I won’t lie, I hate the narrative that has associated itself with Karachi about its resilience. It has started to grate on my nerves and sounds like nothing but a placating cop-out from the powers that be.
As a person born and raised in Karachi I’m aware of its resilience. As someone who watched dead bodies being wheeled into Civil Hospital after shootings, I’ve witnessed it firsthand.
As a person whose family is considered the largest majority in Karachi, consisting of primarily immigrant family members, I’ve called Karachi home more than many other people who own my city because they found employment here or got married here. I was born here and have roots here . I call it home.
I can’t agree with the narrative that Karachi is resilient. Karachi is helpless. Karachi doesn’t have autonomy. Karachi doesn’t have control. That’s the real narrative.
When we change a lack of policy to an abundance of grit and tenacity, we discount the morbidity and mortality that occurs due to the lack of policy. Karachi is a big city like Tehran, Mumbai, New York City, Toronto and Shanghai. Karachi should be managed as such.
My city’s resilience shouldn’t be the reason why it’s neglected. My city’s resilience shouldn’t be celebrated over dead bodies, electrocution, lost limbs and fallen trees. It shouldn’t be why people gloss over days of loss of power, lack of water and a dearth of basic amenities.
Wall slides occurred during the recent flooding of Karachi because of a thunderstorm and a rainstorm that was clearly predicted. We are talking about predicting Ramadan for the next ten years. And we couldn’t save a huge number of lives by acting on timely weather reports?
Here’s why I object to people finding refuge in our resilience. Our resilience has become the reason why we are neglected. It has become an excuse for non-delivery on promises. It has become my heartache. It has become Karachi’s death.
So what do you suggest we do? What part of us tells you that it’s resilience that keeps us alive and reasonably happy?
For the people of Karachi, resilience isn’t a choice. What the rest of Pakistan calls resilience is a tragedy that Karachi takes on its chin because it has no other way.