CullmanTimes.com - Cullman, Alabama

National News

March 14, 2013

INTERNATIONAL: Pakistani activist for poor shot dead in Karachi

KARACHI, Pakistan — Gunmen shot and killed a pioneering Pakistani activist in Karachi who helped bring services like sewer and water to the city's poorest neighborhoods, a police official said Thursday.

The killing was a sign of the escalating chaos that has gripped Pakistan's largest city.

Perween Rahman, the director of the Orangi Pilot Project, was on her way home Wednesday night when she was shot and killed by gunmen on a motorcycle, said senior police officer Javed Odho.

She was struck four times in the chest and neck and died on the way to the hospital, he said. Rahman, 54, was an architect who left private practice early in her career to help the poor.

Through her work, she became one of the authority figures on the ever-expanding Karachi and the struggles of millions of poor people who try to eke out a living in some of the most neglected neighborhoods. Friends and colleagues were devastated by her death.

"Anyone trying to understand Karachi would go to her," said Zora Yusuf, who heads the Pakistan Human Rights Commission. "It is very, very depressing, very disturbing."

The Orangi Pilot Project operated in the squatter slums that make up a huge part of Karachi. The innovative project, started in the 1980s, helped residents of those poor communities build their own sewer and water systems.

The port city is a sprawling metropolis of roughly 18 million people.

It is made up of a mish-mash of essentially illegal land settlements where poor people purchased land from developers and built their homes. Few of these settlements have basic services like sewage lines or running water, let alone access to hospitals or schools.

Often the same people that sell the land then sell services like water delivery, and residents have no option but to buy them.

"The government itself has failed in these areas," said Yusuf.

The Orangi project worked with residents to build services. The organization would couple its technical expertise with labor from residents in the affected community to build things like sewer lines and would lobby the government to build a main sewer line that all the other neighborhoods could connect with.

NPR correspondent Steve Inskeep wrote extensively about Rahman and the Orangi project in his book on Karachi, "Instant City: Life and Death in Karachi."

In the book, he described Rahman as a thin, raven-haired woman "with a musical way of talking." He said she was educated as an architect but quickly left the firm she was working at because she wanted to do something that would help local residents.

There was no claim of responsibility for the shooting but Rahman's work had sometimes put her in the middle of dangerous situations in a city where the security situation is deteriorating swiftly. Inskeep described in his book how armed men at one point burst into the project's office.

Rahman had not received any specific threats recently, said Abdul Waheed Khan, a senior program manager at the OPP. But he said the nature of their work often involved challenging various criminal groups — referred to as mafias in Karachi — that control the land or water delivery in these poor areas.

Land and access to it is big business in the city, which has mushroomed from 1947, when its population was 435,000, to at least 18 million now.

With the chaotic growth came an often deadly fight for control of the city's land, because anyone who controls it can make a fortune subdividing and reselling it.

Santana reported from Islamabad.

 

1
Text Only
National News
  • Fort Hood (UPDATED) Officials: 4 dead, including gunman, at Fort Hood

    A gunman opened fire Wednesday at Fort Hood in an attack that left four dead, including the shooter, law enforcement officials said.
    One of the officials, citing official internal U.S. Justice Department updates, said 14 others were hurt. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release information by name.

    April 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • Smartphone kill switches are coming

    Smartphones need kill switches. It's a relatively easy solution to the pricey (and irritating) problem of smartphone theft. But who would have thought that the big carriers would team up with Apple, Google, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung and lots of other manufacturers to voluntarily begin adding the technology by July 2015? The cooperative spirit! It makes so much sense!

    April 18, 2014

  • Consumer spending on health care jumps as Affordable Care Act takes hold

    Nancy Beigel has known since September that she would need hernia surgery. She couldn't afford it on her $11,000 yearly income until she became eligible for Medicaid in January through President Barack Obama's signature health care law.

    April 17, 2014

  • mfp file Hoffner Fired coach unjustly accused of visiting porn sites

    The president of Minnesota State University-Mankato accused a football coach of looking at Internet porn on a work computer before firing him, an arbitrator has revealed. The official said the claim could not be supported, and the coach shouldn't have been fired.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • High School Stabbings 4 students seriously hurt in Pa. school stabbings

    A student armed with a knife went on a stabbing and slashing spree at a high school near Pittsburgh on Wednesday morning, leaving as many as 20 people injured, including four students who suffered serious wounds, authorities said.

    April 9, 2014 2 Photos

  • Obit Ultimate Warrior Former pro wrestler Ultimate Warrior dies at 54

    James Hellwig, better known as former pro wrestler The Ultimate Warrior, has died, the WWE said. He was 54.

    April 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_amazonfiretv.jpg Amazon introduces Fire TV to challenge Apple in living rooms

    Amazon.com Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos is stepping up efforts to win over customers in their living rooms with a $99 TV box for watching digitally delivered shows and movies, challenging Apple's TV device.

    April 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • Washington Mudslide Death toll in Washington mudslide rises to 30

    As medical examiners painstakingly piece together the identities and lives of the 30 people known killed when a mudslide wiped out a small Washington community, one mystery troubles them.

    April 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • APTOPIX Fort Hood Fort Hood gunman sought mental health treatment

    An Iraq War veteran being treated for mental illness was the gunman who opened fire at Fort Hood, killing three people and wounding 16 others before committing suicide, in an attack on the same Texas military base where more than a dozen people were slain in 2009, authorities said.

    April 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • Supreme Court Campaign Big donors may give even more under court’s ruling

    The Supreme Court ruling Wednesday erasing a long-standing limit on campaign donations will allow a small number of very wealthy donors to give even more than is currently the case, according to students of the complex campaign finance system, and could strengthen the establishment in both parties.

    April 2, 2014 1 Photo