Social justice essential for peace in Karachi: conference told

KARACHI: Speakers at the second day of the I Am Karachi Peace Conference on Sunday underlined the need for a continuous dialogue among all communities residing in Karachi and demanded the state to provide social justice including social security to all the citizens to ensure peace.

The conference titled “Exploring Peace and Reconciliation Alternatives” was organized by Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) at a local hotel, came out with a set of recommendations from the youth, who were divided into four groups to prepare their recommendations.

The main recommendations was provision of the rights to the citizens followed by framing out of inclusive policies to provide opportunities to all citizens to take benefit from the state services. A need for an effective citizens watch dog to ensure provision of basic facilities and root out corrupted was another demand of youth.

Earlier at a panel discussion, Asif Farrukhi, fiction writer, critic and translator, Associate Professor and Director, Arzu Centre for Vernacular Languages and Humanities, Habib University regretted that Karachi’s relation were not developed with its surrounding, instead its relations were still established with other cities, which were not located in Pakistan. “You can find Charminar in Karachi, which is originally located in Hyderabad in India.,” he said adding that you can find Delhi and Hyderabadi or Gujarati  food areas  in Karachi, but there is no place to have Sindhi food.

Similarly, no academic or intellectual linkages are available with local people. It is only sentimental relationship with Indian writer and intellectuals.

Senior journalist Ghazi Salahuddin said libraries have vanished from the city therefore the intellectual discourse is absent from the city.

He said that cities are magnates of ambitious people, where people from other parts of the country come to fulfil their dreams. Karachi is similar to other big cities, but it is a unique city in South Asia where after the independence a large number of people came from other parts of India. Karachi is the unique city in the South Asia where the indigenous population was rooted out because of influx of population from other parts of India.

Lahore city interacts with its environment, it has organic relations with other cities of the surrounding, but this is not happening in Karachi as there is no such relationship in Karachi with other cities of Karachi. “Karachi is an isolated city, which has failed to keep its older identity. “

Dr. Jaffar Ahmed, Director Pakistan Study Centre, University of Karachi said the spaces for sports, entertainment and a dialogue are not available for youth.

Sabeen Mehmood, Founder Director of T2F said that she established an organization called Peace Niche in 2007, which established its first project “The Second Floor (T2F)” to provide a space for intellectual discourse. The main idea was to set up an alternative place, where no membership was required.

In her candid speech, she said she had established it from her own resources.  “People ask me to open more, I cannot because resource are not available for such projects.

Aijaz Mangi, writer and columnist and former Secretary of Sindhi Adabi Board said there is a need that we encourage our youth to be involved in literature, poetry and music because these attack on the division of the basis of class.

He mentioned that in Sindh the Sufi poets fought with the extreme kind of fundamentalism through a single string of a musical instrument called “Danboora.” Sindh’s culture has deep rooted influence of Sufi culture. It was a non-violent, love and a must movement.

Hasil Murad of Shaheed Benazir University Lyari said Cheel Chowk in Lyari has become a symbol of fear and terror. A campaign has been launched against Lyari. It is not Lyari which has left the city, but it Karachi which has left Lyari.

Root cause of Lyari’s problem is gang war. Interaction among youth should continue to provide a softer image of Lyari.

Ms. Nida Kirmani, a researcher, who has conducted a research on Lyari and its people said Lyari has been ignored by the state institutions. People of Lyari were fond of sports and education, but gang war has destroyed the cultural sphere of the area. She said she was optimistic and can see a lot of hope among people of Lyari.

Karamat Ali, Executive Director of PILER said we have to look at how to make Karachi an inclusive city. Media can be convinced to make their programmes inclusive and create an atmosphere of peace.

“We should demand to restore playgrounds in the city, which are encroached by the influential people of political parties.” He suggested to chalk out a  plan to promote the sports activities in the city. Football has been a famous sport of Lyari and measures be taken to restore it. Integration of different communities is essential. There is need to convince political parties to deliberately integrate various communities.

Karamat Ali said the Red Indian making process initiated in any city of Pakistan was Karachi, where the local people especially from Lyari were made Red Indians. He said earlier, G. M. Syed had tried to encourage people from other parts of India to settle in Karachi.

“Hashim Raza and Kazim Raza from Lacknow were brought by G. M. Syed here to join public services in 1940,” he said adding that much before independence G. M. Syed had asked Biharis to come and settle in Karachi. But unfortunately, the city has faced a number of problems after independence.

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