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Karachi’s new city plan will put the local fishermen’s lives and resources at risk

Karachi’s new city plan will put the local fishermen’s lives and resources at risk

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What happened: Last month, the federal government issued an order, taking over the twin islands of Bundal and Buddo, locally known as Bhandar and Dingi, which form part of the Indus delta, where the river flows into the Arabian Sea in southern Sindh. The government plans is to build a city to “surpass Dubai”, and attract an investment of about $50bn (£37.5m), creating 150,000 jobs as claimed by Sindh governor Imran Ismail last month.

What’s wrong:  By occupying the island, the government will snatch the livelihoods of fishermen but also a hope for living for them. While talking to a reporter from The Guardian,  Rahila Habib, a member of the community said, “Prime Minister Imran Khan is acting like a king” and selling out Pakistan’s poor. “Khan had promised to provide millions of jobs to the poor. But instead of giving jobs, now he is doing the opposite,” says Habib. “Khan is making our people jobless and also ending the hope to live and pray.”

Environmentalist Arif Hasan says: “The islands are part of a delicate ecosystem. Mangrove marshes are nurseries for fish. They are home to migratory birds and also a buffer between the city and the ocean. This buffer has saved Karachi city during many cyclones.”

In September, Abid Aziz*, 25, was among a group fishing close to Ghizri, a former harbour now developed into the exclusive Marina Club for the wealthy and the military elite, when a patrol boat summoned them to the shore

“They didn’t ask us any questions, just beat us,” says Aziz. “After the beating they gave us an ultimatum of five minutes to leave. They didn’t tell us what our fault was but strictly told us not to come back for fishing.”

As reported by the media, Salman Ali  was among those beaten. “It is disheartening that we can’t even do fishing in our own sea. We can’t say anything about it, we are poor people.” He adds: “We are beaten, the development is for the elite, not for us.”

Background: The foundation of the island city began in 2006 when the government, led by Pervez Musharraf, signed a memorandum with Dubai-based developers to sell 16km of coastline for development. 

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