All aboard the Super Savari Express: an armed tour bus for crime-ridden Karachi

Maryam Omidi in The Guardian (h/t Chapati Mystery):

E219328a-f7b7-4171-8c04-6dc012132627-1020x612Dubbed “the world’s most violent megacity”, armed muggings, carjackings and extortion are part of everyday life in Karachi, where political and criminal forces vie for ownership of the city. The result is a pervasive sense of fear – one that prevents many Karachiites from even leaving their own neighbourhoods, which are carved along wealth and ethnic lines.

“The culture of driving, and the security issue, disable you from visiting these other places,” says Farzana Mukhtar, an HR consultant. It’s 8am on Sunday, and the places Mukhtar is referring to are the streets of Saddar Town, Karachi’s former colonial centre. In contrast to the mid-week traffic, it is virtually deserted, leaving Mukhtar and his group of camera-wielding tourists to admire the remnants of the city’s colonial architecture and daily life with a sense of wonderment: the few hawkers who have woken early, and the tea shop owners preparing for the breakfast crowd. It’s a scene common to tourist sites everywhere; what’s unusual about this group is that many of them are from Karachi itself, on a tour to explore their own city.

Mukhtar and the group are part of a city bus tour organised by Super Savari Express, the first of its kind in the city. At 2,000 Pakistani rupees per ticket (£13), the tour, which launched late last year, attracts a relatively wealthy clientele: Mukhtar, who lives in Clifton, one of the city’s most affluent neighbourhoods, is typical.

“We have about 30 to 40 people on each tour, and they all know the political situation and the safety situation – and yet they’re here because they’re hungry to see they can explore,” says Atif bin Arif, managing director of Super Savari Express. “These are the same people who fly to the Vatican to see the Sistine Chapel, even though we have beautiful churches here; or go to India to see temples, when we have Hindu temples here.”

Read the rest here.