History of Karachi

History of Karachi

The area of Karachi, in Sindh, Pakistan was known to the ancient Greeks by many names: Krokola, where Alexander the Great camped in Sindh to prepare a fleet for Babylonia after his campaign in the Indus valley; 'Morontobara' port (probably the modern Manora Island near the Karachi harbor), from where Alexander's admiral Nearchus sailed for back home; and Barbarikon, a sea port of the Indo-Greek Bactrian kingdom. The Arabs knew it as the port of Debal, from where Muhammad Bin Qasim led his conquering force into South Asia in AD 712. According to the British historian Eliot, parts of district of Karachi and the island of Manora constituted the city of Debal.Fact|date=January 2007 |in context quote from Eliot needed supporting assertation

According to legend, the city started as a fishing settlement, where a fisherwoma, Mai Kolachi, settled and started a family. The village that grew out of this settlement was known as Kolachi-jo-Goth (The Village of Kolachi in Sindhi). When Sindh started trading across the sea with Muscat and the Persian Gulf in the late 1700s, Karachi gained in importance; a small fort was constructed for its protection with a few cannons imported from Muscat. The fort had two main gateways: one facing the sea, known as Khara Dar (Brackish Gate) and the other facing the adjoining Lyari river, known as the Meetha Dar (Sweet Gate). The location of these gates corresponds to the present-day city localities of Khaaradar (Unicode|"Khārā Dar") and Meethadar (Unicode|"Mīṭhā Dar") respectively.

Talpur Period (1795 - 1839)

In 1795, Kolachi-jo-Goth passed from the control of the Khan of Kalat to the Talpur rulers of Sindh. The British, venturing and enterprising in South Asia opened a small factory here in September 1799, but it was closed down within a year because of disputes with the ruling Talpurs. However, this village by the mouth of the Indus river had caught the attention of the British East India Company, who, after sending a couple of exploratory missions to the area, conquered the town on February 3rd, 1839.

Company Rule (1839 - 1858)

The village was later annexed to the British Indian Empire when the Sindh was conquered by Charles Napier in 1843. The capital of Sindh was shifted from Hyderabad to Karachi in the 1840s. This led to a turning point in the city's history.

In 1847, on Napier's departure the entire Sindh was added to the Bombay Presidency. The post of the governor was abolished and that of the Chief Commissioner in Sindh established.

The British realized its importance as a military cantonment and a port for the produce of the Indus basin, and rapidly developed its harbor for shipping. The foundation of a city municipal committee was laid down by the Commissioner in Sinde, Bartle Frere and infrastructure development was undertaken. Consequently, new businesses started opening up and the population of the town started rising rapidly. Karachi quickly turned into a city, making true the famous quote by Napier who is known to have said: "Would that I could come again to see you in your grandeur!"

In 1857, the First Indian War for Independence broke out in the sub-continent and the 21st Native Infantry stationed in Karachi declared their allegiance to the rebels and joined their cause on September 10, 1857. However, the British quickly defeated the uprising and reasserted their control over Sindh. Karachi was known as "Khurachee Scinde" (i.e. Karachi, Sindh) during the early British colonial rule.

The British Raj (1858 - 1947)

In 1864, a direct telegraph connection was laid down between Karachi and London from where the first telegraphic message was sent from India to England. In 1878, the city was connected to the rest of British India by railway line. Public building projects such as the Frere Hall (1865) and the Empress Market (1890) were undertaken. In 1876, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, was born in the city which by now had become a bustling city with railroad, churches, mosques, courthouses, markets, paved streets and a magnificent harbour. The opening of the Suez canal in 1869 also added to the importance of the city’s port. The Karachi Port Trust was established in 1886 and by 1899 this Sindh port of Karachi had become the largest wheat exporting port in the East (Feldman 1970:57). The population of the city had also risen to about 105,000 inhabitants by the end of the 19th century and was a cosmopolitan mix of Sindhi's, European traders, Parsis, Iranians, Lebanese, and Goan merchants. The population of the city grew from 73,500 (1881), to 105,199 (1891), to 115,407 (1901) (Britannica 1911 ed.) and by the turn of the century, the city faced street congestion for which, India’s first tramway system was laid down in Karachi in 1900.

In 1911, when the capital was shifted to Delhi, Karachi became closer to being a gateway to India and by 1914, Karachi had become the largest grain exporting port of the British Empire. In 1924, an aerodrome was built and Karachi became the main airport of entry into India. An airship mast was also built in Karachi in 1927 as part of the Imperial Airship Communications scheme, which was later abandoned. In 1836, Sindh was separated from the Bombay Presidency and Karachi was made again the capital of the Sindh. By the time the new country of Pakistan was formed in 1947 as British India was gained independence, Karachi had become a bustling metropolitan city with beautiful classical and colonial European styled buildings lining the city’s thoroughfares.

Pakistan's capital (since 1947)

District Karachi was chosen as the capital city of Pakistan and accommodated a huge influx of migrants and refugees from India to the newly formed country. As a consequence, the demographics of the city also changed drastically. However, it still maintained a great cultural diversity as its new inhabitants arrived from the different parts of the India . In 1958, the capital of Pakistan was shifted from Karachi to Rawalpindi and Karachi became the capital of Sindh.

This marked the start of a long period of decline in the city due to settlement of huge crowds of illegal Indian refugees. The city’s population continued to grow exceeding the capacity of its creaking infrastructure and increased the pressure on the city. The 1980’s and 90’s also saw an influx of illegal Afghan refugees from the Afghan war into Karachi,and the city now also called, a "city of illegal refugees". Political tensions between the Indian refugees groups (descendants of migrants from the partition era) and other groups also erupted and the city was wracked with political violence.

Since the last couple of years however, most of these tensions have largely simmered down. Karachi continues to be an important financial and industrial centre for the Sindh and handles most of the overseas trade of Pakistan and the Central Asian countries. It accounts for a large portion of the GDP of Sindh, Pakistan and a large chunk of the country's white collar workers. Karachi's population has continued to grow and is estimated to have passed the 10 million mark. Currently, Karachi is a melting pot where people from all the different parts of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iran and India. The Sindh government is undertaking a massive upgrading of the city’s infrastructure which promises to again put this heart of Sindh city of Karachi into the lineup of one of the world’s greatest metropolitan cities.

Picture gallery

See also

col1 =
* History of Pakistan
* History of Sindh
* Demographics of Karachi
* Economy of Karachi
* Culture of Karachi
* Education in Karachi
col2 =
* Muhammad bin Qasim
* Abdullah Shah Ghazi
* Kulachi (tribe)
* Kolachi jo Goth
* Krokola
* Karachi
col3 =
* Mai Kolachi
* Kolachi
* Debal
* Morontobara
* Bhambore

External links

* [http://www.historickarachi.com Historic Karachi] , the history of Karachi explored using old photographs.
* [http://www.geocities.com/my_karachi_city/karachi_history.htm Karachi History]

Template group
list =

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