Whether you think of Lyari as Karachi’s Harlem or Harlem as a Lyari in New York, for Noon Meem Danish places provide a context but not a definition. ‘I am what I am’; he explains his signature with a characteristic mixture of pride and humility. Off-beat and defiant, he was a familiar figure in the literary landscape of the ’70s and ’80s. His poems expressing solidarity with the Negritude and the plight of blacks all over the world were referred to in Dr Firoze Ahmed’s social topography of the African-descent inhabitants of Pakistan. Karachi’s poet Noon Meem Danish now makes his home in the New York state of mind, and feels that he is very much in his element there. (link)
Lyari, one learns, is a town in/near Karachi where many of Karachi's Africans (an estimated 500,000 of them) live. Their ancestors came to Balochistan as slaves via Arab traders (Noon Meem Danish defines himself ethnically as "Baloch," which was confusing to me until I made the connection).
The Afro-Pakistani community, perhaps not surprisingly, hasn't been treated particularly well, according to this essay in SAMAR magazine (skip down towards the end for some disturbing references to the extra-judicial killing of African youths). It's not surprising that Noon Meem Danish, given his penchant for poetry, would consider leaving.
Danish is pretty forthright about the difference in how he is perceived in Karachi vs. New York:
More than home, Karachi was for him the city of the torment of recognition. ‘I was black and in Karachi it was always a shocking experience when people would ask me where I came from. They would ask how come you are speaking saaf Urdu. I had to explain myself each time.’
Karachi University wouldn't hire him, but NYU did, and now he teaches at the University of Maryland (where he teaches in the foreign language department -- Urdu, I presume). It's interesting to think of someone of African descent emigrating to the U.S. because it's less racist than the place where he grew up, but there you have it.
You can see Noon Meem Danish reciting at a Mushaira on YouTube (he's at 2:30).