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Karachi’s invaluable Parsi connection

When one dreams of an ideal society where everyone is looked after by the community itself and not just the State alone; a society, where the privileged use their resources to provide for the poor and the unfortunate, one only needs to look at the Parsi community of Pakistan to see these principles at play. Of course the Parsis have their problems like any other community, but even so, they are very good at dealing with them, and when they can’t they simply make the best of what they have in hand.

The Parsi community of Karachi is an ageing one. Of the 1800 Parsis who reside in the city, about 60 percent are over 60 years of age. During the last five to eight years, a number of younger Parsis, along with their families but without their ageing parents have opted to leave Karachi in search of better opportunities in countries like Australia, Canada and the United States. Furthermore, because the community as a whole is affluent with a literacy rate of 100 percent, an average Parsi lives to be about 90 years old, which comparatively, far exceeds the life span of an average resident of Karachi. This could account for the reason as to why the elderly dominate the Parsi population in the city today.

Despite a dearth in the population of young Parsis, the elderly are well looked after and provided for by the entire community. During the early 1900s, various affluent and prominent members of the community gave a hefty portion of their wealth for the establishment of community housing and health care. The various donations resulted in the construction of nine Parsi residential colonies in areas such as Mehboodabad, various areas of Saddar and near the Cantt. Station. These residential colonies are home to majority of the Parsis, rich, poor, young and old, with only about 400 living elsewhere in the city. The rent required is a token and very nominal amount and the maintenance of the residential colonies is taken care of by the various wealthy Parsi families. Also established within each colony are community centers designed to engage the residents in various social, recreational and welfare activities. And of course, health care has long been a part of the incredible Parsi community agenda.

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