Karachi’s recent ranking on The Economist Intelligence Unit Index as one of the world’s least liveable cities only confirms what the people of Karachi have known and suffered for a long time. Despite the city’s importance as the country’s primary economic hub for trade and investment, Karachi has been the victim of chronic negligence and poor governance. Although the law and order situation has improved in recent months, violence has been a hallmark of everyday life for the people of Karachi. Renowned economist, the late Dr Mahbubul Haq stated, “Economic advancement in the city has been curtailed by conflict along ethnic and sectarian lines, however the roots of such conflict have more to do with dysfunctional urban development than simply, ethnicity and religion. The social and economic division of the city into planned and unplanned areas, the competition over resources and public services and the interplay between political parties and interest groups have tainted the city to a considerable degree.” Dr Haq’s observations about the damaging consequences of “dysfunctional urban development” highlights the importance addressing Karachi’s civic issues, particularly as the city’s population continues to swell inexorably. The coastal city of Jeddah provides an interesting benchmark. Jeddah too suffered the ravages caused by an overwhelming surge in population, outdated infrastructure and a lack of planning. Like Karachi, Jeddah would suffer from water shortages as well as devastating floods. In the 1970s, the city’s administration embarked on a project of major urban renewal led by its dynamic mayor Mohamed Said Farsi. In addition to providing basic new infrastructure, sufficient water, electricity, sewage disposal and telecommunications services, Jeddah was beautified through the development of parks and green spaces. Art works were installed throughout the city to create a virtual open-air art museum. This was called the Jeddah Beautification Project and has led to the city being recognised internationally as a leading hub for art and design. Unregulated and speculative construction continues ceaselessly in Karachi. This along with a dilapidated infrastructure, high pollution levels, inadequate sanitation and unreliable water and power supply has marred the lives of the city’s residents Given Karachi’s wealth of creative talent, the same feat can be achieved as in Jeddah. Karachi’s problems can be overcome as master plans have been drawn up but have failed to be implemented. The city’s leading architects and urban planners like Arif Hasan have formulated road maps envisioning the way forward for Karachi A lack of urban planning has left Karachi prey to haphazard and unsightly expansion. Today, unregulated speculative construction continues ceaselessly. This along with dilapidated infrastructure, high pollution levels, inadequate sanitation and unreliable water and power supply has marred the lives of the city’s estimated 20 million residents. In October 2016 Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah announced the Karachi Liveable Improvement Project to restore the city’s rundown heritage buildings. Primarily funded by the World Bank, the project also promises to build pedestrian access ways, roads and parks. As the late Dr Mahbubul Haq highlighted, communities supported by well-designed public spaces are better positioned to harness social problems such as crime. As a city that provides a quarter of the nation’s GDP, Karachi must be afforded greater priority. The writer is the founding editor of Blue Chip magazine. She tweets @MashaalGauhar Published in Daily Times, August 24th 2017.