A rusty sign covers a window of a dilapidated colonial-era building. The Sindh Cultural Heritage Preservation Act, introduced in 1994, has helped provide legal protection for structures of historical significance. But courts are also busy with cases of developers trying to circumvent such protection.
A residential building, built in the British colonial period, seen in Karachi, Pakistan. When British colonial rulers hastily left South Asia at Pakistan and India’s painful birth in 1947, the ensuing chaos and violence meant little attention was paid to the architecture they’d built or influenced in Pakistan’s biggest city, Karachi.
A rickshaw moves past the Edulji Dinshaw Dispensary in Karachi. More than 70 years later, architectural gems have been torn down and many are either crumbling or under threat from real estate developers in Pakistan’s commercial capital which is mushrooming into a mega-city
Tuscan style pillars stand at the exterior of the Sindh Wildlife department building which was previously the Freemason Hall (Hope Lodge) in the British colonial period.
The structures, weathered by the salty air, open the door to Karachi’s colonial scars, pointing out that many of the original owners were among millions of Muslim and Hindu refugees who fled their homes amid communal and religious violence that accompanied the end of British rule in India in 1947 and the creation of PakistanEvery brick of the heritage building narrates a story of those who left in 1947,” said Akthar Baloch, a researcher who has written several books on Karachi’s heritage. “They built them with love and affection. “When people like me feel bad looking at the neglect of these heritage sites, one wonders how the families of the owners must feel if they ever visit Karachi.”Bamboo scaffolding is fixed to a colonial building. Karachi’s population has skyrocketed to nearly 17 million people in 2017 from an estimated 400,000 at independence, and every inch of the city has become a valuable commodity for developers building homes or drafting plans to alter the city’s skyline with skyscrapers.