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Public and private control and contestation of public space amid violent conflict in Karachi

Few cities in South Asia have been affected by violence more than Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city and economic centre. This working paper examines the impacts of the city’s declining security situation on the control and contestation of public space. It focuses specifically on the efforts of public and private actors to protect themselves through the widespread use of physical barriers as a form of conflict infrastructure.

To help provide a way forward, recommendations are presented for planning and managing barriers more effectively and equitably, and for supporting alternative means of security for the poorest and most insecure groups. Particular attention is paid to the city’s ethnic and religious/sectarian politics and the limited capacity of the authorities, and their difficulties in maintaining neutrality in attempting to intervene.

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IIED has collaborated with partners to look at urbanisation in Karachi.

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Focus on urbanisation issues in Karachi