Lahore (Muhammad Yasir) The second day of the 7th Annual International Karachi Conference kicked off with the President of the Karachi Conference Foundation (KCF), Dr. Asma Ibrahim, reiterating KCF’s commitment to promote awareness on Karachi’s development and heritage at the JS Auditorium, Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Karachi, city campus. It was followed by an engaging and poignant keynote by Karachi literary icon Haseena Moin who related the story of her early memories of coming to Karachi after independence, saying that and this city no longer seem related at all.
The first conference session titled The Future of Karachi’s Heritage featured presentations by Director KMC Land Archives Project Fareed Ahmed, conservationist Dr. Kaleemullah Lashari and Dr. Abdul Rehman who presented the Archives of Karachi present in the Library of Congress in Washington DC which is one of the largest library in the world. Panelists Danish Zuby from SHEHRI NGO, Professor Dr. Anila Naeem from NED University and session chair Arif Hasan engaged the speakers on their papers about Karachi’s archives, heritage and history. It was a lively session with enthusiastic audience participation during the Q&A.
The highlight of the session was the closing address by urban planner and Karachi expert Arif Hasan who said, “heritage is more than buildings”. He said that when the state did not provide facilities like public transport, low income housing, water supply, etc., Karachiites provided it for themselves. The solutions which Karachiites have per force provided for themselves, like kachi abadis and encroachments, cannot simply be swept away – planners need to regard the organic and haphazard existence of Karachi with “love and affection”, to modify the existing city, not to demolish it to make way for half-baked new ideas or luxury settlements for the wealthy. He further stated that city planning has to be about ordinary people. “I do not believe in beautification projects which are of no use to the public,” he added.
The other sessions on the second day of the conference include; The Future of Karachi’s Development, The Politics of Displacement & Resettlement, Karachi’s Book Cultures. The conference will conclude with a screening of Karachi-based critically acclaimed film Laal Kabootar at 5:00 pm on Sunday, November 3, 2019.