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History of Karachi

Today Karachi is the largest metropolis of Pakistan and one of the 5 largest cities of the world. Karachi today is the capital of Sindh province which has remained  craddle of the ancient Indus civilization.

Karachi being close to the sea and also close to the delta of the mighty Indus would have definetly been an important post in the ancient times however the modern civilization has burried all the traces of it ancient past.

In 4th century BC when Alexandar can to this area while going back to west he must have stopped in this area and the greeks called it Krokola, and also speak of the port of "Morontobara" which has now been changed to a shorter name as "Manora Island", from here Alexander's admiral Nearchus sailed for back home; the greeks also named it Barbarikon, a sea port of the Indo-Greek Bactrian kingdom.

In the 8th century Karachi would have been a city close to Daibal and was definitely inhabited by the local fishermen. According to a legent the city was named as such by the name of a woman who used to be leader of the people at one time, she was called Mai Kolachi, According to the legend and some weak historical record she and Mai Safooran were sisters of Natir who was a court lady in one of the kings in central Sindh both sisters came and made their villages one was called Kolachi and other Safooran Goth both exist today.

Karachi became an important sea port when the Sindhi rulers started trading with the Arabs in Masqat an other persian gulf states. According to English writers Karachi had a fort for protection.

A sketch of the fort 1830 (From an English Writer's travelogue)

The fort was had a few cannons imported from Muscat. The fort had two main gateways: one facing the sea, known as Khara Dar (Brackish Gate) and the other facing the adjoining Lyari river, known as the Meetha Dar (Sweet Gate). Both the names have become areas of Karachi with same names.

During the rule of the Mughal administrator of Sindh, Mirza Ghazi Beg the city was well fortified against Portuguese colonial incursions in Sindh. During the reign of the Kalhora Dynasty the present city started life as a fishing settlement. The city was an integral part of the Talpur dynasty in 1720.

Talpur Period (1795 - 1839)

In 1795, Kolachi-jo-Goth passed from the control of the Khan of Kalat, Kalat to the Talpur rulers of Sindh. The British, venturing and enterprising in South Asia opened a small factory here in September 1799, but it was closed down within a year because of disputes with the ruling Talpurs. However, this village by the mouth of the Indus river had caught the attention of the British East India Company, who, after sending a couple of exploratory missions to the area, conquered the town on February 3, 1839

Company Rule (1839 - 1858)

After sending a couple of exploratory missions to the area, the British East India Company conquered the town on February 3, 1839. The town was later annexed to the British Indian Empire when Sindh was conquered by Charles James Napier in Battle of Miani on February 17, 1843. Karachi was made the capital of Sindh in the 1840s. On Napier's departure it was added along with the rest of Sindh to the Bombay Presidency, a move that caused considerable resentment among the native Sindhis. The British realised the importance of the city as a military cantonment and as a port for exporting the produce of the Indus River basin, and rapidly developed its harbour for shipping. The foundations of a city municipal government were laid down and infrastructure development was undertaken. New businesses started opening up and the population of the town began rising rapidly.

The arrival of troops of the Kumpany Bahadur in 1839 spawned the foundation of the new section, the military cantonment. The cantonment formed the basis of the 'white' city where the Indians were not allowed free access. The 'white' town was modeled after English industrial parent-cities where work and residential spaces were separated, as were residential from recreational places.

Karachi was divided into two major poles. The 'black' town in the northwest, now enlarged to accommodate the burgeoning Indian mercantile population, comprised the Old Town, Napier Market and Bunder, while the 'white' town in the southeast comprised the Staff lines, Frere Hall, Masonic lodge, Sindh Club, Governor House and the Collectors Kutchery located in the Civil Lines Quarter. Saddar bazaar area and Empress Market were used by the 'white' population, while the Serai Quarter served the needs of the 'black' town.

The village was later annexed to the British Indian Empire when the Sindh was conquered by Charles Napier in 1843. The capital of Sindh was shifted from Hyderabad to Karachi in the 1840s. This led to a turning point in the city's history. In 1847, on Napier's departure the entire Sindh was added to the Bombay Presidency. The post of the governor was abolished and that of the Chief Commissioner in Sindh established.

The British realized its importance as a military cantonment and a port for the produce of the Indus basin, and rapidly developed its harbor for shipping. The foundation of a city municipal committee was laid down by the Commissioner in Sinde, Bartle Frere and infrastructure development was undertaken. Consequently, new businesses started opening up and the population of the town started rising rapidly. Karachi quickly turned into a city, making true the famous quote by Napier who is known to have said: Would that I could come again to see you in your grandeur!

In 1857, the Indian Mutiny broke out in the subcontinent and the 21st Native Infantry stationed in Karachi declared allegiance to rebels, joining their cause on 10 September 1857. Nevertheless, the British were able to quickly reassert control over Karachi and defeat the uprising. Karachi was known as Khurachee Scinde (i.e. Karachi, Sindh) during the early British colonial rule

The British Raj (1858 - 1947)

In 1795, the village became a domain of the Balochi Talpur rulers. A small factory was opened by the British in September 1799, but was closed down within a year. In 1864, the first telegraphic message was sent from India to England when a direct telegraph connection was laid between Karachi and London.[2] In 1878, the city was connected to the rest of British India by rail. Public building projects such as Frere Hall (1865) and the Empress Market (1890) were undertaken. In 1876, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, was born in the city, which by now had become a bustling city with mosques, churches, courthouses, markets, paved streets and a magnificent harbour. By 1899 Karachi had become the largest wheat exporting port in the east.[citation needed] The population of the city was about 105,000 inhabitants by the end of the 19th century, with a cosmopolitan mix of Muslims, Hindus, Europeans, Jews, Parsis, Iranians, Lebanese, and Goans. By around the start of the 20th century, the city faced street congestion, which led to South Asia's first tramway system being laid down in 1900.

The city remained a small fishing village until the British seized control of the offshore and strategically located island of Manora. Thereafter, authorities of the British Raj embarked on a large-scale modernization of the city in the 19th century with the intention of establishing a major and modern port which could serve as a gateway to Punjab, the western parts of British India, and Afghanistan. Britain's competition with imperial Russia during the Great Game also heightened the need for a modern port near Central Asia, and so Karachi prospered as a major centre of commerce and industry during the Raj, attracting communities of: Africans, Arabs, Armenians, Catholics from Goa, Jewish, Lebanese, Malays, and Zoroastrians (also known as Parsees) - in addition to the large number of British businessmen and colonial administrators who established the city's posh locales, such as Clifton.

British colonialists embarked on a number of public works of sanitation and transportation, such as gravel paved streets, proper drains, street sweepers, and a network of trams and horse-drawn trolleys. Colonial administrators also set up military camps, a European inhabited quarter, and organised marketplaces, of which the Empress Market is most notable. The city's wealthy elite also endowed the city with a large number of grand edifices, such as the elaborately decorated buildings that house social clubs, known as 'Gymkhanas.' Wealthy businessmen also funded the construction of the Jehangir Kothari Parade (a large seaside promenade) and the Frere Hall, in addition to the cinemas, and gambling parlours which dotted the city.

In 1911, when the capital was shifted to Delhi, Karachi became closer to being a gateway to India, and by 1914, Karachi had become the largest grain exporting port of the British Empire. In 1924, an aerodrome was built and Karachi became the main airport of entry into India. An airship mast was also built in Karachi in 1927 as part of the Imperial Airship Communications scheme, which was later abandoned. In 1936, Sindh was separated from the Bombay Presidency and Karachi was made again the capital of the Sindh. By the time the new country of Pakistan was formed in 1947 as British India was gained independence, Karachi had become a bustling metropolitan city with beautiful classical and colonial European styled buildings lining the city’s thoroughfares.

As the movement for independence almost reached its conclusion, the city suffered widespread outbreaks of communal violence between the majority Muslims and the minority Hindus, who were often targeted by the incoming Muslim refugees. In response to the perceived threat of Hindu domination, self-preservation of identity, language and culture in combination with Sindhi Muslim resentment towards wealthy Sindhi Hindus, the province of Sindh became the first province of British India to pass the Pakistan Resolution, in favour of the creation of the Pakistani state. The ensuing turmoil of independence lead to the expulsion of most of Karachi's Hindu community. While many poor low caste Hindus, Christians, and wealthy Zoroastrians (Parsees) remained in the city, Karachi's native Sindhi Hindu community fled to India and was replaced by Muslim refugees who, in turn, had been uprooted from regions belonging to India.

Pakistan's capital (1947-1958)District Karachi was chosen as the capital city of Pakistan and accommodated a huge influx of migrants and refugees from India to the newly formed country. As a consequence, the demographics of the city also changed drastically. However, it still maintained a great cultural diversity as its new inhabitants arrived from the different parts of the India. In 1958, the capital of Pakistan was shifted from Karachi to Islamabad and Karachi became the capital of Sindh. Large no. of rufugees migrated from India and embarked Karachi as the city of lights.

Cosmopolitan City (1958-1980)This marked the start of a long period of decline in the city due to settlement of huge crowds of illegal refugees from other parts of the world. The city’s population continued to grow exceeding the capacity of its creaking infrastructure and increased the pressure on the city.

During the 1960s, Karachi was seen as an economic role model around the world. Many countries sought to emulate Pakistan's economic planning strategy and one of them, South Korea, copied the city's second "Five-Year Plan" and World Financial Centre in Seoul is designed and modeled after Karachi.

The 1970s saw major labour struggles in Karachi's industrial estates, (see: Karachi labour unrest of 1972) During General Zia Ul Haq's Martial Law, Karachi saw relative peace and prosperity, specially during the 3 years of Major General Mahmood Aslam Hayat, as Deputy Martial Law Administrator Karachi from 1977 to 1980

Post 1970s (1980-Present)The 1980s and 90’s also saw an influx of illegal Afghan refugees from the Afghan war into Karachi,and the city now also called, a "city of illegal refugees". Political tensions between the Indian refugees groups (descendants of migrants from the partition era and in 1960s Economic migration) and other groups also erupted and the city was wracked with political violence. The period from 1992 to 1994 is regarded as the bloodiest period in the history of the city, when the Army commenced its Operation Clean-up against the Mohajir Qaumi Movement.

Since the last couple of years however, most of these tensions have largely been quieted. Karachi continues to be an important financial and industrial centre for the Sindh and handles most of the overseas trade of Pakistan and the Central Asian countries.[citation needed] It accounts for a large portion of the GDP of Sindh, Pakistan and a large chunk of the country's white collar workers. Karachi's population has continued to grow and is estimated to have exceeded 10 million people. Currently, Karachi is a melting pot where people from all the different parts of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iran and India. The Sindh government is undertaking a massive upgrading of the city’s infrastructure which promises to again put this heart of Sindh city of Karachi into the lineup of one of the world’s greatest metropolitan cities.

The last census was held on 1998, the current estimated Population ratio of 2012 is :

Urdu: 41.52% Pashto: 18.96% Punjabi: 15.64% Sindhi: 10.34% Balochi: 06.34% Saraiki: 04.11% Others: 03.09%. The others include Gujarati, Dawoodi Bohra, Memon, Brahui, Makrani, Khowar, Burushaski, Arabic, Persian and Bengali


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