Karachi is a city. A city is made up of humans. Karachi is human. A human filled with passion, desire, hope, drive and courage. Yet Karachi is in constant chaos. It is slowly seeping into chronic depression. Each sunrise brings with itself a new set of horror stories. Karachi, the city of lights, is now synonymous with danger, extortions, target killings and so on. With each passing day, Karachi suffers deeply. The city is undergoing all this turmoil and; needs to be hugged tightly, not pushed away. Karachi needs compassion.
The Oxford dictionary, describes compassion as a ‘sympathetic feeling and concern for the sufferings and misfortunes of others’. But compassion is so much more. To be compassionate is to be courageous, empathetic, forgiving, humble and filled with gratitude. It is to be patient and loving. It is to understand that everyone is equally important in the grander scheme of things and needs to be treated the same way.
Karachi needs to stop labeling. Karachi is not Shia, Sunni, Pathan, Muhajir, Sindhi, rich, poor and so on. Karachi needs to learn to live with diversity. It needs to accept everyone as humans and not differentiate between who is more pious or who is whiter or who is richer. It needs to recognize all as equal individuals and not have labels divided and arranged in a pyramid with some on top for being better than the rest. Karachi needs to be humble.
Karachi is one city. The difference between this side of the bridge and that side of the bridge should not exist. If in one city there is a Lyari which is a ‘no zone’ and there is Defense which is ‘the zone’ than Karachi needs to reevaluate its humanity. It needs to work hard to make Lyari and Defense the same and that does not happen by just painting Lyari or building a shopping mall in it. It happens by invoking empathy into the people who make Karachi. It happens by making the child and adult from ‘the zone’ understand that no one from the ‘no zone’ is beneath them or less than them in any matter. It happens by making ‘the zone’ join hands with ‘no zone’ and work together to mobilize the ‘no zone’ into ‘the zone’. Karachi needs to be empathetic.
Karachi is stuck in a vicious cycle of violence and revenge. It is stuck in the past where someone was harmed and revenge becomes the word of the day for a week or so, every few months during the year. Tomorrow could be another day for revenge, but it does not have to be. In this cycle of revenge the city will burn and come to a halt. Schools and windows will be shut down, roads and streets will be empty and people will silently huddle around the television waiting to see how much the city will burn this time. Karachi needs to be forgiving.
Karachi is not a city for people anymore. It is a military urban city. Its children are growing up amongst terrorist attacks and target killings. They wonder if school will be on tomorrow; will they reach home safely; will their cell phones work; should they take an alternate safer route. They flip the channel reporting casualties in a blast without batting an eyelash; they have become immune to violence. This needs to be changed. Karachi needs to be more loving.
Karachi with its jam packed roads, its sudden rain, its hot chai (tea) and spicy chaat and its cool evening breeze is bleeding and dying. But there is a chance to save it. The humans of Karachi need to be reminded about compassion. They need to practice it naturally. They need to be grateful and patient. They need to help when they can, however they can, because only then Karachi will survive. And its survival is our survival. After all; Karachi is you. Karachi is me. Karachi is home.