A pink marble palace sits on a deserted beach here, its wings reaching forlornly toward the Arabian Sea and it's oil-rich sheikhs who now will never play on its rusting roulette wheels.
The Clifton Beach Casino was shut down on the eve of its scheduled opening by Gen. Zia ul Haq, Pakistan's puritan strong man.
In the suburb of Nazimabad, Meena, her 11 girls and eight pimps have been hauled before a military court. Zia's new order hopes to stamp out prostitution and corruption in this nation of about 70 million.
Kaneez Fatima, a Marxist who leads the Karachi shipyard workers, can no longer even visit let alone rouse her dues-payers with stirring addresses on "scientific socialism." Marital law regulation number 12 provides up to three years at hard labor and lashes with a long cane for unwanted union activity.
Zia and a handful of fellow generals now run this country where the 10th and 20th centuries coexist uneasily. They are engaged in a herculean task of erasing millenia of corruption and reversing five years of the capricious socialism impoed by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the prime minister they overthrew last July.
There is little doubt that the generals would like to hang Bhutto in the belief that he alone is responsible for all evil in this poor country. The betting here is that they will , sometime before the holy month of Ramadan begins in August, unless foreign pressure stays the hangman's noose.
Whether Bhutto lives or dies - and only Zia has the answer - dispassionate observers here agree that Bhutto's legacy will not die with him. If he did little to imporve the miserable lot of tens of millions of peasants and workers, he did fire them with a new belief that a ruler can speak for them and against landlords and employers.
Zia tells a visiting reporter he is untroubled by any possible disorders over Bhutto's death. A year ago, as chief of staff, his troops could not put down the violent demonstrations against Bhutto's, outbreaks triggered by Bhutto's blatant rigging of an election he might have won without such tatics.
But now Zia is sure things are different, that he and his officers are in full control. Even Bhutto's staunchest supporters sadly agree.
The generals, colonels and majors make new law every day here in military courts or special tribunals that carefully place an officer alongside an civilian judge.
Every day, the press here, tamed as it was in the time of Bhutto and the generals who preceded him in power reports that another Bhutto follower has been banned from political life for seven years, given a year or more at hard labor and lashed five times for stealing public money, selling licenses to import goods or simply shouting the wrong slogans.
Zim himself estimates that about 600 to 800 Bhutto politicians have been tried or jailed. Zia's estimate can be safely doubled or tripled. The point is that Bhutto's Peoples Party has been effectively smashed so there are no leaders now to organize demonstrations on his behalf.
The new government is sensitive about the Western attention paid to its public hangings and floggings. Zia's chief legal adviser, A.K. Brohi, a subtle and distinguished lawyer, says, "You think we are barbarians."
The formal explanation is that Zia is a devout Moslem and the Koran prescribes exemplary punishment. Brohi, a Koranic scholar, readily acknowledges that texts older that 1,000 years are susceptible to interpretation by Moslem scholars and are not as dogmatic as proclaimed.
"Rough and ready justice is being meted out in an emergency," he says. "Crime has been a paying proposition. Lawlessness has been the rule: You must understand the grammar needed to combat these things. In exceptional times on e must take exceptional measures" against "the nightmarish works of the previous administration."
Is Brohi fearful that public hangings and floggings will brutalize Pakistanis, accustom them to cruelty, destroy respect for human life?
"The onlooker comes to learn, not to see the monkey show," he insists. "This deterrence is effective. It has been responsible for curtailing law-breakers."
Zia and his aides are flooding the country with accounts of Bhutto's misdeeds, his "reign of terror and oppression" as one leaflet describes it. Even Bhutto's allies admit in private that many of the tales are true, that the elegant, Oxford-educated Bhutto spared his landlord friends from land reform laws, had men and women tortured for making slighting remarks and turned the government into a vast patronage and political machine.
Zia refuses to tip his hand but hints strongly that he will show no mercy. "In a criminal case," he told me, "how can you say a prime minister is above the law."
But the governments of Pakistan's most important neighbors - Saudi Arabia and Iran, the two largest aid-givers, and China, a potent check on rival India - have all urged that Bhutto be spared. So has the United States through Abassador Arthur Humme. Zia suggests that he regards these pleas as mere formalities, that the exclusive club of rulers never likes seeing one of its number executed. In fact, Zia and the generals are weighing the foreign advice carefully.
Sometime in mid-July, the hard decision will be made. Zia acknowledges that his biggest problem is getting the "Mr. Bhutto case finalized."
Whatever Zia decides, he is making it increasingly clear that he has no intention of turning power back to politicians or of holding an election soon. He first planned a vote for last Oct. 18. But then it looked as if Bhutto's party might win so that date was scrubbed. More recently, Zia has been hinting he will hold elections at the end of this year. Now, he is known to be thinking of a vote in March or April of 1979.
As Asghar Khan, a former air marshall and perhaps the most distinguished politician not in jail here says:
"Once in power it is very hard to disengage. It is very heady wine."
Zia's aides are talking of "civilianizing" the government, of converting the general into a statesman. Zia insists fervently that he does not want to take off his unform, that he has no political ambitions. But the signs are growing that he is settling in for a long run and will not yield power until circustances compel him.
Apart from the crackdown on civil liberties and political action, the most striking feature of Zia's rule is the rollback of Bhutto's haphazard socialism. The government has given back to their private owners the cotton ginning plants, four mills and rice husking mills that Bhutto nationalized.
The state monopolies in banking, cement and chemicals are being invited to compete. Factory owners, afraid to fire workers in Bhutto's era, are once again free to exercise "discipline."
Workers may not like it but almost any change must improve the economy here. In Bhutto's five years of power, farm and factory output grew less than 3 percent a year, slower than the rise in the number of mouths to feed. Real incomes either stagnated or fell. The big growth sector was the bureaucracy and inflation ran at about 20 percent a year.
Karachi's businessmen are obviously delighted with the change and are in no hurry to bring the politicians back. Mohammed Muzaffar, president of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry, accuses Bhutto of "destroying peace." The former prime minister, he says, told workers and peasants, "The rich people are exploiting you, sucking your blood."
But under Zia, "everybody has to behave. Orderliness was established.Now there is discipline and respect."
So Muzaffar has reopened his own two carpet plants, shut down in Bhutto's time.
Like many businessmen here, Muzaffar hopes Zia willime.
Like many businessmen here, Muzaffar hopes Zia will postpone elections until the atmosphere is normal." Four or five years, he suggests, would be the proper interval.
Many businessmen and bankers then hope Pakistan will adopt a "Turkish model," civilian politicians out front as a facade with the military constantly looking over their shoulders. If Bhutto hangs, it will most certainly concentrate the minds of all politicians here on the generals for a long time to come.