A few days back I asked people to take a guess at which city this photo was taken in. I only got one response (weep), but it touches on an interesting subject so I've quoted it below, followed by my reply. Says Mr Anon:
I thought it was one of Pakistan’s more liberal cities because I assumed that was a church steeple in the background but on closer look it seems to be a Victorian style clock tower – either way I’d imagine that in one of Pakistan’s really conservative cities there’d be attempts to cover (or blow) it up.
The city in question is actually Karachi. I don't really know what exactly makes a city "conservative" or "liberal", but Karachi is one that would fit in both or neither of those boxes. On the one hand it is the most modern, and most commercial (more billboards than New York) city in the country. You can go to underground parties where the girls are dancing in very skimpy outfits, and drugs and alcohol float around freely. On the other hand Karachi is also home to a wide variety of religious organizations, including conservative militant ones. It was also the place where Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and murdered, not coincidentally.
These two extremes in Karachi feed off of each other. Youths who are sick and tired of being told what to do and not to do by the mullahs often reject Islam completely, except in name. At the other end, youths who are put off by the extreme materialism of Karachi, and the constant hammering of American culture through satellite TV often turn to religion, and sometimes militant Islamism. After visiting Karachi it becomes easier to understand when Olivier Roy says that Islamism is very much a product of modernism, not a reaction to it. It is not surprising then that several of the foreign Al-Qaeda militants captured in Karachi were actually being given refuge by some residents of the city's most posh and elite district.
Finally, I should let you know that there are many beautiful churches and cathedrals left by the British in most of Pakistan's cities. Certainly, there have been a number of disgraceful attacks on churches in Pakistan, but for the most part these buildings remain intact and visible.