When Karachi Bleeds, Pakistan’s Economy Bleeds

08.22.2013 | Emad Sohail


The former capital of Pakistan, Karachi, has an ethnically and religiously diverse population of more than more than 22 million, making it the 8th largest city in the world and the number one city for business in the country. But the city has a serious problem with law and order.

Historically a small fishing village, Karachi has now turned into Pakistan’s biggest commerce and industrial center, home to the headquarters of all major banks public and private along with major foreign multinational corporations, the Karachi Stock Exchange (the largest stock exchange in Pakistan), international trade, an Expo Center, the largest port, the central bank, and major infrastructural and socio-economic projects, all of which have transformed this city into the well-developed financial capital of the country.

In February 2007, the World Bank identified Karachi as the most business-friendly city in Pakistan. Karachi accounts for the lion’s share of GDP and revenue, generating over 65 percent of the total national revenue and producing about 42 percent of value added to large scale manufacturing and 25 percent of the GDP of Pakistan. Pakistan’s informal sector (especially based in Karachi), comprised of thousands of small-scale entrepreneurs ranging from street vendors to restaurants to electricians, plumbers, and even doctors and lawyers, has also made great contributions to the economy which don’t always show up in the official numbers.

However, the economic engine of Pakistan is also one of its most dangerous cities. Curiosity Aroused rated Karachi on No. 8 on a list of the 10 Most Dangerous Cities in the world in 2013. According to the statistics released by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, 1,726 people were killed in the first six months of 2013. The business community, which is suffering a lot in Karachi, is very much concerned about deteriorating law and order situation and wants political and ethnic serenity in which Karachi’s business prevails. Karachi’s traders and businessmen are forced to pay extortion money to several extortionist groups in the city. For Karachi, 2013 will be a record year of extortion demands.

The government is still finding ways “to discuss and evolve a national strategy to curb militancy and address the overall law and order and security situation in the country”. The federal government has assured the Sindh provincial government that it will provide whatever resources are required to restore peace and improve the law and order situation in Karachi. The Supreme Court is closely reviewing the progress causing lawlessness in Karachi.

According to Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies:

“Karachi was the worst-affected region of Pakistan when it comes to casualties caused by terrorist attacks in the month of March, 2013.”

I was the victim of street crime and I do know exactly how a 7.62 mm pistol feels on the head. Every citizen of Pakistan has a “right to information,” as Article 19-A of the constitution of Pakistan gives you this RIGHT to INFORMATION! Hence, my letter to the editor of one of the top English-language newspapers of Pakistan, The News International, published on August 1, 2013. I wanted to draw the government’s attention (with the hope that the concerned authorities will pursue) to how it hurts the economy when such incidents occur on regular basis.

Peace in Karachi is considered crucial for Pakistan’s economic growth and prosperity. Considering the current circumstances of the financial capital of Pakistan, economic issues and their resolution are a major challenge for the current government.  These disruptions in the revenue engine (Karachi) of Pakistan will continue to bring serious economic difficulties for the country. There is dire need to stop these disruptions, so as to put the economy back on track and ensure sustainable growth for the entire nation.

“Sindh is a sensitive province and conditions in Karachi, which is a mini-Pakistan, have an impact on the entire country.”  — Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, the Interior Minister

However, when Karachi bleeds, Pakistan’s economy bleeds!