Karachi’s Unknown Dead

lawarisEach year, approximately 3000 unidentified corpses are found on the streets of Karachi, an ever-expanding mega-city in southern Pakistan. Sometimes they are drug addicts or migrant workers who came to the big city in search of a better life; sometimes they are the victims of the sectarian clashes or gang violence that give Karachi its reputation for violence. In this tightly packed city of over 21 million people, some get lost amongst the heaving mass of brick and bodies, ending up destitute and alone. They are lawaris: without an owner.

My first documentary project focuses on the people who care for these unidentified dead bodies, trying their best to find their families and restore dignity in death. I co-produced the film, along with my friend and frequent collaborator Haya Fatima Iqbal, and it was directed by my partner Owen Kean. The film was made possible by a grant from ScreenCraft and BondIt Media, and it was subsequently acquired by Vice.

The film aired on Vice back in August 2019, and astonishingly, it has since been watched almost half a million times on YouTube. It’s shortlisted for a One World Media Award.

You can watch the whole thing here:

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