An unlikely hero for a fishing village on Karachi's outskirts

Story by: Azhar Khan

Photography by: Pyar Ali

KARACHI: Syed Mustafa Kamal – a former Karachi mayor – may have been a forgotten political hotshot, but for dwellers of scenic Mubarak Village he is still a ‘superhero’.

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The village – home to around 4,000 people – located 30 kilometers from Karachi certainly fascinates the outsiders or those making it to the captivating beach, but unrelenting hardscrabble life of the locals and continuous lip-service from the ones sitting at the helm of affairs has sent villagers into utter reminiscence about Mr. Kamal.

Poor local children having a meal provided by the picnickers at the village beach.

The houses in the village are mostly made from cardboard boxes, plywood and corrugated metal. The government had started a project to provide electricity to the village in 2009 but the project is now in limbo with no hope in sight for redressal of plights of the locals.

The dwellers neither have a clean drinking water nor electricity and the hapless life goes on.

During a visit, this scribe met a number of villagers and inquired about their means of survival in the abject poverty. They responded in despair to the challenges of life devoid of basic necessities in the village but they never fell short of praise for the former mayor.
One of the dwellers – a senior government teacher at Government Higher Secondary School for Boys and Girls and a born Sindhi – Abdul Sattar had much to talk about hard living conditions in his suburb.      

Fear on camera initially had an informal conversation with him and he was free-flowing in stating facts from impoverished life to political involvement in the area.

However, he turned a little bit evasive when questioned on the camera. Yet, he deftly responded to all the queries by making sure he doesn’t get controversial in any of his answers.

‘Mustafa Kamal is our hero’

Before he had no eyes of the camera facing him, Sattar bluntly begun his talk by extolling Mustafa Kamal for “his dedicated works and services for the village”. “He was the man who provided us jobs and built infrastructure and roads here.”

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It was his tenure when some of our male dwellers were appointed lifeguards at Mubarak Village beach while scores of others got vocations at the local high school, he maintained.
In his conversation, he also praised the MQM and said it was a party of educated segment.

Former mayor Karachi Syed Mustafa Kamal inaugurating 48-kilometre Mubarak Village-Hub River Road on December 16, 2007.

But his remarks didnt suggest that the PPP was in good books of the villagers. They [PPP leaders] only resort to lip-service and never materialized their promises for development of the village.
He recalled that the PPP established a dispensary at the village but it had no doctors since day one. “Let me share that scores of girls have died here in delivery cases as we have no doctors to look after such cases. We take our girls to the city in emergency and they die on the way.”
He became more careful while answering such queries before the camera and fended off being too critical of the PPP.
Another villager, who was posted as lifeguard at the beach, named Riaz says “life is not easy here”.

Riaz, a lifeguard who also works as a fisherman to meet his livelihood at the Mubarak Village.

“We are paid remuneration, but not when the season is off and there is no fishing.”
He also was not hesitant to heap praise on Mr. Kamal. “He gave us jobs and paid heed to the miserable living conditions in the area. No other representative cared for us like Mustafa Kamal did,” he plainly stated.
One more local man, Sheraz, who spoke to said he was in the village since his childhood and “I never saw any government leader coming here to listen to our problems.”
Our good source of livelihood is also dependent on visitors like you, he underlined, saying we rented out wooden-made makeshift huts to visitors and they pay us amount varying from Rs 500 to Rs 2000. “But it becomes challenging for us when the sea is rough and there are no visitors. We also cant go fishing during that period.”
We have become habitual of facing challenges and just going by it. But, he said, “we are also humans and how long our generations will continue to live such a miserable life?”.



The government earns billions of rupees from the fishing sector, but continuous neglect of fishermen community of one of the important fishing villages is a reason to worry.


Mubarak Village is the second largest fishermen village in Karachi.
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