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If you’re not from DHA or Clifton, who are you really?

If you’re not from DHA or Clifton, who are you really?


For a lot of people, this question may sting. And why shouldn’t it? It’s never easy to realize that you’ve been excluded or left out. Yet that is exactly the feeling some Karachiites live with.

The unspoken division of a city into affluent and non-affluent areas is a common phenomenon. This concept is then reinforced often in everyday life: when deciding where to dine and where to get groceries, and also the bigger decisions such as where to buy a house or where to send children to school. The fact is, no one likes the “rundown” part of town. No one wants to invest in a plot of land near Tariq Road simply because it’s far away from the city centre and offers poor value for money. But it may not be as simple as basic economics.

When one part of a city is given preference over another, it undergoes a fast-tracked process of development that puts it on a proverbial pedestal. It gets to the point that citizens unlucky enough to be on the “outside” then have to face blockades from various avenues. In sociological terms, they begin to be deprived of social capital.

S.E. Hinton in her book ‘The Outsiders’ had the right idea when she classified the haves and have-nots as socs (short for social) and greasers. The former lived better than the latter. Socs also got away with a lot more than the greasers, who were always on the verge of losing what little they had.

Perhaps people think DHA/Clifton versus rest of Karachi isn’t a very solid case to make. After all, people have their pride. They don’t necessarily want to be part of a clique; they are proud of who they are. But Karachi’s socioeconomic divisions are a small representation of the bigger problem: that you have to be a certain someone, from a certain somewhere, to get a certain something.

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