Pakistan's crumbling architectural heritage

From Reuters - March 1, 2018

KARACHI, Pakistan (Reuters) - When British colonial rulers hastily left South Asia at Pakistans painful birth in 1947, the ensuing chaos and violence meant little attention was paid to the architecture they built or influenced in Pakistans biggest city, Karachi.

More than 70 years later, architectural gems have been torn down and many are either crumbling or under threat from real estate developers in Pakistans commercial capital which is mushrooming into a mega-city.

The structures, weathered by the salty air, open the door to Karachis colonial scars, researchers say, pointing out that many of the original owners were among millions of Muslim and Hindu refugees who fled their homes amid communal and religious violence that accompanied the end of British rule in India in 1947 and the creation of Pakistan.

Every brick of the heritage building narrates a story of those who left in 1947, said Akthar Baloch, a researcher who has written several books on Karachis heritage.They built them with love and affection.

"When people like me feel bad looking at the neglect of these heritage sites, one wonders how the families of the owners must feel if they ever visit Karachi." (Click for a picture package of Karachi's crumbling heritage buildings)

Karachis population has skyrocketed to nearly 17 million people in 2017 from an estimated 400,000 at independence, and every inch of the city has become a valuable commodity for developers building homes or drafting plans to alter the citys skyline with new skyscrapers.

Jahangir Kothari Parade promenade, once an imposing British heritage site, is now obscured by a maze of overpasses and the shadow of Pakistans tallest building.


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