumi Movement in 1984 and started working as a proper political party to represent the Muhajir community and to protect them who see themselves as the victims of discrimination and inequity. In 1997, MQM replaced the term "Muhajir" in its name with Muttahida (Urdu for "United") thus welcoming all ethnic groups of Pakistan into its folds. MQM in the past and even today often accused for causing terrorism and creating widespread political violence in the city and various crackdown has been launched against the party officials amongst the major ones are Operation Clean-up from 1992 to 1994 during the government of Nawaz Sharif, which is regarded as the bloodiest period in Karachi's history. In 1992, the leader of MQM left the country as a arrest warrant was issued for him and self-imposed exile in London. The party is often labelled as anti-Pakistan and fascist by critics.

Over the years, MQM keep switching forming alliances with ruling parties in federal government of Islamabad in order to remain in power and to establish provincial government in Sindh. Today, MQM is currently the fourth largest political party in Pakistan and holds the most number of seats from Karachi in terms of both provincial and federal level due to which it holds strong mobilizing potential in Karachi as well in some parts of Sindh, having traditionally been the dominant political force in the city. The party have a larger mandate in urban Sindh including Karachi in comparison to Pakistan's second largest party PPP, who to some extent, consider MQM a rival and whose centre of gravity always lies in Sindh as Sindh is considered home province to the party but the stronghold of the party has been significantly reduced in urban areas of Sindh after the emergence and continued popularity of MQM and now majority of PPP's support come from rural areas of Sindh only where it has maintained a large vote bank. PPP has always managed to succeed in gaining power in provincial government of Sindh while on the national front, has remained into power in the federal government for five times since its foundation in 1967 by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who remained the 4th President of Pakistan and later the 9th Prime Minister of Pakistan.

Pakistan - Travel guide