The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt


KARACHI, Pakistan, Friday—The flight from Lydda, Israel, to Karachi was begun while it still was almost dark. But as light dawned we saw the Dead Sea below us and then the desert and, after a long time the Persian Gulf. The colors of the sunrise were beautiful.

At 3:30 in the afternoon we circled Karachi and it looked like a city built right on the sands but the port is a very fine one. I discovered a little later on that, while Karachi is now the capital of Pakistan, 100 years ago it was a fishing port.

In the course of 100 years great changes come about. In 1853, for instance, the expenses for Karachi's government were 161 rupees, whereas today the expenses are 17,801,824 rupees. Their income in both cases, however, was above their expenditures, so they have been wise from a management standpoint.

Population figures are somewhat startling, however. In 1941 Karachi had 359,492 people; today its population is 1,226,000. I gather these figures are approximate because the sudden rise in 1952 is due to a shift in population since the partition and represents a large number of refugees.

On our arrival at the airport I found Begum Husain Malik, the daughter of the governor-general, there to greet me. Also on hand were a great many members of various women's organizations as well as government officials and our own Embassy representatives.

After shaking hands with everyone we mounted a stand on a decorated camel cart and I heard someone say he hoped no one would frighten the camel! The begum read a message to me from her father and then welcomed me on behalf of the All-Pakistan Women's Association. I answered and then, sitting on the platform, I had a three-minute interview with the press while a battery of cameras recorded every movement we made.

After this reception I spent a short time at the governor-general's house. Then I went with my hostess to the Karachi municipal hall for a civic reception. Here I was welcomed and presented with a silver replica of the beautiful mosque in Lahore and given the freedom of the city. Then I visited Begum Liaquat Ali Khan, who is president of the All-Pakistan Women's Association but because of her husband's death is still in deep mourning.

At a little after seven in the evening I was back at the governor-general's house and had few minutes in which to dress before leaving for the prime minister's house. There he and I were photographed together with his sons and then I went to visit his wife and some other members of his family. These ladies do not come to mixed gatherings but we had a pleasant chat and I returned to meet some government ministers at dinner.

I had interesting talks with some of those interested in economic developments and with the Minister of Health, whose problem seemed almost insoluble, and with the Minister for Refugees, who frankly said if it were not for the spirit of the people that his problem would be completely insoluble.

As I see some things that are being done in an attempt to meet these various problems I will tell you more about them. While a different kind of refugee problem, this is quite evidently a larger and more difficult one to solve than those faced in other parts of the world. Strictly speaking, of course, these people simply are displaced persons who have chosen to leave one area in order to be with people of their own religion and who are recognized as citizens in Pakistan. This does change their status but not the difficulties in caring for them.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Karachi (Pakistan) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, February 23, 1952

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.