The city that used to be considered “the city of lights” has become “the city of stress” in a matter of a few years. Karachi was undoubtedly “the city of lights” only a few decades ago, especially during the decades of the 1960s and 1970s when the city had a vibrant life, but that is no longer the case. A recent study, commissioned by a reputed German well-being company, “VAAY,” has published its annual report on the most stressful urban cities. To no one’s shock, Karachi has been named among the top ten most stressful cities in the world. The report has taken different parameters and indicators that cause stress or contribute to it to enlist and rank the cities from all across the world, such as governance, environment, financial conditions, safety, density, and availability and access to facilities such as healthcare and clean water etc. Amongst the most stressful urban cities, Mumbai, the capital city of Maharashtra state in India, has been rated at the most bottom as the cities are ranked from the least to the most stressful, meaning that the megacity is at rock bottom or 100th position in the whole lot. It’s pertinent to mention here that New Delhi rests at 97th position and Karachi is at number 93, which is slightly better than the two rival cities, but is still dreadful. Of course, it is no honour or pride for any city that has been placed amongst the far end of the list. On the other hand, Iceland’s serene capital, Reykjavik, has topped the list as the least stressful city in the world. It’s worth noting that Iceland was named the second happiest country in the world in March last year, after Finland, which had garnered the top rank four times in a row. The question arises, has Karachi city truly evolved into a substandard city rather than progressing into an elite and high-living standard city over time? One thing is undeniably true: Karachi’s atmosphere and environment have deteriorated in recent years. Although the city was meant to head towards prosperity and development, it has perhaps travelled backwards. For Karachi to extricate itself from this morass of low-standard living, it should focus on the availability of basic facilities. The law and order situation in Karachi has always remained questionable. Sporadic terrorism-related incidents have prompted people to migrate from the city to safer places either in the country or abroad. The rest have lived their lives under the cloud of fear, as any gruesome incident can manifest at any time. People in Karachi have suffered severe trauma, unfortunately. Causes that have precipitated them constitute a list with endless entries, prominently including extortion, street crimes, terrorism, contaminated water, absence of security, cleanliness, illnesses, and so on. All these factors have immensely contributed to the city’s getting ranked highly on an unwanted list. Ludicrously, this city is counted amongst the country’s heavenly places. However, the irony is it is even no match for the peace-imbued village. Just a sole and meagre difference lie between the both are one has an abundance of facilities and the other has moderately or sometimes it’s devoid of them. To some degree, it’s irrefutably true that the handling and managing of cities with mammoth populations have always been like finding a needle in a haystack. Karachi shelters around 18 million of Pakistan’s whole population alone. It is amongst the world’s three largest cities. Besides, the city is the nucleus of all the activities ranging from industrial to commercial and non-commercial in the country. People from every corner of Pakistan travel to this city in hopes of earning bread and butter for their families and living a sound life. The city is widely known as “the mother of hungry people” and, unarguably, it lives up to the honour. This is why the city is the most densely populated in the country. According to the report of “24/7 Tempo” constituted with the help of data from “Citymayors Statistics,” a global source that provides statistics about urban cities, Karachi is the third-most densely populated city with a population density rate of 49,000 per square mile, after Mumbai and Kolkata, Indian urban cities, which are on the first and second ranks, respectively. This gigantic population that inhabited Karachi itself is the unparalleled reason for the city’s being fraught with endless fiascos. The fact that Mumbai is ranked top in both lists of the most densely populated city and the most stressful urban city substantiates the conjecture of correlation between the two indicators. Aside from population, another conspicuous cause that can be attributed to the contributor of stress in the city is unquestionably safety and security. Karachi has been on the radar of inimical actors for a long time. It has been a great victim of terrorism, which has always ensued fear, feelings of insecurity, health concerns, etc. Prolonged electricity outages, although a less serious cause, cannot be ignored by any means. They have also been traumatising indigenous residents of Karachi. It is mostly trivialized and understood to not be very severe. However, people’s lives have become hugely dependent on electricity. Power outages cause unimaginable harm, ranging from disruption to distress. It wouldn’t be incorrect to say that power outages paralyse humans. However, progress has been made to ward off this problem and ensure no load shedding. Nevertheless, the matter persists, but at a lower rate. For Karachi to extricate itself from this morass of low-standard living and a stressful environment, which is indeed not a matter of days but years, it should focus on the availability of basic facilities such as ensuring no electricity outages and uncontaminated water, bolstering safety measures, restoring people’s trust, providing more employment sources, etc. It’s not like waving a magic wand and these things will come into their right place. It will take time for these things to prevail and flourish. It is, however, not impossible to be done. The local and federal governments pay due attention to the woes of the city and leave no stone unturned to address them. Furthermore, substantive utilisation of the budget that is allocated to the city is imperative and essential for it to stride upward from woebegone to wishful lot in this list. Every year, billions of rupees are allocated to Karachi’s development. However, there’s not been any satisfactory development and advancement in the city, jestingly, unless we count the fearsome trend of rearing pets dogs that are attacking citizens in the city. Many indicators have consistently declined rather than improved, leaving one to wonder whether the city will ever catch up to cities such as Reykjavik (Iceland), Bern (Switzerland), and Helsinki (Finland)-these three cities are top-ranked in the least stressful cities in the world- let alone surpassing them. The writer is a freelance columnist.