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Karachi Vice: Life and Death in a Contested City

Samira Shackle

3 February 2022 All day

Karachi. Pakistan’s largest city is a sprawling metropolis of 20 million people. It is a place of political turbulence where those who have power wield it with brutal and partisan force, a place where it pays to have friends in the right places and to avoid making deadly enemies. It is a society where lavish wealth and absolute poverty live side by side, and where the lines between idealism and corruption can quickly blur.

It takes an insider to know what makes Karachi tick, and in this powerful debut, Samira Shackle explores the city of her mother’s birth in the company of a handful of Karachiites. Among them are a committed ambulance driver, an outspoken activist, and a hardened journalist, all of whom find themselves in daily danger.

As their individual experiences unfold, so Shackle tells the bigger story of Karachi over the past decade: a period in which the Taliban arrive in Pakistan, adding to the daily perils for its residents and pushing their city into the international spotlight.

Writing with intimate local knowledge and a global perspective, Shackle paints a nuanced and vivid portrait of one of the most complex, most compelling cities in the world.

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