Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Today's Lyari

by Natasha Ansari and Ebad Pasha

Photo credit: Dr. Nida Kirmani

Often in mainstream discourses on Karachi, the alleged “most dangerous city in the world,” Lyari continues to be routinely framed as the most dangerous address within Karachi.[1] Though it is undisputed that the “gang-war era” certainly wreaked havoc on the lives of Lyari’s residents in overt and covert ways, and the post-conflict trauma thereafter is an active remnant of those times. Nevertheless, through our recent fieldwork for the UNDP-Youth Employment Project, it is evident that persisting perceptions of it being a notoriously volatile place due to gang violence are not helpful. Not only is this oversimplification arguably no longer a lived reality for most of Lyari’s residents post-operation—it moreover reductively masks and betrays a more complex relationship with the structural nature of violence, and can therefore be a harmful generalization, if not a misguided one. We attempt to tackle some tropes and misconceptions regarding violence in Lyari’s current context in terms of unemployment, Rangers’ “security” framework and gender based on some initial findings from our research.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Violence and tolerance

by Haris Gazdar

Non-violence, sculpture by Carl Fredrik Reutersward
Photo credit: Flickr/Georgio Galeotti

Targeted violence against Shia Muslims came home to me recently. I was catching up with a close relative (let’s call him Zain) who has himself been a victim of such violence a few years ago. He was shot and injured, but thankfully recovered. We were at a family gathering and I urged him to take another helping of food when he said that he needed to watch his diet because he had “restricted his mobility” and was not getting enough exercise. It turned out that there had been a spate of shootings culminating in the attack on a majlis at a home in the North Nazimabad locality of Karachi, and many of those incidents directly affected his social circles. Zain felt that he needed to be cautious. The almost normal way in which we spoke about these threats was, on reflection, shocking. Perhaps, being a survivor, had made him stoical and stronger.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Do we give back?

by Amna Akhtar

What can we give back? Respondents at  the field site in Dadu
Photo credit: Collective team

‘Tell me what’s wrong with my baby. There are no health services in these areas. Help us.’ Conversations and pleas such as these are not uncommon for researchers to hear. Every time we step into the field in rural, low income areas of the country, we are met with countless appeals from our respondents to do something. To act. To intervene. But as researchers, that is the one thing we are trained not to do. As observers of an issue or community our task is to objectively gather information, interact with locals and gather insights. We cannot ‘help’ people or provide goods or services. The only thing we may give at times is compensation for the time people spent with us and consequently lost out in their wages and earnings.