We were in our late 20s and too young to fraternise with our seniors in the good old days of Karachi.

Our weekends were spent doing the more ‘Desi’ things. Weedo, the Chocolate Hero of the 60s, the talented maestro, Sohail Rana, with his harmonium, Vishno and his clay muttkas, JAK and his brother, Max, with his guitar, my sisters, Mumtaz and myself, would spend the weekend going sailing, driving up to Old Clifton, munching hot and spicy Chana Chor Garum and drinking malai wali chai or sitting in the Dome of Khotari Parade, singing old songs and playing Dumb Charade.

While Sunday afternoons were spent at the old KRC, under the stern and watchful eyes of my friend Fazal Khan, who was secretary of KRC at that time, and cheering home the winners.

 The Dossas, the Dadas and the Roosis usually had a favourite, which would romp home to the thundering roars of the punters.  Occasionally, a race would be ‘fixed’, with an old mare like the Thanedar limping across the finishing line. There would be howls of protests from the punters, with shouts of FIX and an objection would be lodged with the secretary and the stewards.

They would immediately swing into action, a red flag would be hoisted, an on the spot inquiry held, the winner disqualified, the jockey punished, the race declared null and void and the bookies would refund all bets. The next day, the headlines in the Karachi eveningers would be, ‘Thanedar wins boat race’ and the matter was forgotten.

The KRC was well known for its annual Quaid-e-Azam Gold Cup on 25th December, while the LRC for its Derby. Both were events not to be missed and extremely popular with the punters.

The country’s ‘who’s who’ would be there, the men in their silk cravats and straw hats and their ladies in the latest fashions, with oversize designer sun glasses, handbags and chapeaus from Paris.

We did not graduate to the hallowed ballrooms of Karachi until the 70s and by that time, the seniors had moved on. The hipster sari, with a thin, gold chain around a slender waist, replaced the old graceful saris and bell-bottoms, flashy jackets and long sideburns had replaced the smart tuxedos and bow ties. And the foreign bands were replaced by a number of emerging local bands and rock n roll and the jive had become the rage and the revellers, like the music had become louder and shriller.

And New Year’s Eve in Karachi was also an event not to be missed. There were no ugly containers on the roads to block revellers from driving to the beach or thugs to force the hotels to close their doors.

They would be packed to capacity and Karachiites celebrated New Year’s Eve with the rest of the world, dancing in the streets, wearing silly hats and blowing noisy bugles. Our usual routine at the end of such a night would be to drive over to the restaurants near Light House Cinema and enjoy their finger-licking, finger sticking payas with hot nans, followed by masalewali chai.

Those were certainly the good old days of Karachi, a vibrant and exciting city and as Anjum Niaz had written in her article several weeks back, ‘What happened in Karachi, stayed in Karachi’.

However, these days, it is a different story and whatever happens in Karachi, is flashed across the world within minutes. And unfortunately, the news is not good or about the Golden Years of this Jewel, but about its killing fields and the terror that stalks the darkened streets of this City of Lights. Today we have leaders who do not respect the law or the orders of the judiciary and gun toting youths roaming our streets, willing to kill just for a three thousand rupees cell phone.

Today, we may be a nuclear power, but not the proud nation that we use to be. The entire nation, including our leaders, stands condemned, disgraced and isolated. No nation wants to deal with us, as they do not respect or trust us, for they know that our leaders are prepared to lie, cheat and even kill to satisfy their ego and their thirst for power.

We have become a morally and intellectually corrupt nation and foreigners refuse to visit Pakistan because Karachi has been labelled as one of the most dangerous cities in the world.

Even our once proud army seems to have lost its professionalism and has become a giant conglomerate, more interested in protecting the interests of its officers and its assets, rather than the country. The negative aspect of the good old days was, our judiciary was weak and pliable and used by both, civilian and military governments, to legitimise their unconstitutional and unlawful acts.

And though our present judiciary has taken a strong stand on issues relating to good governance, corruption and accountability, the government, instead of appreciating their efforts, has tried everything in the book to thwart the honourable judges from playing their constitutional role.

This negative and hostile attitude adopted by the government is bound to lead to the clash of the executive and the judiciary, eventually, with disastrous consequences.

And instead of leaders with a vision, we have leaders who have dreams, which they claim come true, the most recent being the dream of Sindh’s Home Minister and the return of the Prodigal Son of Sindh.

The Quaid also had a dream about Pakistan, as a prosperous and tolerant nation, but unfortunately, his dream has been shattered and turned into a nightmare. Today our country has become a pariah in the world community and our cities have become ticking time bombs.  May God save us from the dreamers and fortune-tellers of Pakistan.

PS: Two more moments from our ‘Glorious Past’ were the state visits of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II of GB and Jacqueline Kennedy, the First Lady of America, to Pakistan.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Le5xSRFUOm4&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Ne7_ms0xP4&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQ8JPEW_jnw&feature=related

The visiting dignitaries were driven through the streets of our cities in an open convertible Cadillac and welcomed with cheering crowds and the streets had echoed to the tunes of God Save the Queen and God Save America. But that was in the glorious past.

Let us hope and pray that an end will come to the slaughter of innocent citizens, otherwise our national anthem might be replaced with God save Pakistan.

 (Email: trust@helplinetrust.org.pk).