Why I AM KARACHI?
Karachi, one of the largest cities of the world, and historically described as ‘Paris of the East’, has increasingly developed a reputation for being one of the most violent and dangerous cities in the world. Home to gang-wars, religious conflicts, increasing ethnic divides and lethal extremist groups, each year Karachi surpasses its own record of lives lost to violence. Be it industrialists, businessmen, journalists, students, laborers, law-enforcement agencies or homemakers – the narratives of violence and crime are countless.
This violence has resulted in a fear causing detrimental social and cultural shifts, not only at an individual level, but also at a wider societal level. The public and social spaces (both intellectual and physical) continue to shrink and are under severe compromise, both in terms of number and accessibility. Therefore Karachiites are not only left with significantly fewer opportunities for cultural rejuvenation, creativity and expression, but are also unable to come together, engage in dialogue and interact in a common space.
Research shows that at the peak of Karachi’s cinema culture, there were 136 cinemas spread across the city. Today less than 75% remain. Similarly, Karachi has not only witnessed a substantial reduction in cultural activities, ranging from sports events to concerts, but is perplexed with small audiences as well. While some may argue otherwise, it is important to note that the activities that do happen are largely limited to a certain social class, restricting access based on financial resources.
This is not to suggest that violence is the only causal factor of shrinking public spaces. The ongoing wave of violence has translated itself into a larger societal problem of increasing fragmentation and polarization within the diverse peoples of the city and continues to dampen and weaken the cultural fabric and social cohesion of the city.
What is I AM KARACHI?
As a response, concerned citizens and civil society organizations of Karachi have come together to initiate a city wide movement by the name of I AM KARACHI. I AM KARACHI aims to collectively rebuild the diverse social and cultural fabric of the city by providing a platform for likeminded organizations and individuals committed to promoting socio-cultural activities and campaigns as vehicles for peace building through Arts, Culture, Sports and Dialogue.
How Can You Get Involved?
I AM KARACHI aims to inculcate hope, pride and ownership in the citizens of Karachi to collectively strive for a peaceful and vibrant city.
Join the campaign, pledge your support for I AM KARACHI, spread the message
Become an activist for peace, volunteer for the cause, become an ambassador
Organize an event in the spirit of I AM KARACHI
Become a partner organization of I AM KARACHI
Support the campaign financially
Aims & Objectives
Reclaim Public Spaces
Public spaces are those that are open and accessible to people, but are used within the concept of a larger social space referring to both physical and intellectual spaces. Karachi has had a history of vibrant culture and avenues for exchange of ideas, art, music, theater, cinema, sports etc. However, over the years, these public spaces for social and cultural exchange, debate and interaction have continually diminished. I AM KARACHI believes that shrinking of such public spaces is a significant factor in contributing towards intolerance, fragmentation and polarization in the city. Therefore, I AM KARACHI aims to reclaim public spaces by:
Promoting social and cultural activities in Karachi that encourage positive exchange of ideas, dialogue, sports, arts, theater, music, heritage preservation etc.
Reviving existing public spaces and cultural institutions for greater inclusion and engagement.
Creating fresh, safe public spaces promoting open interaction and positive exchange of ideas.
Bring Civil Society Together
Civil society plays a pivotal role in strengthening a society’s social and cultural fabric by advocating for the interests and rights of the people. It also acts as a bridge between the government and the people for provision of basic services. However, Karachi’s civil society is fragmented, polarized and unable to effectively synergize and work together for creating a peaceful city. Therefore, by bringing civil society together, I AM KARACHI aims to:
Create a common platform to enhance synergy and collaboration.
Share and strengthen existing resources, expertise and networks to maximize outreach and impact.
Increase interaction and engagement between the civil society and other relevant stakeholders in the city including the government, media, business/private sectors etc.
Enhance Public Awareness and Advocacy
The increasing violence in Karachi is a symptom of a larger societal problem that is weakening the social fabric and diverse cultural makeup of the city, thereby reinforcing negative values of hate, intolerance and extremism. Moreover, there is little or no understanding of how social and public spaces play an integral role in protecting and preserving a city’s social fabric for achieving peace. Therefore, I AM KARACHI aims to lobby and advocate for:
Enhancing awareness about the importance of physical, social and intellectual public spaces for a vibrant and tolerant city.
Promoting and supporting arts, sports, culture, literature, dialogue by engaging all stakeholders in the city including media, government, civil society, private sector etc.
Increasing public entitlement and access to public spaces in the city to while preserving existing public spaces, and creating new ones.