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Karachi shipbuilders waiting for tide that lifts their boats higher

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Muhammad Khan, a resident of Machar Colony — a coastal town tied to the shipbuilding industry for a long time — was only 15 when he joined the boatyard, where new seafaring vessels are built from keel to the mast and old ones, including modern-day launches, are brought in for all kinds of repairs.

“Shipbuilding is a craft as old as Hazrat Noah (AS),” he tells Geo.tv, “Our elders chose this profession many decades ago and we are following in their footsteps.”

A variety of seafaring vessels are constructed at this boatyard. These include ships, boats, launches, and even fishing trawlers. However, almost everything involved in getting these ships up from the ground and into the sea is done by hand.

“We are deeply disappointed in the government for not providing the requisite facilities to shipbuilders, even the injured workers. Because of this, many skilled workers have given up on their craft and taken up new lines of work,” laments Khan.

According to him, this business is not even registered due to which the workers have to face problems.

However, Karachi’s boatbuilders take all these challenges in stride and do not let themselves be daunted by the vagaries of the times.

Boatmakers working on seafaring vessels in Karachi. — Facebook screengrab/Geo Digital
Boatmakers working on seafaring vessels in Karachi. — Facebook screengrab/Geo Digital

The unmatched skill of these artisans is reflected in the fact that while shipbuilding across the world is done with the help of boat-building plans (blueprints), Karachi’s boatbuilders do not rely on them.

Aoun Ali, another shipwright in the colony, says he was merely 14 when he joined his father in this profession. Despite having a BSc in Mathematics, Aoun chose to follow in his forefathers’ footsteps to make a career out of boat building.

At first, he would make regular boat-building plans. “However, now the skill has improved beyond architecture and engineering. Shipbuilding is second nature to us now and we no longer need blueprints to do it,” he says proudly.

The picture shows boats standing at a boatyard in Karachi. — Facebook screengrab/Geo Digital
The picture shows boats standing at a boatyard in Karachi. — Facebook screengrab/Geo Digital 

That is not to say the shipbuilders have entirely discarded the use of blueprints. Aoun says that if any official organisation commissions any work, the builders use plans. “For instance,” he adds, “we prepared boats for Karachi Port, which we worked on using boat-building plans given to us by the institution. It’s just that our shipbuilders are not dependent on maps and can do their work skillfully without having to use too.”

Speaking on the matter of the types of wood used in the process, Aoun informs Geo.tv that initially Burma teak wood from Burma was used in shipbuilding.

“However, after it became expensive, we began to use pine wood from Malaysia. When that too became too costly, we began to import wood from Congo for the hull of the ship, and local wood for its structure.”

For all their skills, the shipbuilders do not shy away from admitting that the real challenge in the whole process is wood cutting, which is the most crucial and dangerous part of the profession.

Karachi shipbuilders waiting for tide that lifts their boats higher

Manzoor Ahmed, another worker in the Colony, has spent a large part of his youth chopping wood in the yard. He says that the first time he saw the cutting of wood, he was stunned and wondered how he would handle the wood’s weight. “But when a person sets his mind to a task,” he chuckles, “Allah gives him the courage.”

He says that when the wood breaks, like a bare sword it can hit any part of the body. “But after years of experience, we are not afraid anymore.”

However, Manzoor highlights how the rising inflation has affected the livelihood of these builders. “In my early days, I worked as a helper for Rs600 a week … now the labourers are paid Rs6,000 a week in the boatyard,” he reflects.

However, shipbuilding is merely one aspect of their job. At the end of the day, the sea is everything to these shipbuilders: friend, comrade, and enemy. As soon as the water level rises, these shipbuilders push their creations into the ocean, hoping that God will protect them and their handiwork.

The picture shows boats being built at a boatyard in Karachi. — Facebook screengrab/Geo Digital
The picture shows boats being built at a boatyard in Karachi. — Facebook screengrab/Geo Digital 

After the launches are ready, they are brought to the shore with the help of cranes. From here, Javed Hashmi and his team take over. A crew of 20 to 25 people works to launch the ships into the ocean.

Hashmi too has been associated with this work since his childhood. His lifelong experience as a seaman allows him to deeply understand the immensity as well as the profundity of the ocean.

“The seawater rises on the first and fifteenth days of the moon,” he informs Geo.tv.

“As soon as the water rises,” Hashmi continues, “crew members lower the ship into the sea with the help of a crane and greased planks, which are slid under the vessel while it is still on the shore. Then it is handed over to the sea with the help of two boats.”

Hashmi says that he and his entire crew wait for the water to rise and pray that the ship does not hit the seabed. If the water level is low, the ships get stuck in the seabed and it takes many months to get them out.

The story of these beach-dwelling boatbuilders, carving their living out of the finest of the seaworthy woods, while keeping their ears to the breezy whispers of the whimsical as well as the dreadful ocean, reads like a romance, but in this tale, Adam’s son is not waiting for the descent of a fairy, but for the ascent of the sea.

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Business

Moody’s says the IMF programme will increase Pakistan’s foreign financing.

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Moody’s, a reputable international rating agency, has stated that Pakistan’s chances of acquiring funding will increase as a result of the recent agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which offers dependable sources for that purpose from both friendly countries and international financial institutions.

According to a recent Moody’s analysis on Pakistan’s economy, social unrest and tensions could result from Pakistan’s ongoing inflation. The country’s economic reforms may be hampered by increased taxes and potential changes to the energy tariff, it continued.

Moody’s, on the other hand, agrees that the coalition government headed by Shehbaz Sharif of the PML-N is in danger of failing to secure an election mandate, which may potentially undermine the successful and long-lasting execution of economic reforms.

The government’s capacity to proceed with economic changes may be hampered by societal unrest and poor governance, according to Moody’s.

In order to appease the IMF by fulfilling a prerequisite for authorising a rescue package, the government raised the basic tariff on electricity, which coincided with the most recent increase in fuel prices announced on Monday. This report was released by Moody’s.

Food costs have increased in the nation, where the vast majority is experiencing an unprecedented crisis due to the high cost of living, following the government’s earlier presentation of a budget that included a large increase in income tax for the salaried classes and the implementation of GST on commodities like milk.

The most recent comments were made following Islamabad’s achievement of a staff-level agreement for a $7 billion contract that spans 37 months and is contingent upon final approval by the IMF Executive Board.

It states that Pakistan will need foreign financing totaling about $21 billion in 2024–2025 and $23 billion in 2025–2026, meaning that the country’s present $9.4 billion in reserves won’t be sufficient to cover its needs.

Therefore, according to Moody’s, Pakistan is in an alarming position with regard to its external debt, and the next three to five years will be extremely difficult for the formulation and implementation of policies.

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Base Of bilateral relations: China And Pakistan Reiterate Their Support For CPEC

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China-Pakistan economic corridor is a major project of the Belt and Road Initiative, and both countries have reiterated their commitment to it. It remains a fundamental aspect of their bilateral relations.

Vice Chairman Zhao Chenxin of the National Development and Reform Commission of China and Minister Ahsan Iqbal of Planning and Development met in Beijing, where Ahsan Iqbal made this assurance.

The summit made clear how committed China and Pakistan are to advancing their strategic cooperative partnership in all weather conditions.

The focus of the discussion was on how the CPEC was going, with both parties reviewing project development and discussing how the agreement made at the leadership level will lead to the launch of an enhanced version of the CPEC.

In order to improve trade, connectivity, and socioeconomic growth in the area, they emphasised the need of CPEC projects.

The Ml-I Project, the KKH realignment, and the Sukkur-Hyderabad motorway—the last remaining segment of the Karachi-Peshawar motorway network—were all to be expedited.

Expanding the partnership’s horizons to include technology, innovation, education, connectivity, and renewable energy sources was another topic of discussion.

Specifically in the special economic zones being built under the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation (CPEX), Vice Chairman NDRC emphasised the possibility of China investing more in Pakistan.

In addition to expressing confidence in the ongoing success of the two nations’ collaboration, Zhao Chenxin reiterated China’s support for Pakistan’s development aspirations.

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9th Muharram: Processions Happen Throughout the Nation Today Under Strict Security

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Nineth Muharram: Today, the nation observes the ninth day of Muharram with the appropriate seriousness and respect, honouring the ultimate sacrifice made by Hazrat Imam Hussain (RA) and his followers.

In addition to Tazia and Alam processions being held in certain cities, Majalis will take place in all major and minor cities.

A thorough traffic and security strategy for the ninth day of Ramadan has been finalised by the Islamabad police.

Starting from the Imambargah at G/6-2, the main 9 Muharram al haram procession will travel a predetermined itinerary before ending back at its starting position.

The traffic measures are in place to guarantee the parade proceeds smoothly. General traffic will not be allowed on the route that runs from Fazal Haq Road, Polyclinic, to Kulsoom Plaza.
Today, amid strict security, there are processions across the nation.

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