Growing Urbanization in South Asia
Urbanization is not just a side effect of economic growth; it is an integral part of the process, according to the World Bank. With the robust economic growth averaging 7 percent and availability of millions of new jobs created between 2000 and 2008, there has been increased rural to urban migration in Pakistan to fill the jobs in growing manufacturing and service sectors. The level of urbanization in Pakistan is now the highest in South Asia, and its urban population is likely to equal its rural population by 2030, according to a report titled ‘Life in the City: Pakistan in Focus’, released by the United Nations Population Fund. Pakistan ranks 163 and India at 174 on a list of over 200 countries compiled by Nationmaster.
Pakistan has and continues to urbanize at a faster pace than India. From 1975-1995, Pakistan grew 10% from 25% to 35% urbanized, while India grew 6% from 20% to 26%. From 1995-2025, the UN forecast says Pakistan urbanizing from 35% to 60%, while India's forecast is 26% to 45%. For this year, a little over 40% of Pakistan's population lives in the cities.
The urban population now contributes about three quarters of Pakistan's gross domestic product and almost all of the government revenue. The industrial sector contributes over 27% of the GDP, higher than the 19% contributed by agriculture, with services accounting for the rest of the GDP.
A 2008 report by UN Population Fund says the share of the urban population in Pakistan almost doubled from 17.4 percent in 1951 to 32.5 percent in 1998. The estimated data for 2005 shows the level of urbanization as 35 per cent, and CIA Factbook puts it at 36% in 2008, and it is increasing with 3% of the nation's population migrating to cities every year. With over 5 million rural migrants each year, the population of Pakistani cities in exploding, and Karachi has now becoming the world's largest city, according to Citymayors.com.
India's urban residents in 2008 residents accounts for 29% of its population, and the CIA Fact Book estimates it growing at 2.4% of the total population every year.
An expected positive consequence of the increasing urbanization of society in Pakistan will be the creation of over 100 million strong middle class by 2030. This large urban population will not only create a domestic market for goods and services, but it can create a skilled work force that can be the engine of economic growth and source of innovation.
According to the 1998 census, Sindh is the most urbanized province with 49 percent percent of the population living in urban centers. NWFP is the least urbanized province with only 17 percent of its population living in urban areas.
The shares of urban population in Punjab and Balochistan in 1998 were 31 and 23 percent respectively. There has been a visible narrowing down of the growth rate differentials among provinces, although the urban population in Balochistan and Islamabad has been increasing at higher rates of 5.1 and 5.8 percent respectively.
More than 60 percent of the population of urban Sindh lives in Karachi and this concentration has increased over time. Approximately three-quarters of the total urban population of Sindh are concentrated in just three urban centers: Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukkur. Karachi is growing so fast that estimates of its population range from 12 million to 18 million. The country's financial capital is also a city where about half the population lives in sub-standard housing.
National Public Radio(NPR), an American radio network, did a series recently on a massive wave of urbanization sweeping the world's emerging economies such as Brazil, China, India and Pakistan. It chose to start with Karachi, which it described as Pakistan's "economic lifeline" and financial and industrial "powerhouse" that produces 25% of Pakistan's GDP, and called it "one of the largest and most crowded cities of the world".
In Punjab, 22 percent of the urban population lives in Lahore, and half of the total provincial urban population lives in five large cities.
Peshawar has a population of approximately one million without counting the Afghan refugees, which is 33 percent of the urban provincial population. The share of Quetta in the total urban Balochistan population was 37 percent.
More than half of the total urban population of Pakistan lived in 2005 in eight urban areas: Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi, Multan, Hyderabad, Gujranwala and Peshawar. Between 2000 and 2005, these cities grew at the rate of around 3 percent per year, and it’s projected that this growth rate will continue for the next decade.
Along with increasing internal rural to urban migration, there has also been a wave overseas migration from urban areas in Pakistan to urban centers overseas, especially the Middle East. The Middle East, with its vast oil wealth, has provided many opportunities for overseas workers to work and earn a living building and maintaining infrastructure in various Arab states, especially in the Persian Gulf. In recent years, overseas Pakistanis have been contributing to Pakistan's economy with remittances exceeding $7 billion a year.
There are many benefits of rural to urban migration for migrants' lives, including reduction in abject poverty, empowerment of women, increased access to healthcare and education and other services. Historically, cities have been driving forces in economic and social development. As centers of industry and commerce, cities have long been centers of wealth and power. They also account for a disproportionate share of national income. The World Bank estimates that in the developing world, as much as 80 percent of future economic growth will occur in towns and cities. Nor are the benefits of urbanization solely economic. Urbanization is associated with higher incomes, improved health, higher literacy, and improved quality of life. Other benefits of urban life are less tangible but no less real: access to information, diversity, creativity, and innovation.
At the same time, there are many issues caused by the current wave of urbanization, including the fact that massive increases in urban population create more and larger urban slums, increase the potential for environmental deterioration, and bring tremendous pressures on city services already strained beyond limits. Take sanitation, for example, and it is no surprise that three major South Asian cities, Dhaka, Mumbai and New Delhi, show up on the Mercer's list of world's 25 dirtiest cities. Some non-government organizations, such as the Orangi Pilot Project (OPP) in Karachi, are stepping in to fill the huge gaps left by the municipal authorities. Under OPP guidance, between 1981 and 1993 Orangi residents installed sewers serving 72,070 of 94,122 houses. To achieve this, community members spent more than US$2 million of their own money, and OPP invested about US$150,000 in research and extension of new technologies.
Like any growing megacity in the developing world, Karachi has its share of problems. Pollution, crime, corruption and political volatility are just some of the issues confronting the 12 million to 18 million "Karachiites" who call this overcrowded city home. Karachi is 60 times larger than it was when Pakistan was created in 1947. And with the population growing at an annual rate of 6 percent, one of the biggest challenges for city officials is managing the tensions and violence that often flare along ethnic and religious lines.
In a recent interview with Wall Street Journal, Pakistan's former finance minister Salman Shah explained that "Pakistan has to be part of globalization or you end up with Talibanization". "Until we put these young people into industrialization and services, and off-farm work, they will drift into this negative extremism; there is nothing worse than not having a job," Shah elaborated. But increasing urbanization in South Asia represents both a challenge and an opportunity for India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. It is a challenge because it imposes a rapidly growing burden on the already overcrowded megacities such as Mumbai, Delhi, Dhaka and Karachi. Such a massive challenge will require a tremendous focus on providing housing, transportation, schooling, healthcare, water, power, sanitation and other services at an accelerated pace. But if this challenge can be successfully met, there will be an opportunity to develop the human potential of the rural poor and employ them more productively in the growing industrial and services sectors in the cities. In the case of Pakistan, if the level of robust economic growth, human development and increased urbanization can be sustained to significantly enlarge the South Asian nation's middle class, then there can be hope for genuine and durable democracy to thrive.
UN Population Fund Report 2007
Urbanization Levels of Countries of the World
Eleven Days in Karachi
Karachi: The Urban Frontier
America's Best Run Cities
Urbanization Challenges in Pakistan
World's Dirtiest Cities
Karachi Fourth Cheapest for Expats
UN Population Growth Data
Cities and Environment
Pakistan's Choice: Talibanization or Globalization
Patterns of Urbanization in Pakistan
Are millions of Indians being forced to leave their villages for cities and towns because there aren't enough jobs at home and farm incomes are drying up? Is this "distress migration" unprecedented in India's history?
Award-winning journalist P Sainath thinks so. Examining the latest census data, he finds that India's urban population has risen more (91 million more than in the 2001 census) than the rural population (90.6 million more than in the 2001 census). Nearly half the people in states like Tamil Nadu already live in urban settlements.
The last time, writes Mr Sainath, the rise in India's urban population exceeded the rise of the rural population was 90 years ago and reflected in the 1921 census. The decline in rural population then could be possibly linked to the 1918 flu pandemic that killed several million people.
This time around, Mr Sainath says, the increase in migration is driven by the "collapse of millions of livelihoods in agriculture and its related occupations". He writes that massive migrations "have gone hand-in-hand with a deepening agrarian crisis": more than 240,000 farmers, mostly broken by debt, committed suicide in India between 1995 and 2009.
Mr Sainath has spent a lifetime reporting on distressed farmers and how the poor live in India. He admits that the census is not equipped to examine the complexity of migration in India. In a fast urbanising country, rising migration from villages to cities and towns is natural. Also, newer "urban areas" are being added all the time. The big picture is also not strikingly unusual. According to the census, 31.16% of Indians live in urban areas, up from 27.81% in 2001 - a rate which is actually significantly lower than the rate in many developing countries with similar income levels.
But, argues Mr Sainath, these "natural" factors which triggered migration from villages to cities have been valid in the earlier decades too when additions to the village population actually outstripped those to the cities. So why is the last decade throwing up a radically different result?...
There may be other pressing questions to ponder. How does India cope with its increasing urban population? Its cities are choking under power cuts, scarcity of water and polluted air. Also the increase of new urban settlements with poor amenities and limited access to jobs could easily lead to massive social unrest among the migrants in the new "cities". Which could actually end up wrecking India's cities faster than its villages.
One way to take a city’s economic pulse is to check out where locals shop. In Karachi, Pakistan, shoppers are flocking to Port Grand, which opened in May. Built as a promenade by the historic harbor for almost $23 million, the center caters to Pakistanis eager to indulge themselves. This city of 20 million has seen more than 1,500 deaths from political and sectarian violence from January to August. At Port Grand the only hint of the turmoil is the presence of security details and surveillance cameras. “The whole world is going through a new security environment,” says Shahid Firoz, 61, Port Grand’s developer. “We have to be very conscious of security just as any other significant facility anywhere in the world needs to be.”
Young people stroll the promenade eating burgers and fries and browsing through 60 stores and stalls that sell everything from high fashion to silver bracelets to ice cream. Ornate benches dot a landscaped area around a 150-year-old banyan tree. “Port Grand is something fresh for the city, very aesthetically pleasing and unique,” says Yasmine Ibrahim, a 25-year-old Lebanese American who is helping set up a student affairs office at a new university in Karachi.
One-third of Pakistan’s 170 million people are under the age of 15, which means the leisure business will continue to grow, says Naveed Vakil, head of research at AKD Securities. Per capita income has grown to $1,254 a year in June from $1,073 three years ago.
The appetite for things American is strong despite the rise in tensions between the two allies. Hardee’s opened its first Karachi outlet in September: In the first few days customers waited for hours. It plans to open 10 more restaurants in Pakistan in the next two and a half years, says franchisee Imran Ahmed Khan. U.S. movies are attracting crowds to the recently opened Atrium Cinemas, which would not be out of place in suburban Chicago. Current features include The Adventures of Tintin and the latest Twilight Saga installment. Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol is coming soon. Operator Nadeem Mandviwalla says the cinema industry in Pakistan is growing 30 percent a year.
Exposure to Western lifestyles through cable television and the Internet is raising demand for these goods and services. Pakistan has 20 million Internet users, compared with 133,900 a decade ago, while 25 foreign channels, such as CNN (TWX) and BBC World News, are now available. And for many Pakistanis, reruns of the U.S. sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond are a regular treat.
The bottom line: With per capita income rising quickly, Pakistan is developing a mass market eager for Western goods.
At the edge of India’s greatest slum, Shaikh Mobin’s decrepit shanty is cleaved like a wedding cake, four layers high and sliced down the middle. The missing half has been demolished. What remains appears ready for demolition, too, with temporary walls and a rickety corrugated roof.
Yet inside, carpenters are assembling furniture on the ground floor. One floor up, men are busily cutting and stitching blue jeans. Upstairs from them, workers are crouched over sewing machines, making blouses. And at the top, still more workers are fashioning men’s suits and wedding apparel. One crumbling shanty. Four businesses.
In the labyrinthine slum known as Dharavi are 60,000 structures, many of them shanties, and as many as one million people living and working on a triangle of land barely two-thirds the size of Central Park in Manhattan. Dharavi is one of the world’s most infamous slums, a cliché of Indian misery. It is also a churning hive of workshops with an annual economic output estimated to be $600 million to more than $1 billion.
“This is a parallel economy,” said Mr. Mobin, whose family is involved in several businesses in Dharavi. “In most developed countries, there is only one economy. But in India, there are two.”.....
Similar to Dharavi, Karachi's Orangi town is an example of undocumented entrepreneurship in the shanties. From garments to leather to furniture, there are many small cottage industries operated by small entrepreneurs in Orangi town.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said that there were now 690.8m people - 51.3% of China's total 1.3bn population - in urban areas.
The 21m who moved to cities in 2011 included a large number of migrant workers, according to the NBS.
In comparison, there are 656.6m people living in rural areas.
That city dwellers now outnumber the rural population comes as no surprise.
When China released the results of its census - conducted once every 10 years - in April 2011, figures showed a dramatic rural to urban shift.
It said that the proportion of the population living in the cities had risen by almost 14% in a decade - workers drawn to jobs in China's factories and coastal industrial zones.
The census for the first time counted migrant workers where they were living, rather than where they were registered
Chinese academics have called for new policies to tackle the population shift, like making better social welfare provision for migrant workers.
One reason for this may be that the rural poor choose to relocate themselves in the urban areas in the expectation that more jobs will be available in the urban economy. Economists call this the ‘push factor’ when poor economic conditions in the place of residence persuades people to move to the areas where there may be better prospects for finding jobs. Opposite to this is the ‘pull factor’ when it is known that better paying jobs are available in a particular geographic space some distance away from the place of residence.
The push factor is independent of the amount of distance travelled by those who choose to move out. Short distance migration especially in southern Punjab is an example of the push factor. One result of this is that poverty simply gets exported from one place to the other. Just by moving out, the migrants help those who remain behind. However, they bring down average incomes by moving into the urban areas that don’t have many opportunities to offer. This appears to have happened in the case of the southern districts of Punjab.
For some reason, those discouraged by their circumstances in the countryside as are the people in the southern districts of Punjab province, have preferred to relocate in the nearby towns and cities. They seem to avoid long-distance migration. There are, accordingly, relatively few people from these districts in the well-populated Pakistani diasporas in the Middle East, Britain and North America. A good example is out-migration from Gujrat district situated on the border of central and northern Punjab. The people from this district are to be found in many distant places. They constitute the bulk of the Pakistani population now resident permanently in Norway. I was once told by the Norwegian ambassador to Pakistan that one percent of her country’s population was made up of Pakistanis. In Oslo, the country’s capital, Pakistanis accounted for 10 per cent of the population. Most of these people were from Gujrat district.
Outmigration from Gujrat to Europe offers some interesting insights not only for understanding why people move but also of the choice of their destinations. Once it was appreciated in the district that migration was an important and effective contributor to poverty alleviation, people began to look actively for the opportunities that were available. The Gujratis took advantage of the path discovered by illegal migrants from North Africa to Spain to join this stream of migration. There is now a fairly large community in Barcelona of the people from this district.
Karachi’s growth, on the other hand, is a good example of the pull factor. Millions of people who have left their homes in such poor areas as the tribal regions of Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa (K-P) and the barani areas of north Punjab and Azad Kashmir and moved to Karachi. By doing so, they have generally improved their economic situation. They also help the places from which they come by sending back remittances. These have become important contributors to the incomes of the areas such as North Punjab and K-P. Although in its Punjab study the IPP did not do work on the impact of remittances on economic and social development, there is good reason to argue that this must have been positive.
It’s happened before.
Writing a century and a half before the birth of Christ, the Greek historian Polybius observed “nowadays all over Greece such a diminution in natality and in general manner such depopulation that the towns are deserted and the fields lie fallow. Although this country has not been ravaged by wars or epidemics, the cause of the harm is evident: by avarice or cowardice the people, if they marry, will not bring up the children they ought to have. At most they bring up one or two. It is in this way that the scourge before it is noticed is rapidly developed.”
He concluded by urging his fellow Greeks to return to their historic love of family and children. “The remedy is in ourselves,” he wrote. “We have but to change our morals.” His advice, unfortunately, went largely unheeded.
The demographic winter of the Greek city-states led to economic stagnation and military weakness, which in turn invited invasion and conquest. After a century of increasing dominance in the Eastern Mediterranean, Rome finally annexed the Greek city-states in 146 B.C.
Will a Europe in the grip of a similar demographic winter come to a similar unhappy end? Certainly Europeans of today, like the Greeks of old, are barely having children. The birthrate across the entire continent is far below the replacement level of 2.1 children per couple. Italy, Spain, Austria, and Germany have total fertility rates, or TFRs, of only 1.4 or so, while Poland and Russia languish at 1.32 and 1.2 respectively. The more or less generous child allowances these countries pay the prolific has scarcely caused these numbers to budge. The birth dearth continues to widen.
Most Muslim countries in North Africa and the Middle East have fertility rates two or three times as high as Europe. Afghanistan and Somalia, whose fertility rates are above 6 children (6.62 and 6.4 respectively), may be outliers. But other Middle Eastern countries with above-replacement TFRs include Iraq at 4.86, Pakistan at 3.65, and Saudi Arabia at 3.03. Even immigrants from the most Westernized Muslim countries such as Turkey and Tunisia average nearly twice as many children as the extant populations of most European countries.
While falling fertility may be humanity’s general fate, it is this differential fertility that will determine Europe’s destiny. Although the birthrates of Muslim immigrants to Europe are far lower than they were just a generation ago, they are still far more open to life than highly secularized Europeans. Moreover, these immigrants, once in place in Germany, Italy, Spain, etc., tend to maintain their relatively high fertility for a generation.
If, on the other hand, the second- and third-generation Muslims are largely secularized, then the Christian minority will be, presumably, treated somewhat better, though still subject to some level of discrimination. As everyone knows by now, the Secular Left preaches a tolerance that it generally does not practice.
Either way, believers in once-Christian Europe will probably find themselves living in what might be called a pre-Constantine moment. In others words, they will be living under regimes that punish, even persecute, them for their beliefs.
At the present moment, Europeans still control their own destiny. As Polybius, were he alive today, would surely remind them: “The remedy is in yourselves. You have but to change your morals.”
Something startling is happening in the Muslim world — and no, I don’t mean the Arab Spring or the growth of Islamic fundamentalism. According to a leading demographer, a “sea change” is producing a sharp decline in Muslim fertility rates and a “flight from marriage” among Arab women.
Nicholas Eberstadt, a scholar with the American Enterprise Institute, documented these findings in two recent papers. They tell a story that contradicts the usual picture of a continuing population explosion in Muslim lands. Population is indeed rising, but if current trends continue, the bulge won’t last long.
Eberstadt’s first paper was expressively titled “Fertility Decline in the Muslim World: A Veritable Sea-Change, Still Curiously Unnoticed.” Using data for 49 Muslim-majority countries and territories, he found that fertility rates declined an average of 41 percent between 1975-80 and 2005-10, a deeper drop than the 33 percent decline for the world as a whole.
Twenty-two Muslim countries and territories had fertility declines of 50 percent or more. The sharpest drops were in Iran, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Bangladesh, Tunisia, Libya, Albania, Qatar and Kuwait, which all recorded declines of 60 percent or more over three decades.
Fertility in Iran declined an astonishing 70 percent over the 30-year period, which Eberstadt says was “one of the most rapid and pronounced fertility declines ever recorded in human history.” By 2000, Iran’s fertility rate had fallen to two births per woman, below the level necessary to replace current population, according to Eberstadt and his co-author, Apoorva Shah.
A July 2012 Financial Times story placed the Iranian fertility rate even lower and cited a U.N. report warning that Iran’s population will begin to shrink in two decades and will decline by more than 50 percent by the end of the century if current trends continue.
Big cities in the Muslim world have seen especially sharp drops. Eberstadt notes that only six states in the United States have lower rates than Istanbul. In Tehran and Isfahan, Iran, fertility rates are lower than those of any state in the United States.
Eberstadt argues that the fertility decline isn’t just a result of rising incomes and economic development, though these certainly played a role: “Fertility decline over the past generation has been more rapid in the Arab states than virtually anywhere else on earth.”
The decline of marriage in Europe is well-known but still striking: The female marriage rate fell in Germany from 0.98 to 0.59 from 1965 to 2000; it fell in France over that period from 0.99 to 0.61; in Sweden from 0.98 to 0.49; in Britain, from 1 to 0.54.
Marriage is also plummeting in Asia: In Japan, the percentage of women between 30 and 34 who have never married rose from 7.2 percent in 1970 to 26.6 percent in 2000; in Burma, it rose from 9.3 percent to 25.9 percent; in Thailand, from 8.1 percent to 16.1 percent; in South Korea, from 1.4 percent to 10.7 percent.
Marriage rates in the Arab world are higher, but they’re moving fast in the same direction. What’s “astonishing,” says Eberstadt in an e-mail explaining his findings, is that in the Arab world, this move away from marriage “is by many measures already as far along as was Europe’s in the 1980s — and it is taking place at a vastly lower level of development than the corresponding flights in Europe and developed East Asia....
Getting down to two children per family may seem an elusive target, however, Pakistanis have made huge dents in the alarmingly high fertility rates, despite the widespread opposition to family planning. Since 1988, the fertility rate in Pakistan has declined from 6.2 births per woman to 3.5 in 2009. In a country where the religious and other conservatives oppose all forms of family planning, a decline of 44 per cent in fertility rate is nothing short of a miracle.
A recent paper explores the impact of family planning programs in Pakistan. The paper uses data from the 2006-07 Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey, which interviewed 10, 023 ever-married women between the ages of 15 and 49 years. The survey revealed that only 30 per cent women used contraceptives in Pakistan. Though the paper in its current draft has several shortcomings, yet it still offers several insights into what contributes to high fertility and what the effective strategies are to check high fertility rates in Pakistan.
The survey revealed that the use of contraceptives did not have any significant impact for women who had given birth to six or more children. While 24 per cent women who were not using any contraceptives reported six or more births, 37 per cent of those who used contraceptives reported six or more births. At the same time, 27 per cent of women who were not visited by the family planning staff reported six or more births compared with 22 per cent of women who had a visit with the family planning staff.
Meanwhile, demographic and socio-economic factors reported strong correlation with the fertility outcomes. Women who were at least 19 years old at marriage were much less likely to have four or more births than those who were younger at the time of marriage. Similarly, those who gave birth before they turned 19 were much more likely to have four or more births.
Education also reported strong correlation with fertility outcomes. Consider that 58 per cent of illiterate women reported four or more births compared to 21 per cent of those who were highly educated. Similarly, 60 per cent of the women married to illiterate men reported four or more births compared to 39 per cent of the women married to highly educated men. The survey revealed that literacy among women mattered more for reducing fertility rates than literacy among their husbands.
The underlying variable that defines literacy and the prevalence of contraceptives in Pakistan is the economic status of the households. The survey revealed that 32 per cent of women from poor households reported six or more births compared to 21 per cent of those who were from affluent households.
The above results suggest that family planning efforts in Pakistan are likely to succeed if the focus is on educating young women. Educated young women are likely to get married later and will have fewer children. This is also supported by a comprehensive study by the World Bank in which Andaleeb Alam and others observed that cash transfer programs in Punjab to support female education resulted in a nine percentage point increase in female enrollment. At the same time, the authors found that those girls who participated in the program delayed their marriage and had fewer births by the time they turned 19.
In 1950, the average Pakistani woman had more than 6 children. This has dropped to a little over 3 but has stalled in recent years.
Men show increasing interest about family planning and contraception due to the financial challenges of raising large families.
Interventions should be backed up by an improvement in the supply of contraceptives and availability of family planning services in accessible facilities.
While healthcare systems have numerous opportunities for women to discuss family planning (e.g. antenatal care, deliveries, mother-and-child health services), far fewer opportunities exist for men. A recent study in Pakistan carried out by the Population Council with funding from the World Bank through the Bank-Netherlands Partnership Program (BNPP) found that men indeed want fewer children and are eager to receive technical information about family planning.
The study explored couples’ decision making processes regarding family size and contraceptive choices. It also looked at community perceptions of male-focused family planning interventions and men’s suggestions for future intervention strategies.
The qualitative study took place in four districts in Punjab, Pakistan and consisted of focus group discussions with men and in-depth interviews with couples. Data from existing quantitative baseline and surveys in the same area were also reanalyzed to assess the impact of male-directed interventions on fertility intentions and behavior.
No firm estimates are available for the number of people involved in these movements so we will have to do with guesstimates. Of Pakistan’s current population of almost 200 million, a third are refugees or their descendants. Their number is probably 60 million. This is by far the highest concentration of refugees in the population of a country comparable to Pakistan’s size. The largest component of this group came from India during Partition; of the eight million Muslim refugees who came to Pakistan, some 5.5 million settled in Punjab. Many of them were accommodated on the properties left by the Hindus and Sikhs. This group was quickly absorbed since they were ethnically similar to those who lived in this area. They also spoke the same language. The descendants of this group now number about 35 million.
For most of the remaining 25 million, assimilation was much harder. This is not a homogenous group. It includes the descendants of the refugees from India, those who came later from Bangladesh when that country became independent in 1971, and those who were displaced by natural disasters and other crises. The refugees who came to Pakistan from the Muslim-minority provinces of British India such as Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi, Bombay, and Gujarat still stand out as a separate community. Their effort to get accommodated created ethnic tensions and associated violence in the country, particularly in Karachi. This composite group now numbers about 15 million, of which about 12 million live in Karachi. The remaining are scattered in other parts of urban Pakistan, mostly in the larger cities of southern Sindh. Of this group, those who call themselves muhajirs number about eight to nine million.
The second large-scale movement of people involved job seekers. About 10 million people were involved in this movement. A significant number of these went to Karachi. Some of those who came from Punjab returned home as the pace of economic growth picked up in the province, particularly during the presidency of Ayub Khan. The Pakhtun population stayed, locating itself in the bastis founded on Karachi’s periphery. Once opportunities in the construction industry declined, many of them took up jobs or established businesses in transport and other parts of the service sector. The current size of this population is about three million.
Once the Pakhtun areas became established in the city, they attracted the Pakhtun populations displaced by the two wars in Afghanistan. This movement of people probably added another two million, bringing the total to five million. This is equivalent to one-fourth of Karachi’s population.
To summarise this arithmetic: 60 million economic and political refugees in Pakistan are divided into four fairly distinct, but large groups and each of these four groups has shaped Pakistan’s history in different ways.
Urbanization provides Pakistan with the potential to transform its economy to join the ranks of richer nations, but the country, like others in South Asia, has so far struggled to make the most of that opportunity, says a new World Bank report.
Leveraging Urbanization in South Asia: Managing Spatial Transformation for Prosperity and Livability was presented at the third Pakistan Urban Forum. Difficulty in dealing with the pressures that increased urban populations put on infrastructure, basic services, land, housing and the environment has fostered what the report calls “messy and hidden” urbanization in Pakistan and throughout the region. This, in turn, has helped to constrain Pakistan’s full realization of the prosperity and livability benefits of urbanization.
“Properly managed urbanization can enhance both the prosperity and livability of cities,” says, Peter Ellis, Lead Urban Economist at the World Bank. “This is certainly the case for Pakistan, which is the most urbanized large country in South Asia and derives so much of its economic growth from cities.”
Estimates indicate that cities generate up to 78 percent of Pakistan’s gross domestic product and the government’s Vision 2025 places a premium on urban job growth. Planning ahead for urban growth can help create vibrant and productive cities that fuel the country’s growth, but that will require dealing with the problems posed by the country’s messy and hidden urbanization to date.
Messy urbanization in Pakistan is reflected in the existence of low-density sprawl and the fact that cities are growing outward beyond administrative boundaries, creating challenges for planning, transportation and the provision of public services. It also reflected in the widespread existence of poverty and slums. In Pakistan in 2010, about one in eight urban dwellers lived below the national poverty line and an estimated 46.6 percent of the urban population lived in slums.
Hidden urbanization, the report said, stems from official national statistics understating the share of the population living in areas with urban traits. Officially, 36 percent of Pakistanis lived in urban settlements in 2010 but the World Bank estimates that the actual share of the population living in areas with urban characteristics may be as high as 55 percent. Acknowledging the true extent of urban areas can help to facilitate better planning and metropolitan management.
Failure to address these problems can make cities less livable. Pakistan faced an urban housing shortage of approximately 4.4 million units in 2010. The 2015 livability index of the Economist Intelligence Unit ranked Karachi 135th out of 140 cities; Dhaka was the only major city in South Asia with a lower ranking.
Since the turn of the century, Pakistan has seen a net decline in multi-city agglomerations – defined as continuously lit belts of urbanization containing two or more cities with a population each in excess of 100,000 – as the formation of new agglomerations was outpaced by the merging of existing ones. The Lahore agglomeration, for example, expanded to absorb those of Chiniot, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Lalamusa and Sialkot. In fact, the Lahore agglomeration meets its Delhi equivalent to form one continuously lit belt with an estimated population of 73.4 million, slightly less than the population of Turkey.
and Livelihood Strategies
WORKING PAPER 15
Migration and small towns in Pakistan
Migration has long played a key role in shaping the size and distribution of the population of
Pakistan. Since the partition of the British Indian Empire in 1947, and up to recent and
ongoing conflicts within the region, Pakistan has been the destination for large numbers of
cross-border migrants and refugees. These migrant groups, together with the growing
number of rural people displaced by agricultural modernization and mechanization, have
contributed to the substantial increase in the levels of urbanization in Pakistan, especially in
the more industrialized provinces of Punjab and Sindh. At the same time, like the people of
so many low- and middle-income nations, Pakistani citizens have sought work abroad, and
in the 1970s large-scale labour migration to the Middle East began in earnest. Remittances
have since become an important component of the national economy and of the livelihoods
of many households.
These complex and substantial movements have resulted in profound changes in settlement
patterns, and also in deep socioeconomic and cultural transformations. Smaller urban
centres, such as the ones described in this paper, reflect the growing discrepancy between
changing values and widening economic opportunities on the one hand, and the persistence
of a feudal system of political power often supported by a highly controversial administrative
and political devolution plan, on the other hand.
This study draws upon secondary sources and census reports of the government of
Pakistan. In addition, it draws upon previous work done by the authors, and detailed
interviews which have been carried out for this study. A list of the persons interviewed, along
with excerpts from their interviews, is given in Appendix 1. These excerpts have been
translated from Urdu recordings totalling over 16 hours.
In 1996 he became responsible for looking after the oil tankers of a private individual from his
area. This is what he does now and it has for the first time given him surplus income. He has
invested in a plot and house in a katchi abadi in Karachi. His two sons are now living in the city
and have both gone to high school. They are also in the transport business and have negotiated
informal loans for buying rickshaws which they rent out to people from their own area in the
NWFP, while they work as drivers for private companies. All this is the result of the connections
Abdul developed while working in Karachi.
From 1976 until the time that he got a job that earned him a surplus – 1996 – Abdul could never
have even thought of bringing his family to Karachi. He did not earn enough to rent
accommodation and the type of jobs that he did required odd working hours. Most of the time he
lived in make-shift accommodation near transport and cargo terminals or with co-workers,
sometimes seven to eight men in a room, and even more sharing a toilet. He feels that staying
away from his family and living the way he did was tough and that nobody should be subjected to
such conditions. However, these sacrifices have opened a new world of opportunities for his
immediate family and saved them from a life similar to Abdul’s.
Source: Interview taken by Arif Hasan in Karachi on 13 December 2007
For developing countries, urban development is synonymous with economic growth and progress. In Pakistan, however, city planning experts say rapid urbanization is starting to cause more harm than good.
Lahore, the capital of Pakistan's Punjab province, is shrouded in plumes of smog from October to February every year as crop burning exacerbates the city's air pollution problem.
The monsoon season this year brought the southern city of Karachi, Pakistan's financial hub, to a standstill as the city experienced its heaviest rainfall in a single spell since 1931 and massive flooding. Its poor waste disposal and drainage systems aggravated the problem of water logging in parts of the city, which is home to roughly 15 million people.
Islamabad, Pakistan's capital, is a "planned city" that came in to being in the 1960s. Over the years, however, many informal settlements and ad hoc developments have worsened housing and traffic woes for the city's residents.
"I couldn't have imagined a few years ago that I would get stuck in traffic but now it is an everyday reality. The authorities keep widening roads as a solution but it's making traffic worse and making this once green city, grey," said Islamabad resident Amir Tariq.
Rather than being sites of development, democratization and opportunity, Pakistan's cities are fast becoming hubs of gross inequality and unlivable for many people, particularly as private economic interests outweigh public goods.
Citizen-led sustainable urban organizations are steadily mushrooming across the country. Mome Saleem, executive director of the Institute of Urbanization, started a campaign called "Reclaim Green Islamabad" in 2015.
"In 2016, we successfully rallied against the cutting of 240 very old trees in Islamabad and even though the trees were eventually cut, it was the first time citizens of Islamabad came out in large numbers to demand a greener, cleaner city," Saleem told DW.
The Orangi Pilot Project's low-cost sanitation, health, housing and microcredit programs empowered residents to make this slum much more livable for themselves as it was a squatter community, and did not qualify for government aid due to their "unofficial" status.
Shehri, meaning "citizen," is an organization that's successful in shaping dialogue and organizing resistance to various government policies and actions that are detrimental to urban prosperity.
As urbanization in Pakistan increases rapidly, Saleem underlined, problems are growing, but so is citizen action against them. So there's still hope to turn around Pakistan's urbanization from problem to progress.
The government wants to spend $7 billion to develop the Ravi riverbank, but opponents say that risks replicating the environmental and societal problems in nearby Lahore.
Warraich is among dozens of landowners petitioning against the government's plan to build a megacity from scratch on the banks of the Ravi river, a once-thriving waterway that’s been depleted by pollution and dwindling water levels. The $7-billion endeavor would span 46 kilometers (29 miles) and include housing, commercial areas, hospitals and schools — creating a metropolis that could ease pressure on overpopulated Lahore and support its urbanization.
The Ravi Urban Development Authority, a government body created to manage the project, pitches it as a green initiative that will bring in much-needed resources to clean up the river. “The idea is to manage the area properly,” says RUDA’s Chief Executive Officer Imran Amin.
RUDA aims to build a man-made channel and a series of barrages along the Ravi’s path to control its water level, which the authority says will help conserve what limited flow remains and restore Lahore’s supply of groundwater. But some opponents are skeptical of those claims and what they see as a land grab by RUDA. The city’s high court halted the project last year — one ruling in an ongoing legal fight for the future of the river that could reach Pakistan’s Supreme Court.
“This is our property. We don’t want to sell it,” says Warraich, sitting on a white plastic armchair outside his farmhouse. “They are acquiring our land for a new city” where local residents won’t be able to continue farming, he says. “I don’t understand this logic.”
Pakistan’s leaders have been trying to develop the banks of the Ravi for almost a decade and Prime Minister Imran Khan has made the task a priority.
The Ravi river was instrumental to Lahore’s development, but today large pockets sit stagnant while other sections have dried up completely. A water-sharing treaty with India has limited its flow, while Pakistan’s own mismanagement has exacerbated the problem. For decades, the river has collected untreated sewage from Lahore, as well as industrial and agricultural waste.
In recent years, Pakistan has developed legislation to regulate water use amid warnings that the country will face water scarcity by 2025. According to a government study last year, only 39 percent of water sources across 29 cities were safe for drinking. Cleaning up the Ravi could help Pakistan forestall an impending water crisis — its basin is home to some 50 million people and the river irrigates about 7 million acres of land.
These short-term solutions, however, will run up against the climate clock. Most of Pakistan's rivers are fed by melting snow from glaciers in the Himalayas, which are set to shrink as the world heats up. As global average temperatures rise beyond 2 degrees Celsius — a highly likely scenario based on current trajectories — the volume of Himalayan glaciers will be halved.
Global warming is set to increase precipitation across Pakistan, but climate models show the seasonality and intensity of those rains will become less predictable. That's bad news for farmers given the vast majority of crops grown in Pakistan are dependent on reliable monsoon patterns. Though agriculture provides less than 20 percent of the country's gross domestic product, it employs 40 percent of its labor force.
Pakistan isn’t the first country to try and solve its environmental issues with more development. Governments have plowed billions of dollars into eco-city initiatives everywhere from Malaysia to Iceland to simultaneously boost economic growth and adapt to a warming planet. The projects are marked by common features including more efficient public transport, green spaces and wastewater treatment plants,” says Amin.
The government wants to spend $7 billion to develop the Ravi riverbank, but opponents say that risks replicating the environmental and societal problems in nearby Lahore.
But critics worry that the new city, which RUDA says will take 12 to 15 years to build, will replicate Lahore’s problems instead of fixing them — especially its inequality. They also say the government’s focus on building a new city could lead to further neglect in parts of Lahore. As the city boomed, it has stretched west toward the Ravi, spawning packed settlements around the river. The area’s population density contrasts starkly with growing wealth at the other end of the city, where single-family houses built on large lots in private communities extend far enough to almost kiss the border with India.
Lower-income residents in Lahore bear the brunt of the city’s environmental woes, living in areas with dirty water and bad air. Meanwhile, wealthier residents are protected in housing developments that operate like private businesses with separate water supplies. “It’s a very sad reflection of what has happened to our city because it has been totally commercialized,” says Fauzia Qureshi, an architect and urban planner.
The question for residents like Warraich who are being pressured to give up their land is whether the potential improvements and compensation will be worth it. To create the proposed city, RUDA would sell land to developers, who would build on it under the government’s supervision. Opponents argue that the promised environmental benefits of Ravi City are being used to justify the government’s exercise of “eminent domain” — giving it the right to claim private property for public use — on land they fear will actually be used by private developers for commercial purposes. RUDA’s official land-use master plan sets aside space for a high-rise residential zone, business district, and area that will be called Sports City.
“There won’t be any forced acquisition,” says Amin from RUDA. “Unless it’s important where it’s [a] wastewater treatment plant or something which is necessary to be placed there and we will try our best” to give current residents “a fair market price.”
According to Section 45 of the Ravi Urban Development Authority Act, which outlines RUDA’s powers and functions, the authority may “use such force as may be necessary” to “eject any person in unauthorized occupation of any land or property vested in the Authority.” The document also gives RUDA power “to remove, demolish or alter” any building or structure as needed to realize development plans. There’s no guarantee that those plans will help restore the Ravi.
Raising the river’s levels by creating a channel and barrages will have “almost no impact” on Lahore’s groundwater levels, says Vaqar Zakaria, an environmental consultant. The city’s water table will keep being depleted unless groundwater usage by housing developers and factories is regulated, he says, something that isn’t addressed in RUDA’s proposal. “Those who are bigger and richer can bore and get the water from the ground and a poor man can’t afford to do that,” Zakaria says. Ravi City “is going to benefit a small number of people, and it's not going to add value to the average citizen.”
Environmentalists have also cast doubt on the other green pillar of the Ravi City plan: Lahore’s first wastewater treatment plant.
Fred de Sam Lazaro:
For decades, Karachi has been a magnet for migrants from conflict and climate disasters. Decades ago, it ran out of room. Dotting the city's outskirts are clusters of ramshackle dwellings. These have stood since the 2010 floods.
Less than a mile away, crammed under high-voltage power lines, a 2022 wave of settlers.
Sikhandar Chandio, Flood Victim (through translator):
When the water came, it came all of a sudden at night. We just managed to get out with whatever we could and had to abandon our animals.
Fred de Sam Lazaro:
Sikhandar Chandio and his wife, Sughra, were sharecropper farmers. They escaped with their four children, and were able to save one cow. They journeyed here on foot, which took a week.
Sughra Chandio, Flood Victim (through translator):
Everything was underwater. There were no facilities. There was no help, no food.
Fred de Sam Lazaro:
Today, they rely on a patchwork of charities, everyone overwhelmed by what U.N. officials describe as one of the worst climate disasters on record, slamming a country that contributes less than 1 percent of the world's greenhouse gases.
Shehbaz Sharif, Pakistani Prime Minister (through translator):
We have mobilized every available resource towards the national relief effort, and repurposed all budget priorities.
Fred de Sam Lazaro:
Pakistan took the lead at this year's COP 27 climate conference, helping to secure agreement on a loss and damage fund to help developing nations cope.
Just how those funds, if they appear, will be used is a concern.
Kaiser Bengali, Former Adviser, Pakistan Ministry of Planning and Development: But there is a fair amount of manmade responsibility for these floods, and politics plays a big part.
Fred de Sam Lazaro:
Kaiser Bengali was a government adviser during the 2010 floods, Pakistan's worst until 2022.
I think it is also important to see how this fund will be utilized and how it will be implemented and whether the sociopolitical structures and the planning structures that need to be changed, made more effective happens.
Fred de Sam Lazaro:
The 1,800-mile-long Indus River, lifeblood of Pakistan's agriculture sector, has been extensively engineered with dams and canals, beginning during British colonial times and ramping up in the 1960s with loans and advisers from international lending agencies.
Has it been, in terms of food production, a reasonably good investment?
Certainly. Lands where not even a blade of grass grew now produce two crops a year. It's just that one has to manage this better.
Ahmed Kamal, Chairman, Pakistan Federal Flood Commission:
Governance structure is not good.
Thousands leave Dadu district as floodwaters surround Dadu city
Thousands of panicked citizens have left a densely-populated district in Pakistan, following a fresh spell of floods, adding to the growing number of displaced people, officials and local media reported on Sunday.
The Dadu district of Sindh province has been surrounded by floodwaters, leaving only one passage for the residents to leave the city as the water level in Manchar Lake, the country's largest freshwater body, is continuously rising.
Gushing floodwaters have washed away the first defence line of the city – home to over one million people – forcing the administration backed by the army troops to strengthen the remaining embankments, local media reported.
Footage aired on local TV channels showed thousands of stranded people lodged in tents or under open skies along the main highway that leads to Hyderabad, the second largest district of Sindh after Karachi.
Either side of the highway could be seen inundated in floodwaters for miles.
Another footage showed hundreds of flapped citizens, on mini trucks, wagons, and auto rickshaws, leaving the city. Many others along with their livestock were also spotted trudging along the road under the baking sun.
The huge flooding also forced the administration to shift nearly 400 prisoners from Dadu district jail to the Hyderabad prison.
Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah told reporters on Sunday that the rescue agencies are trying their best to save the city.
The recent downpours – 500% higher than average – and massive floods have left 125 million people homeless in Sindh alone, aside from causing a colossal loss of Rs350 billion ($1.5 billion) to agriculture and another Rs50 billion ($221 million) to the livestock.
The severity of the situation also prompted Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa to air dash to the literally besieged Dadu city on Saturday evening, directing the troops to accelerate the relief and rescue operations.