As I walked across the blocks of New York, I knew I was in a familiar place? When the tour operator mentioned it was a city full of immigrants- a city I love is the same. When the taxi drivers cursed the pedestrians, flashed lights and blew horns, there was a similarity. When along with Macy’s and Fifth Avenue stores, there were numerous retail outlets offering massive shopping options – some other city had the same! When during the tour of New York uptown, I came across areas dominated by gangs and haunted by violence- reminded I was of another city.
The city that haunted me in New York was Karachi! Back home it torments me.
Listening to the story of how to embed Irish immigrants into the New York Society, the Central Park construction responsibility was handed over to 4,000 Irish immigrants – I wondered as to whether you needed a park like Central Park to make you a peaceful city-to embed the immigrants into your fabric.
As I listened to the story of how in the middle of the Great Depression the Empire State Building was constructed by immigrants of different race, ethical background and religion. I wondered as to whether you needed a visionary leader to inspire construction of something that everyone would own!
I wanted to free myself of Karachi in New York but failed miserably. The history of New York, the gangs of New York, the heroes of New York, the violence of New York everything made me ask my Allah if New York despite its failings was still a vibrant city why not my Karachi. How can it be the pride of Pakistan, the dream of investors, of tourists?
I found the answer standing in front of the statue of Abraham Lincoln.
It asked me does Karachi have selfless leaders who can rise above self interests to convert the diversity of Karachi into its greatest asset rather than a lethal liability.
I looked into its eyes and replied Karachi has some of the best brains I know – some of my best friends – very intelligent business leaders, – the statue looked into my eyes and replied calmly – why do these best brains, why do you and your friends not make Karachi the pride of the world, the New York of the world. Why can you not be the selfless leaders Karachi needs?
I looked away and ran as fast as I could from the statue.