Injudicious comments by Kursheed Ali Shah, the PPP leader followed by Bilawal’s remarks about MQM have led to controversies. In a quest to score political points, both parties tended to amplify their contribution to Karachi. Both forget that their contribution to Uroos ul Bilaad, the ‘bride of cities’ and ‘city of lights’ is meager.

MQM is a national political party that grew out of the deprivations and injustices meted to segments of Pakistanis. They were marked with social taboos and unchivalrous temperaments. MQM reacted the way any deprived segment of an urban society would; gradually expanded and secured a firm hold in Sindh’s urban areas.

But within this realpolitik, both parties forget that the rapid development and strength of Karachi was built on diversity, in which multi-cultural and multi-religious groups complemented each other to forge a melting pot. The fact that the city is now torn by uncertainty and strife owes much to their divisive agendas. Karachi, a city of opportunity, had something for everyone; The Karachi that was, is not the Karachi that is.

No one can claim exclusivity for building modern Karachi, least of all its modern masters. There was no Pakistan or modern Sindh when the first batch of Baloch and Mekrani fishermen set camp on the shores to call it Mai Kolachi. With local integration, it was renamed Kalochi Jo Goth. In the mid-18th century, the Dutch named it Kurrachee in a dispatch. With Bombay not yet developed, it became the only port of entry to India. The city became a business hub and the East India Company was quick to move in.

In the 19th and 20th century, entrepreneurs and adventurers, amongst them Guajaratis, Parsis, Goan Christians, Anglo Indians, Jews, Arabs, Lebanese, Marathis, Arabs, Chinese and Asians of Uganda debouched for its promise. What remains of the Jews is a single graveyard in a dilapidated condition. These adventurers worked tirelessly as workers, businessmen, developers, administrators, academics, doctors, musicians, soldiers and sportsmen, to give Karachi its diverse culture. In doing so, they also shaped Pakistan by evolving a management and administrative infrastructure that, despite 50 years of mismanagement, still delivers. A glance at the list of names on the Municipal Corporation, Karachi Divisional Council, and Mayors indicates the strength of diversity. Few know that the modern city of Seoul, South Korea, is modeled on Karachi. As Karachi ceded to forces of intolerance, the peaceful and serene city became insecure. The architects fled.

It was after the colonialisation of Karachi that modern development work began. Napier eyed Karachi for its port and agricultural produce of the Indus Basin. Railway lines and roads were constructed to link Karachi up country, while commerce and industry grew. The major workforce comprised Goans.

Two communities that stand out for giving Karachi the face it has, are Parsi businessmen cum philanthropists and the Goan Christians. Parsis made a big contribution with their handsome donations, investments and social centers. Goans followed with their skilled manpower and organizational ability. As the city fell victim to lawlessness, the Parsis mostly left, leaving behind them deserted infrastructures vulnerable to property mafias.  The majority of Goans and Anglo Pakistanis have also migrated. Those who remain, cling together in closely knit communities and love being Pakistanis in a city elders relate, owes them their sweat and blood. They are active members of expatriate Pakistani communities the world over. Living abroad, they feast with Sindi Baryani, tikkas and kebabs. A Goan settled in Margarita, Venezuela has named his house ‘Pakistan.’

During the turmoil of partition in 1947, it was the Goans and Parsis that held the city together. The Hindus left and migrants poured in. The majority of health care, educational and civic facilities were run by these two communities. According to Menin Rodriguez, a Goan historian, “Goans in particular were in the limelight of everything, from municipality to customs, judiciary to policing, sports, music and stage-plays to ballroom dancing, and of course cuisine. Goan cooks were favorites at British and Parsi homes, and at other foreign missions. Karachi, the capital of Pakistan, was a beautiful model city of a fledgling country.”

Frank D’Souza, a member of the Railway Board of India set up Pakistan Western Railways on the request of Qaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Cincinnatus D’Abreo, a remarkable Goan ‘founder of modern Sindh’ established the city’s first township, called ‘Cincinnatus Town’ (now Garden East). Post partition, Karachi’s first elected Mayor was Manuel Misquita. As Terrance D’Souza recalled, he accompanied his Father and Mr. Misquita to St. Patrick’s Cathedral where Qaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah joined them in thanksgiving prayers for Pakistan.

Though Mr. Ahmad G. Chagla is credited for the composition of Pakistan’s National Anthem written by Hafeez Jullandari, few know that the actual scores and compositions were done by Chagla’s close Goan friend Tollentine Fonseca. Tollentine was a bandmaster in the Pakistan Navy who wrote the scores of each instrument in a blend of Waltz and eastern music. The Officers March, Dewan-e-Khas and Barcelona Waltz played by the brass bands of Pakistan’s armed forces are also his compositions.

In sports, O.B. Nazareth wrote the first constitution of the Hockey Federation of Pakistan. Milton D’Mello represented Pakistan in the 1948 London Olympics as did the brilliant forward Jack Britto at the Helsinki Olympics of 1952. Mathais Wallis, Antao D’Souza and Duncan Sharpe played test cricket for Pakistan. Michael Rodrigues, a general/ vascular and cancer surgeon was a National Boys Singles Table Tennis Champion for three years. Mennen Soares played for Pakistan in the All-England Thomas Cup World Championships in the 1950s. John Permal was Pakistan’s champion sprinter from 1964 to 1974. Raymond Brinksworth dominated the hurdles. Rose brothers Clyde, Nigel, Kevin and Brian were national boxing champions in their weights and represented Pakistan.

Goans have distinguished themselves in services. Christian fighter pilots form the single largest bulk of gallantry awards and martyrdom in PAF. Pinto Hall at the Military Apprentice School at Barian Murree stands out as the commemoration of a great Goan soldier. It was Colonel William Waterfield, the legendary adjutant of PMA, whose guns silenced the Indians at Lahore in 1971. Goan officers remained the backbone of the Pakistan Navy for a long time. Names like Gardner, Niblet, Snell and D’Souza are legendary in Pakistan’s Police Service. In the judiciary, Charles and William Lobo, Pinto and Justice Cornelius are familiar names.

As Goan Pakistanis continue to serve the country in obscurity, who can forget the Late Bishop Anthony Lobo of Islamabad- Rawalpindi, who was awarded the Presidential Pride of Performance for services in the field of education. Not only Karachi, but also the country needs to recognize the services of this great community.

n    Brigadier (Retired) Samson Simon Sharaf is a political economist and a television anchorperson.