The Walled Street Journal

The Walled Street Journal

Life inside a gated community

BY EMA ANIS

Look at advertisements of gated communities, and you’ll see the promise of not just a home but heaven: a complete privileged, upper-class and secure lifestyle. But while this lifestyle seems ideal, there are larger insidious issues the physical barriers erected by gated communities are creating – both within minds of the people as well as on the social fabric of our cities.

In this project, I examine the rise of private gated communities in Pakistan and bring to light the neoliberal realities by documenting one of the most allegedly luxurious gated communities –i.e., Bahria Town, Lahore.

Bahria Town, despite being notorious in reputation for its architectural horrors and land grab controversies, continues to attract people in hordes. But what is the bitter truth hiding behind the walls of the gated community?

One of the most alarming aspects of neo-liberalism is how it takes away power from the state – the one that allows it to question the influential, to hold it accountable, or to rein it back in if it crosses the line. And with this weakened state, powerful private entities are getting leeway in exercising whatever ills they desire. The state is then reduced to only exercise its power and impose strict control on those who lie at the bottom ring of the ladder in the society.

Gated communities have emerged as new spaces of neo-liberalism, taking away key responsibilities of the state and handing them over to those who can afford through private means, consequently creating a further classist society and a mindset that encourages the abandonment of the state.

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