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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 December 2007, 17:05 GMT
One day in Pakistan: Views and news



Unaiza Maniar  Asim Butt  Saima BaigMohammad UmarTasleem HafeezMoin Ali

Pakistan map

On Tuesday, people in Pakistan have been replying to e-mails from BBC News website readers about what life is like in their country.

Pakistan has been going through great political turbulence. Last week President Musharraf lift the state of emergency he imposed in November. National and provincial elections are due in January.

Find out more: Q&A: Pakistan's political crisis.

Above are six people from Pakistan's biggest city, Karachi. Click on the photos to read more about them.

These people and villagers from Mehra Sharif, north of Islamabad, have been answering your questions on the BBC News website and on BBC World television.

KARACHI

Photo:Karachi
See a 360-degree panorama of Karachi


Karachi is Pakistan's largest city and also its most volatile in terms of ethnic and sectarian strife. It has also served as a melting pot for such diverse people as Sindhis, Pashtuns, Punjabis and refugees from India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Iran, China and the Far East.

The refugees from partition with India in 1947, the Muhajirs, are the dominant group, followed by Pashtuns and Punjabis from the north and north-west of the country. Tens of thousands of migrants from other countries of the sub-continent also live in the city illegally.

The population is estimated to be between 14 million to 16 million,
It is today a city of different ethnic and religious groups living in separate localities with their armed wings lurking in the shadows

spread over an area of about 3,500 square kilometres which puts the city's civic infrastructure under tremendous pressure.

Karachi has always been the main centre of economic growth in Pakistan. As it is Pakistan's only major seaport, Karachi ends up raising more than 65% of the national revenue from customs and taxation.

UNAIZA MANIAR, 21, STUDENT

Unaiza Maniar
Unaiza wants to be a television journalist in Pakistan after completing her studies
Unaiza Maniar has recently completed her A-levels. For the last three years, she has been working towards studying in the UK. She wants to be a journalist, and her main thrust so far has been to work as an intern at publishing houses such as the Oxford University Press, the Aga Khan Foundation and the Dawn newspaper.

She says she prefers TV journalism over the print media, which she does not find very exciting. Like many upper-middle-class youth, Unaiza is not exposed to the tougher side of life in Karachi. In her view, the ban on TV channels is the only negative side of emergency rule imposed by President Musharraf in November.

It has not affected her life in any other aspect.
The present Pakistani system is stagnant, rotting
She believes that Mr Musharraf started off as a promising leader but has now succumbed to the temptations of power. She is particularly angry because former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has been allowed back into the country. "What about all the corruption charges against her?" she asks.

ASIM BUTT, 29, ARTIST

Asim Butt

Asim Butt is an artist who paints, sculpts and has an interest in graffiti and print-making. He studied social sciences at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (Lums) and went on to study for a PhD in the United States. But before completing the programme, he switched to art.

He has also spent four years studying art at Karachi's respected Indus Valley School for Arts.

He says he has been painting since an early age but went to study at Lums and in the US on the insistence of his parents. A 'subversive' artist, he has been a part of the recent protests in Pakistan against the imposition of emergency. He has done anti-government graffiti on the city walls and posters for protest demonstrations.

I feel there is something big at stake here, and an opportunity to be a part of the wider process
His rebellious nature stems from what he calls his longing for the restoration of people's dignity, which he feels has been usurped by the military as a dominant power in social and economic life. He hails from a well-to-do family and lives with his parents in Karachi's wealthy neighbourhood of Defence Housing Authority.

SAIMA BAIG, 37, ECONOMIST

Saima Baig
Saima is not happy with the current political instability in Pakistan

Saima Baig is an environmental economist who runs a consultancy for the Sri Lanka chapter of the Geneva-based International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). She is based in Karachi. Originally a finance manager with an MBA (master of business administration) degree, she worked briefly in the corporate sector in Pakistan in late 1990s.

But then she took up a job at IUCN Pakistan in 1999, and afterwards went for a graduate course at Yale University's School of Forestry and Environmental Studies in the US. She says she was inspired by environmental issues, and her business skills helped her build a career around the economic aspect of those issues. She lives with her parents, and a recently-married brother and his wife, in Karachi's up-market Defence Housing Authority.

The media also needs to be more balanced in what it projects
She says she is not happy with the current political instability in Pakistan, but the last eight years or so have not been bad for the country. There are signs that the economy has progressed. She opposes recent ban on electronic media, but says the media also needs to be "more balanced".

MOHAMMAD UMAR, 38, EXECUTIVE

Mohammad Umar
Umar has worked to earn a living from an early age

Mohammad Umar is a mid-level executive at an American firm that offers oil drilling services in Pakistan. He looks after its procurement and inventory control operations. He lives in the middle-class North Nazimabad district of Karachi with his wife and a six-year-old son. He hailing from a very large family of six brothers and five sisters.

Mohammad studied International Relations at Karachi University, and then worked at various organisations. He has taught at Pakistan's respected Beacon House chain of schools and worked for a pharmaceutical firm. He says he owes his present job to the upswing in Pakistani economy since 2001, which led to an expansion in the services sector.

Crime rates move in direct proportion to tyranny
He says law enforcement in Pakistan has often worked to the detriment of the common man's interests. He believes crime rates move in direct proportion to tyranny, and points to a media report that street crime in Karachi has increased significantly since the imposition of emergency.

TASLEEM HAFEEZ, 23, STUDENT

Tasleem Hafeez
Tasleem wants to join an NGO as an activist and organiser
Tasleem Hafeez is a post-graduate student at the Pakistan Studies Centre, Karachi University. Living in the lower middle-class neighbourhood of Dastgir, she has seen life disrupted repeatedly by deteriorating infrastructure and growing traffic chaos.

She aspires to be a social worker in the field of education and poverty reduction - areas she believes need immediate attention if Pakistan is to overcome its problems. After finishing her studies, she intends to join one of the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as an activist and organiser.

She considers all politicians, including President Pervez Musharraf, as "mean" due to their "hypocrisy and double-speak" and their "apathy towards people's problems".

The rich have been getting richer and the poor poorer during the past few years
She also feels that in Karachi, which is physically divided into class-based localities, the rich have been getting richer and the poor poorer during the past few years.

MOIN ALI, 36, BUSINESSMAN

Moin Ali
Pakistan has always been "in a state of emergency", but the people have proved to be resilient and capable of overcoming difficult times

Cricket fan Moin Ali is an up and coming businessman from Karachi's sprawling middle-class locality of Gulistan-e-Jauhar. He says he has benefited from the economic policies of the last six years that have led to high annual growth rates of between 6% and 7%.

Married, with a seven-year-old son, he has lived in the US and Canada for extended periods, holding various jobs including one at American Express. In Pakistan, he has worked for such multi-national corporations as Unilever. He now runs a training facility for Karachi's expanding corporate sector, offering customised manpower resource development programmes to business establishments with varying needs.

He is optimistic about the future of business in Pakistan. He does not believe in the doomsday scenarios being painted by analysts who say economic growth has already reached a saturation point. Regarding the current political instability, he says Pakistan has always been "in a state of emergency", but the people have proved to be resilient and capable of overcoming difficult times.



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