Historically Lyari is known as the mother of Karachi. It has provided base for the prosperous growth and development of the present Mega metropolis.
Lyari derives its name from the river which used to flow into the Arabian Sea. Its riverbed extended from Lalukhet (present Liaquat Abad) to the Port Trust yard. There were two larger watercourses for the rainwater to pass from the mountains to the sea. Between the two courses there existed twenty to twenty five fisher folk’s huts.. The spot was then called Dirbo. The new place later became known as "Kalachi-jo-Goth" "the village of Kalachi", the fisherwoman. Thus the first settlement of common people bearing the name of Lyari came into being in a fast developing city which later on was internationally known as Karachi becoming first capital of Pakistan.
In the course of time as shipping and trade developed rapidly, the existing port facilities became inadequate. It became necessary to reclaim the site on the Lyari Bed for housing purposes. On the other side of the Lyari River, "Khadda" (present UC.NO.04 Lyari Town) had already been built to accommodate fisherman, who were removed from "Machi Meanee" in 1870.
By then because of growing need for labour force in the port of Karachi had attracted a large number of immigrants, of which the Baluch's were in majority. They came from Makran/Balochistan and resided in the present location of Lyari, with the increasing economic activities in the city, immigrants from all over other cities of the country started to settle in Lyari Quarters soon people from all ethnic groups formed a "Mini-Pakistan" and Lyari Town is now an area which represents different culture and creed living amicably becoming a remarkable unified community.
Lyari: Karachi’s oldest settlement
KARACHI: Lyari Town is the oldest settlement of Karachi city, with an estimated population of 607,992, mainly comprising workers and small businessmen. Once the locality was characterized as a ‘labour colony’ when it was dominated by manual workers engaged in work at the port, railways and factories, but it has now a small emerging middle class due to expansion in trade and commercial activity. The number of small businessmen, factory owners, shopkeepers, teachers, professionals and government employees has gradually been increasing over the past two decades.
Under the new local body system, the locality has been given the status of a town, but its commercial areas including Lea Market and Timber Market have been excluded from its limits, thereby depriving the town of its main revenue earners.
The town has been divided into 11 union councils with a total population of 6,07,992 — UC-1 Agra Taj Colony (45,691), UC-2 Darayabad (59,281), UC-3 Nawabad (45,107), UC-4 Khadda Memon Society (58,363), UC-5 Baghdadi (56,653), UC-6 Shah Beg Lane (58,127), UC-7 Bihar Colony (44,571), UC-8 Rangiwara (60,121), UC-9 Singoo Lane (49,529), UC-10 Chawkiwara (66,208) and UC-11 Allama Iqbal Colony (64,341).
It has a 17-member town council comprising the 11 naib nazims of UCs, as well as four women, one member representing the minorities and one labour councillor.
NA-248, PS-108 and PS-109 in the former district South mainly comprise areas of the 11 union councils of the town. Its population consists of different linguistic, cultural, and ethnic communities such as Baloch, Sindhis, Lasis, Katchis and Memons who are old residents. Other linguistic and ethnic groups are Punjabis, Pathans, Niazis and Hazarwalas who have been settled in the locality since the late 60s. The locality has a small section of people who migrated from India at independence. Its minority population comprises Hindus, largely Meshwaris, and Christians.
In the 2001 local elections, the PPP backed Awam Dost panel had won with a thumping majority. Subsequently, panel backed candidates Abdul Khalique Juma and Malik Mohammad Khan were elected nazim and naib nazim of the town.
Besides that, out of the 11 Union Councils, the Awam Dost panel had also succeeded in winning the offices of nazims and naib nazims in UC-2, UC-5, UC-9, UC-10 and UC-11.
As an old settlement, the town was a hub of political activity even before the creation of Pakistan and has been so since independence. Till the late 60s, the Pakistan Muslim League dominated the politics of the area. Later in the 70s, the Pakistan People’s Party emerged as a strong party in the locality because of its populist politics and it continued to maintain its hold in successive elections.
Besides the PPP, there are also other political forces actively involved in local politics and their role cannot be overlooked. These are the Pakistan Muslim League (both factions), the Jamat-i-Islami (JI), JUI-F, the Sunni Tehrik and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM). Both the PML and the JI had made inroads in the last local elections, in which the MQM did not take part. Interestingly, the Sunni Tehrik has also fielded its own candidates.
In a way the entry of the MQM in the local politics of Lyari is itself a new factor as it is for the first time that the MQM will play an active role in Baloch areas traditionally dominated by the PPP.
Though the electoral scene will be clearer after withdrawal of nomination papers and final seat-to-seat arrangements between parties, panels and individuals, a survey shows that the main contests will be between the PPP, MMA, PML-Q and MQM backed panels.
A JI source said that the MMA had nominated candidates for three UCs for the nazim and naib nazim seats. They include UC-5 Baghdadi, UC-7 Bihar Colony and UC-8 Rangiwara.
According to him, the Jamaat has nominated Fazalur Reham for the post of Baghdadi Union Council nazim and JUI’s Sanaullah Raees will contest for naib nazim. The PPP has decided to field Shafi Khaskheli and Akhtar Baloch as UC nazim and naib nazim, respectively.
UC-5 Baghdadi Union is traditionally a PPP area, and in the last local election, Ghulam Abass Baloch, the well-known international footballer, was elected UC nazim. He is now contesting as an independent candidate for the post of nazim in protest because his earlier nomination by the party’s board was later turned down, a party source says.
A survey shows that in UC-1, Agra Taj Colony, the main contest will be between PPP-backed candidate Ramazan Singar and the MQM’s nominee, Hanif Marwat, for the UC nazim seat. The UC has a mixed population of Urdu, Punjabi and Kuchi speaking people.
UC-2 Darabad has a large population of Sindhis, Balochis, Kuchis and Niazis. In the previous election, the PPP’s nominee Rashid Baloch and Habibullah Khan Niazi won as nazim and naib nazim, respectively. This time the party has nominated Jafar Hingora and Karim Baloch.
In UC-3 Nawabad, the PPP’s nominee Rafiq Sulaiman and Jan Mohammad Ranoo will face independent candidates Yaseen Baloch and Adam Sheedi who are contesting for the post of Nazim and Naib Nazim.
An interesting contest will be held in UC-4 Khadda Memon Society where Karim Nizami, advocate, of the PPP will face Hanif Chattani of the MQM. Mr Chattani was elected nazim as an independent candidate in the last elections.
In UC-5, PPP voters are on the horns of a dilemma as the former UC nazim Abbas Baloch is contesting against the party’s nominee and they want the party leadership’s intervention to save the vote bank of the party from being divided.
For UC-6 Shah Beg Union Council, the PPP has nominated Abdul Majeed alias Abdul Bhaijan and Javaid to contest for the nazim and naib nazim posts. In UC-7 Bihar Colony and UC-8 Rangiwara, the main contest will be between the MQM, the JUP, and the PML-N.
In UC-9 Singoo Lane, which is predominantly a Baloch and Sindhi speaking area, the MQM has fielded Rashid Rehman for naib nazim while the PPP has put up former UC nazim Habib Hasan and local NGO activist Akram Baloch for the nazim and naib nazim slots.
In UC-10 Chawkiwara, the PPP has nominated former UC nazim Rauf Baloch and Jamal Haider to contest for the posts of nazim and naib nazim.
In UC-11, Allama Iqbal Colony, the PML-Q and MQM have jointly fielded Haji Sattar and Akhlaq Qureshi while the PPP has Shahjahan Baloch and Mohammad Niazi for the nazim and naib nazim seats.
The town has always faced acute water shortages, a near total lack of sanitation facilities and prolonged power failures, besides illegal construction and unlawful occupation of municipal land and a poor road system. Lack of open spaces and recreational facilities and the presence of several hundred warehouses and factories storing and manufacturing hazardous material have compounded the miseries of the people in this congested locality.
The town administration which took charge of the 11 union councils following local elections in 2001 could not address the grievances of the people effectively due to lack of funds. However, water supply in some parts of the town and the condition of roads improved.