Parveen Rehman on Land, Politics and Violence in Karachi
Image source:

Parveen Rehman on Land, Politics and Violence in Karachi

The assassination of social development worker Parveen Rehman is tragic. It is of course a huge loss for the communities that the Orangi Pilot Project serves. But it is also huge loss for journalists like myself and other researchers whom she was always too happy to help. Her years of experience, made her a treasure of information about the development of Karachi and the problems it is facing.

I recorded one of our interviews in 2011 that I used in this radio report about land and violence in Karachi. I have uploaded the full unedited 47-minute interview, which you can find below. She discusses how conflicts between illegal suppliers of land, patronised by mainstream political parties, are the source of what is often labelled as “ethnic violence”, that has plagued the city. She also discusses a number of personal encounters in the past with these party-backed-thugs because of the location of her office in one of the most volatile neighbourhoods of Karachi.

In her view, it was important not to show the thugs that you were afraid. In one of the encounters, a group of thugs sought to occupy the OPP office compound where she worked. She recalled in the interview:

We said, “All that you can do is kill us. What else can you do? We’re not afraid of you.”

After her murder, all of the main political parties in the city – the MQM, ANP and PPP included – publicly condemned the killing and were quick to hail her as a hero and martyr of Karachi. Ironically, if you listen to the interview below, Parveen Rehman explicitly named these parties as being patrons of the “land mafia” thugs that are the source of so much violence in the city.


The unedited audio of my interview is below, along with a transcription graciously provided by Fizzah Sajjad.

To view the transcription in a separate window, click on this link.