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March 6, 2015

An alliance emerges to protect Malir’s historical sites


March 6, 2015

Political leaders, civil society activists and academics of District Malir have started a campaign calling for protection of ancient sites that stand to be lost if the proposed plans of two mega housing projects on the city’s periphery proceed unopposed.
With an aim to stop the demolition of villages dating back hundreds of years, they have recently formed the Karachi Indigenous Rights Alliance (KIRA) and constituted a 30-member committee headed by Malir-based political leader Saleem Baloch Kalmati.
Abdul Hakeem Baloch, state minister for communications; Haji Shafi Jamot, a Pakistan Muslim League–Nawaz MPA; Khuda Dino Shah, former Town Nazim of Bin Qasim; Gul Hasan Kalmati, a prominent Sindh folklore writer; and Dr Rukhman Palari, a teacher at the University of Karachi, are among the prominent political and social figures part of the committee.
Speaking to The News, Saleem Kalmati alleged that the Sindh government had sold off 43 Dehs to the builder of the country’s largest housing scheme through illegal adjustments through the Malir Development Authority.
“Our struggle is simply to protect these historical sites and stop the demolition of Goths (villages) in the Gadap area on both, the legal and political, fronts,” he said.
“Crucially, we have been receiving immense support from other political parties, civil society groups, cultural associations and local residents as well.”
Abdul Hakeem Baloch vowed that he and his colleagues would raise the issue of land grabbing in both, the national and provincial, assemblies.
“Officials of the revenue and police department, at the behest of the Sindh government, have used negative tactics to compel a number of local villagers to sell their land at shockingly low prices,” he told The News.
Dr Rukhman Palari said the two mega housing schemes were wrecking dozens of historical and cultural sites of Sindh, some of which are even mentioned in the revered Sufi saint

Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai’s poetry.
“It is the Sindh government’s responsibility to protect these heritage sites but corrupt officials have been maintaining a criminal silence over the matter,” Palari said.
In a March 3 public gathering at the Malir Press Club, leaders of major Sindhi nationalist parties, particularly Dr Qadir Magsi, Niaz Kalani, Abdul Khaliq Junejo, Riaz Chandio, Akhter Hussain Kutchi, Mazhar Rahojo and Mehboob Abbasi, had announced their support for KIRA.
Also, members of the alliance spoke at a seminar titled ‘Chaotic urbanisation and its impact on the historical places of Karachi’ organised by the KU’s Department of International Relations on March 4.
Arif Hasan, prominent architect and planner, and Roland DeSouza, a civic activist associated with Shehri-Citizens for Better Environment, also attended and gave detailed presentations.
The KIRA committee members are now scheduled to speak to the media on March 9 at the Karachi Press Club.

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