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Sir Henry Bartle Frere

Sir Henry Bartle Frere

Sir Henry Bartle Frere

Founding Father Of Modern Karachi:

(History, Biography and Services in Karachi)

Educated at Hailey bury, the conventional public school for colonial bureaucrats, Sir Henry Bartle Frere joined the Indian civil service in 1834 and was chief commissioner of Sindh during 1850-59. The post conveyed massive powers, because Sindh had been combined with Bombay presidency after Napier, but was too detached to be administrated from there. The commissioner was consequently given simulated gubernatorial control. In Sindh, the energetic and creative Frere initiated one of the most remarkable revolutionary periods of administration seen anywhere in world.


Although he was greatly handicapped by economic limitations, Sir Henry Bartle Frere was able to translate Napier’s dream into reality, which he did successfully in some areas such as development. He laid down the structure for modern Sindh and administrative infrastructure for the city of Karachi. To create economic strength in the province, he constructed Railways, canals, and metallic roads. He founded the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC), made significant improvements to Karachi harbor and initiated the first postal system in subcontinent, The Horse Oak. He paid considerable attention to education. He setup a network of Vernacular Schools, English schools that later adopted throughout subcontinent. He also provided funds and lands to locals to establish educational institutions in Sindh as his firm beliefs were to get change via education. He amended some of Napier’s policies governing the feudal, rooting out of injustice and ensuring the loyalty of important chieftains to the British crown to ensure the peace.


As a result, Sindh remained quite during the revolution. In fact Frere’s land settlement in Sindh may be said to have proceeded and anticipated the post Revolt policies of Canning towards the Taluqdars of Oudh.

To further protect the province and safeguard the Bolan Pass,he garrisoned Quetta, long before it founded as an important military outpost in 1877. Frere’s nine years in Sindh earned him a Knighthood. Many Karachi landmarks continue to bear his name i.e. Frere Road, Merewether Tower, Sindh Medarshatul Islam, D.J. Science College, Empress Market, Eduljee Dinshaw Clinic, lady Dufferen Hospital, Frere Hall, Railways in subcontinent.

He went on to a very prominent career in subcontinent.He joined the Viceroy’s council in Calcutta from 1859-62, was governor of Bombay for five years and in 1867 returned to England as a member of The India Council. For the next ten years he worried himself with the improvement of subcontinent in the field of agriculture and communications.

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Residents of Karachi can never forget his services to modernize Karachi and whenever the Karachi’s history will be written it will be incomplete without Sir Henry Bartle Frere’s name.

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