Building on recent studies that have sought to locate Karachi’s history within multiple geographies, this article analyzes how Karachi’s urban poor became used to prove Karachi’s (and by extension Sindh’s) “economic backwardness.” Most significantly, the question of Sindh’s autonomy was voiced in the institution of the Karachi Municipality, where advocates began deploying Karachi’s poor, their housing conditions, and laboring conditions to contest Karachi’s material and social construction. Using Karachi’s laboring and poor in this way rendered the city’s poor marked by ethnic identity awaiting integration into world commerce rather than laborers in a growing, capitalist, and unequal city. In other words, rather than being seen as effects of capitalist development writ large with the uneven effects that colonial capitalism entailed, the city’s poor were positioned as capitalist development’s future beneficiaries.