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Project July 23, 2023

Pakistan: Drowning Homes, Religious Minorities, and Developmental Priorities



Roads flood following the torrential monsoon rainfall in Lahore, on July 5, 2023. Image by Mishaal Hasan Shirazi. Pakistan, 2023.

In recent years, Pakistan has experienced record-breaking floods. Low-income Hindu and Christian communities are affected disproportionately by the disaster.

As a response to the flooding, Karachi Municipal Corporation started demolishing settlements populated along the natural drains. This demolition resulted in the razing of churches and houses of Hindus and Christians. While Muslim communities were also affected, religious minority communities faced unique challenges. Due to the residential segregation in the country, they could move only to specific areas.

Additionally, due to climate change and poorly planned infrastructure, flooding has increased in the interior Sindh province of the country, causing migration to cities. Religious minority migrants face a similar problem, becoming climate refugees in Pakistan’s cities.

This damage is part of a cycle of destruction that unfolds annually in Pakistan mainly because of the inherently flawed urban planning standards and architecture. Climate refugees have no choice but to move from one poorly planned neighborhood to another.

This project seeks to highlight the nuances of this problem and contains insights from the urban research platform, Karachi Urban Lab alongside Karachi Bachao Tehreek, a movement that seeks justice for those affected by demolition. Additionally, individuals, architects, urban planners, and environmental lawyers were consulted for this project. Pakistan: Drowning Homes, Religious Minorities, and Developmental Priorities seeks to bridge this gap, situating identity politics in the context of urban planning and policy.