Thu. Jun 1st, 2023

Lyari is a line, from where Karachi starts. The energy of Lyari is different from the whole of Karachi, but different from the whole of Pakistan, perhaps different from the whole world.

Lyari, which was once Greece and is still Brazil
Lyari, which was once Greece and is still Brazil


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They are the true children of the earth and their knowledge is very organic. If you want to understand the economic, political, social, literary, business or resistance history of Pakistan, it will be enough to read the history of Lyari. If one wants to know the correct direction of history, then reading Lyari is a must.

The history of Lyari has also been given importance by foreign writers, but the real story of the land is the one written by the children of the land. Everyone has written stories, Ramzan Baloch has written the untold story of Lyari.

Lyari was a small Greece inhabited by educated people. Few people know that when Faiz Ahmed Faiz was offered the principalship of one of the two colleges, he immediately set his finger on Abdullah Haroon College in Pashtar Lyari.

Lyari is grateful to Faiz, but Lyari did not need Faiz. The people of Lyari were independent in knowledge. Intellectuals and teachers like Saba Hasan Dashtiari were available to him at a knock. Even before the arrival of Faiz, the common people of Lyari were carrying out a regular campaign of “take the girls out of the house, send them to school” by putting up banners.

Women like Apa Gul Bibi and Mulla Jannat Bibi were providing modern education to underprivileged girls. Mixed education was not a surprising question for him. The “Bhai Lug” of Lyari were also concerned about the education of the vagrant children. There must have been a reason why people from other cities would sacrifice their lives to get admission in Lyari’s educational institutions.

When women’s rights were being established in the big cities of Pakistan, women were running shops in Lyari. In Lyari’s “Jhatpat Market”, every shop from clothes to vegetables was run by women. They also employed men for small jobs. Men used to shop in this market very easily. This market is still there but now it is dominated by men.

Hotels in Lyari were also not just hotels. These were cradles of knowledge, where books and ideas were discussed. Disorganized workers used to listen to Chekhov’s fables and Borges’ stories here. Kochwan and hawkers sitting here also used to talk in verses. Workers discussed the philosophies of Kant and Hegel. Eminent politicians like Mir Bakhsh Bizenjo used to be available to him for political dialogues on these banks.

This hotel also used to be the cinema house of Lyari. It was not that unique. The unique thing was that the owners of the same hotels were also helpful in providing banned intellectual literature and cassettes of good movies. Small studios were also built in some hotels. These owners were connoisseurs themselves, consciously cultivating art and literature.

Guess that Uncle Abdul Haq had named his hotel “Aftab-e Musiqi Hotel”. People say that the walls of this hotel looked like an organized art gallery. Ripe tunes could be heard from his counter. Cultural clothes designed by Soleimani T-shop owner Noor Mohammad used to be exhibited at the Arts Council. Siddiq Sheedi used to make his own tea at his dhaba and also ran a theater outside the dhaba. The whole troupe was present in Lyari.

Just as we used to start cricket by putting a wicket anywhere in childhood, this group used to start theater standing anywhere. There was a custom of showing movies and decorating the theater by putting up a white curtain for weddings. The old chaps here remember the dialogues and characters of the plays of Shakespeare, Agha Hasher Kashmiri and Imtiaz Ali Taj through these theatres.

In Lyari, classical music was also considered an essential part of weddings. Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan and Mehdi Hasan Khan have spent the whole night in weddings here. Lyari’s own musicians were also unaccountable. Colors of culture and resistance were very deep in his art. They passed by singing the ghazals of Sahir, Jalib, Faiz and Gul Khan Nasir against Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan and then General Zia. Even today some traces of the bygone times remain there. Now sadness speaks in their dark rooms. Their harmoniums are muted but the conscience is very content.

The people of Lyari who were illiterate were not ignorant either. This is the reason why Lyari sheltered every voice of democracy in its arena and rejected every anti-people voice. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, when General Ayub Khan was a powerful minister, went to Lyari. Then he was in authority and in protocol but Lyari had reversed his stage.

This same Bhutto went to Lyari even when he got down from the palanquin of power and became the representative of the people. He was powerless and lonely then, but Lyari set an eternal stage for him on her eyelids. This stage was decorated even on the day when Bhutto was hanged. When the political lights of the entire country had been put to rest in the niches, the lights of Lyari were still burning among the leaders. A tragedy like East Pakistan could not extinguish these lights, how could any other accident extinguish them?

I did not say that the energy of Lyari is different from the whole of Pakistan. Let’s see that a game like cricket is not played here, which was popularized by the British during the colonial period in their colonial countries. Even during the British rule, this area was far away from cricket. They used to play regular football with the cricket ball used in cricket.

The American embassy was captivated by this frenzy. The embassy sent their mobile cinemas and started showing them football shows. Captain Umar, a football player from Lyari, had a lot of skills in every club in India. Dilip Kumar was his true fan. So true that he sent a request to Captain Umar for a meeting.

Dhaka Football Club was the name in the region. Tragedy As far as East Pakistan, more than half of the players in the Dhaka club were from Lyari. In the 1960s, the Turkish football team came to Pakistan and easily defeated our nation’s team. When the same team went to Karachi for a practice match, the boys of Lyari scored two goals in the first round and made the team easy.

Confused about which is the real team, the one we played, or the one we’re playing now? Turkey, however, appreciated it from the heart. He took along Jabbar Baloch and Maula Bakhsh Gotai. The fields of Ankara will miss him.

Even if there is a cricket match between India and Pakistan, Lyari is engrossed in his own world. When it’s football season, the stadiums in Lyari are full of electricity. Every street night, the four eyes wake up. The roads are decorated with flags of every color and screens are installed in the fields. There will not be as many fans of live cricket in one arena as there are people sitting restlessly in front of football screens in Lyari.

The collar of Lyari is chalk and the hem is tar tar. Lyari’s face and appearance has changed after enduring sufferings, but Lyari’s tradition has not changed. Lyari has installed more than twenty five screens here and there when the sound of FIFA World Cup is heard.

From Germany to Argentina, every country’s flag and every team’s shirt is visible. Pictures of Pele, Ronaldinho, Roberto Carlos, Messi and Ronaldo have appeared on the walls. Also missing his old footballers, who looked like the Brazilian players. It was their passion, which made Lyari a small Brazil.

Did I not say that the energy of Lyari is probably different from the rest of the world. Let’s see, whether it’s cricket or football in the world, there are usually separate teams for men and women. Lyari is the point on this planet where boys and girls play together in a football team.

Here the entry into the team is not based on gender, it is based on merit. Maikan Baloch, an emerging footballer from Lyari, is a part of this team. She says that drugs and guns were never her identity. After knowledge and hard work, his recognition is this football.

Lyari’s eyes now have deep dark circles, but dreams still shine in those eyes. A dream of little Greece in one eye, a dream of little Brazil in the other.

Note: Opinions expressed in any DW Urdu blog, comment or column are the personal opinions of the author, with which DW does not necessarily agree.

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