KARACHI: Ninety-year-old advocate and activist Comrade Rochi Ram told Karachiites that they should not only look towards the city’s problems for it has several privileges too.
In his keynote address to the first session of Saturday, the second day of the Sixth International Karachi Conference, held at the JS Auditorium, IBA, city campus, the senior citizen from Mithi told the audience that compared to the rest of Sindh, particularly his native Tharparkar, Karachi is still a great city to have, though, as he remembered, Karachi was a genuinely great city the first time he came here in 1946.
He remembers Karachi as a very neat and clean city where he had heard the streets were washed every day. Karachi’s port was more beautiful as compared to that of Kolkata, Mumbai, and Chennai. He used the old names of these cities—Calcutta, Bombay, and Madras—the names that existed when he had visited them.
He said he had come to Karachi for his matriculation exam but had to appear in it in Hyderabad. These two, along with Shikarpur were the only cities in Sindh where one could appear in such an exam.
His father had attempted to start his business here in the 1930s but had failed. This has been his most important memory of this city, he shared with the audience.
Rochi Ram pointed out that the wealth of all the province came to Karachi but Karachi’s wealth did not reach out to Sindh. “Karachi has a small heart,” he lamented.
He also pointed out that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor was a great threat to Karachi. “After Gwadar, the CPEC would attack Karachi,” he warned. Karachiites should be prepared for this change, he said.
The founder of the International Karachi Conference, architect Arif Hasan, in his welcome address, introduced Ram by pointing out that he had been an Arya Samaaji and a Congress member in his younger days. Ever since then, he has been an active proponent of human rights. Ram, he said, is a Sindhi nationalist who disagrees with the nationalists because they do not organize the masses.
Hasan also praised Ram for his free-of-cost legal support for human rights cases.