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Conflict in Karachi and education

The understanding of what is meant by conflict can sometimes be very subjective. In this blog post I wanted to share a first-hand experience from Karachi. Despite being the industrial hub and heartbeat of Pakistan, this city has seen constant bloodshed these past few decades. With political instability and shaky law and order situations, students used to wake up to news where schools had been closed due to either protests, sit ins, strikes or rampant violence across the city due to political reasons. One could say we were accustomed to it. It started becoming normal for us, we began joking about it and taking it casually. There was a time when entire Karachi was in lockdown due to a city-wide strike and we still went out for our CIE that day completely terrified and uncertain if we could return back home safely.

To add on to the conflict, there were massive amounts of targeted killings. We would wake up everyday and find out this and this number of people have been killed. There was a time when bodies were found in rucksacks showing signs of being brutally killed. This was a normal for Karachi a decade ago.

But why haven't we discussed this as conflict? There was so much going on. Political differences, ethnic hatred, sectarian violence, ransom, and ideological clashes. It is such a diverse city that all these kinds of violence were possible. All of this was happening together. People were being caught in the middle. Normal people with no political or religious affiliations. Because it was easy to kill someone in Karachi. Shooters could be rented and anyone could be killed. While this was not explicit, it was very well showing signs of conflict. Even back in late 80's and 90's, Karachi fell into grim political violence.

Result? There were families who were left on their own to survive. There was a deep psychological impact on children who were always scared of losing a loved one. Moreover, when families lost a member on whom they were solely dependent economically, there was zero support from any authority to uplift them financially. There were and still no scholarships available to students who suddenly lost their father. If they were doing well while he was alive, now the world for them was completely upside down. Their education was in danger. There future was dark because getting out of the crisis required them to complete education when they had to figure out suddenly how to survive without income.

Somewhere in this conflict we lost a lot. We lost the safety of our city, we lost the freedom, we lost mental peace, we lost our loved ones and some of us also lost our bright future.

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I came to Karachi for my A Levels in 2015. Even though by then most of the above-mentioned tensions were under control, I could see how normalized the ideas of strikes and violence were for my class fellows who had spent their childhood in the city. While it is easier to measure the loss of outcomes due to a day-off every week (something my friends used to joke about), the psychological impact of such devastations go unnoticed. I remember when Mumtaz Qadri was hanged in 2016, there were a large number of protests in the city. It was astonishing to see how calmly my class fellows reacted to the school administration asking us to leave in the middle of the…


Considering that I have never been to Karachi, it is difficult for me to relate but growing up in Lahore was not any different as far as the psychological impact is concerned. Talking about times when bomb blast were a constant thing, there was so much uncertainty that every day there were some sort of protest going on in the city and most of them occurred in front of the press club which was in the same vicinity as my school. The car ride to and from the school almost always involved a discussion with my father about our safety. Most of our classes got cancelled and we were instead asked to help run donation drives and make gift bags…


I am so so sorry you went through this, I hope you and your family are safe now. Thank you for writing about this and remind us all of this incredibly harrowing time. It's interesting because I have a lot of family in Karachi, and we rarely ever talk about this. Even when it was happening, we barely talked about the impact it had on them. I wonder if anyone asked. I wish I was old enough to know I should check in. Even in recent years, I also remember that it became a joke - the number of times that Karachi shut down. We thought it was just another holiday for the students. But little did we know that…


Originating from Karachi, I can totally relate with what you have written. I remember how repeated instances of violence eventually led to a change in attitudes of all stakeholders involved. Whilst we successfully quantify the consequences of such conflicts, we fail to take into account the emotional damage that is inflicted upon the victims and how it eventually proves to be breeding ground for further violence. I can vividly recall an incident from my school days where a friend of mine belonging to the Pashtun community had lost his father on account of target killing since he failed to comply with the “bhatta” culture that was becoming a norm within the city. After his death, it was discovered that thos…


Apr 26, 2021

This is one of the most relatable blog posts so far. I remember there was a specific period between 2008-2010 when Lahore too became unsafe. There is one day in particular that came to my mind when I read the blog.

We were singing the national anthem during our morning assembly when we heard an explosion-like sound coming from an unknown direction. Our teachers sent us off to our class immediately. And when we asked for explanations, they simply told us that one of the heavy machinery, which was being used for construction of a building nearby fell and that's where the loud sound came from. For the rest of the day, we weren't allowed to leave our classes, and…

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I remember this vividly, the blast happened in the FIA office in Model Town. I was in 6th grade and my history teacher casually comes in the class and tells us there has been a bomb blast in Model Town, she didn't even seem worried. Now since our school was in DHA, we hadn't heard anything, but I was pretty much freaking out because I lived in Model Town at that time and everyone else in the class, including the teacher is just all chilling as if nothing had even happened....

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