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January 4, 2015

Moot discusses spatial partitioning of Pakistan’s urban centres


January 4, 2015

An interactive workshop on the theme of Gender and Violence in Urban Pakistan, under the joint aegis of the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), University of Karachi, and the geography Department of King’s College, London, was held on Saturday at a hotel.
Theme of the workshop was, “An exploration of the links between access to infrastructure, gender, and violence in urban Pakistan (Karachi, Lahore, and Rawalpindi/Islamabad). The joint IBA-King's College team have conducted an in-depth baseline survey with over 2,400 residents of 11 low-income settlements, incorporating ethnographic work, to explore the causes and mitigation of violence in greater depth.
Some updated theory and training on: i) vulnerability and capacities, and, ii) social capital quality — both as potential suppressants against, or drivers of, different kinds of urban violence were also presented. The workshop also enumerated various methodologies for arriving at the empirical figures.
For Karachi, the workshop participants discussed the role played by spatial partitioning of the city. All participants agreed that ethnicity had certainly played a very significant role in the spiralling of violence the city had been witnessing for the last many years.
As for Rawalpindi, the consensus was that the city had more subtle forms of violence, much more subtle than in Karachi, but equally pervasive.
Issues like female mobility and exercise of choice by women also figured and the manner whereby these aspects had created a ‘disruptionist’ stance among men from the conservative segments of society, who were in a majority, were also discussed in detail.
Localities surveyed were, Arya Mohalla, Afghan Abadi (I-11/4, Islamabad), and France Colony, an archetype of a minority-dominated shanty town in the middle of an affluent area.
Researchers from Rawalpindi/Islamabad said that crimes people feared most in the areas surveyed and ones that were most frequent

were: robberies, extortion, cell phone snatching and murder. Cell phone snatching, they said, had increased in areas that had been commercialised.
The workshop also threw light on the infrastructural violence in the three cities: lack of prompt garbage collection, accumulation of toxic gas and epidemics, inefficient state institutions, infrastructural violence, disrupted water supply, corruption and water tanker mafia.
Abdul Rehman and Nasira Khan of the Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad, presented the case studies on Rawalpindi/Islamabad, while Arsam Saleem of the IBA, Karachi University, and Sidra Hussain of the NED University of Engineering and Technology, presented the case studies on Karachi. Areas surveyed in Karachi included, Orangi Town,Bin Qasim Town, Raees Amrohi town, and a couple of others.
Danish Mustafa, Reader at King’s College, London, spoke on vulnerability and how it makes one vulnerable to violence.
“Vulnerability helps us distinguish between the more and the less marginalized segments of society”, Mustafa said.
The workshop was conducted by Dr Nausheen Anwar of the Social Sciences Department, IBA, University of Karachi, Amiera Sawas of King’s College, London, and Sarwat Viqar of John Abbot College, Canada.

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