Karachi Tops Growth Among World's Fastest Growing Megacities

Karachi's population has grown 80.5% in the last decade, making it the world's fastest growing megacity, according to  recently released Demographia World Urban Areas Report.  Karachi is followed by Shenzhen, Lagos, Beijing, Bangkok, Dhaka, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Delhi, Jakarta and Istanbul.

Source: Demographia

Karachi is Huge:

The report says that Karachi is the world's 7th largest metropolis with an estimated population of nearly 21 million inhabitants packed in an area of 310 square miles, making it the 10th densest large city in the world. Demographia authors acknowledge that their estimate of Karachi's "population is lower than other estimates (such as the United Nations), which include metropolitan area population not within the continuously developed urban area".

KPT Flyover, Karachi 

Massive Influx of Migrants:

In addition to the normal migration patterns witnessed in the past, Karachi has also seen major influx of waves of refugees escaping conflict zones like FATA and Swat and many people displaced by natural disasters like the 2005 earthquake and 2010 floods. Karachi itself has now become a  major conflict zone with the growth of ethnic gangs supported by political bosses, and the arrival of the Taliban fighters along with the refugees from FATA and Swat. Poor governance of the city has further exacerbated the situation of Karachi's citizens.

Karachi: The Urban Frontier

Clifton, Karachi
National Public Radio(NPR), an American radio network, started a series which it called "The Urban Frontier" beginning in 2008 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 caled it "one of the largest and most crowded cities of the world". It did a segment on Shehri, the activist group fighting big-money developers. Much of what it said is still valid.

It highlighted several other facts about Karachi such as:

1. Karachi is built along a natural harbor facing the Arabian Sea, and this central location between the Middle East and India has made Karachi an important trading port for hundreds of years.

2. Karachi encompasses both its old seafront district and a sprawling web of commercial and residential development that covers almost 1,400 square miles. Its contemporary landscape spans skyscrapers, posh golf resorts, congested roadways and sprawling squatter colonies.

3. The Port of Karachi handles 60 percent of Pakistan's cargo, and the Karachi Stock Exchange is one of Asia's most active trading markets. The city's main industries include shipping, trade, finance, banking, information technology, manufacturing, real estate, fashion, media and education.

4. Like any big city, it has its share of problems. Pollution, crime, violence, 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.

5. 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 illegal houses.

Parallels With Chicago: 

 In "Instant City: Life and Death in Karachi", the author Steve Inskeep of NPR Radio draws parallels between the Chicago of 1950s and 1960s and the rapidly growing cities in the developing world like Mumbai (India), Karachi (Pakistan) and Port Harcourt (Nigeria) in the following words:

"Karachi was one of many growing cities made turbulent by ethnic politics. In recent years an ethnic political party has controlled Mumbai, India, imposing a regional language on the government of an aspiring world city. In the growing oil city of Port Harcourt, Nigeria, Internet cafes and churches line the commercial streets, while ethnic militias rule the backstreets and set neighborhoods on fire. None of this will surprise people who study the history of American cities. Chicago, for example, grew explosively from the 1830s onward--it was an instant city in its time--newcomers clustered defensively in their various neighborhoods. As late as the 1950s, immigrants and their children drew battle lines along major streets or railroad tracks.."

 Inskeep quotes newspaper columnist late Mike Royko of Chicago to make his point:

"There was...good reason to stay close to home and in your own neighborhood-town and ethnic state. Go that way, past the viaduct, and the wops will jump you, or chase you into Jew town. Go the other way, beyond the park, and the Polacks will stomp on you. Cross those streetcar tracks, and the Irish will shower you with confetti from the brickyards. And who can tell what the niggers might do?"

Karachi Offers Hope:

It does help to put in historical context the growing pains that Pakistan, and its largest city Karachi, are experiencing now. When visitors see a squatter city in India or Pakistan or Bangladesh, they observe overwhelming desperation: rickety shelters, violence, little kids working or begging, absence of sanitation, filthy water and air. However, 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.

Many of the potential benefits of urbanization will be hard to realize in Pakistan unless there is improved city governance and serious efforts to reduce the level of violence in Karachi.

Dolmen Mall Clifton Featured on CNN from DHAToday on Vimeo.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

World's Tallest Building Proposed in Karachi

Karachi Fashion Week 2013

Impact of Violence on Pakistan Elections 2013

Karachi-The Urban Frontier

MQM Worried By Karachi's Demographic Changes 
Karachi Tops World's Largest Cities 
Karachi Tops Mumbai in Stock Performance 
Eleven Days in Karachi 
Pakistan Most Urbanized in South Asia

Do Asia's Urban Slums Offer Hope?

Orangi is Not Dharavi

Climate Change Could Flood Karachi Coastline

Karachi Fourth Cheapest For Expats

Karachi City Government

Karachi Dreams Big


Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Daily Times story on KSE-100 closing over 19,000 points, record high:

KARACHI: The Karachi stock market closed at a historical high level of 19,000 points on Thursday as emerging clarity on timely elections compelled investors to take fresh positions.

The Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) 100-share index gained 52.11 points or 0.27 percent to close at 19,034.53 points as compared to 18,982.42 points of the previous session. The KSE 30-share index was up by 23.55 points to close at 14,664.29 points as compared with 14,640.74 points.

“With the emerging clarity on timely elections, investors continued to take fresh positions,” said Topline Sec dealer Samar Iqbal. “Fauji Fertilizer continued to rally after its result announcement.”

Investors remained skeptical on Engro Corp on gas supply issues, she said and added that telecom sector remained under pressure after heavy penalty by Competition Commission of Pakistan. Fauji Cement remained the volume leader with 26 million shares while its share price rose by 3.0 percent.

The market turnover went down by 24.43 percent and traded 147.36 million shares as against 195 million shares of the previous session. The overall market capitalisation gained 0.51 percent and traded Rs 4.687 trillion as against Rs 4.663 trillion. Gainers beat losers 225 to 148, while 22 stocks were unchanged.

“Stocks closed at a record-high level post-major earnings announcements for the quarter-end session at KSE led by second-tier stocks on strong valuations,” said Arif Habib Corporation Director Ahsan Mehanti. “Bullish sentiments prevailed amid thin trade after Consumer Price Index inflation for April stood at 5.8 percent.”

Higher local cement prices, recovery in global commodities and easing political concerns played a catalyst role in the bullish activity at KSE amid concerns over dismal earnings outlook for the banking sector....

Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Reuters' report on Templeton and Goldman Sachs bullishness on Pakistan:

After 18 years as a banker at firms such as Citigroup and Nomura, Shaheryar Chishty took a different direction in late 2011, starting an investment firm that, among other things, helped guide Chinese and South Korean money into Pakistan.

While Pakistan is probably not the first place the average investor would choose to park cash, Chishty's timing was spot on. The country's stock market surged 49 percent last year to become one of the five best performing markets in the world.

The victory by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in Pakistan's general election lifted the stock market to an all-time high on Monday, in a sign that investors, which include Goldman Sachs (GS.N) and Mark Mobius of Templeton, are betting on the prospect of further market gains through a stable government.

"I'm not under-estimating the challenges, but we have one party with a simple majority," Chishty, the Pakistan-origin chief executive of Asiapak Investments Ltd, told Reuters in an interview in Hong Kong on Monday. "A lot of the market's rise happened despite the previous government."

Risks, especially violence by Islamic militant groups, remain constant, yet Pakistan's market is up another 21 percent this year, behind only Japan and the Philippines as Asia's top gainers, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Pakistan's uncertain security environment and a deteriorating economy have failed to keep emerging market fund guru Mobius and Goldman Sachs Asset Management out of the country.

Mobius invested 4.6 percent of his $18.5 billion Templeton Asian Growth Fund's assets in Pakistani shares as of the end of March, more than his exposure to shares in Hong Kong, Singapore or Taiwan, according to data from Thomson Reuters Lipper.

"Pakistan is not a small country and it is strategically significant. However, with the negative press surrounding the country, it has tended to be ignored by investors," said Mobius, executive chairman of Templeton Emerging Markets Group.

Last year, 15 equity funds from Pakistan were among the world's top 100 performers, the Thomson Reuters Lipper data show....

Riaz Haq said…
49 of world's 50 most violent cities in #Americas plus #CapeTown in #Africa. No #Pakistan cities. http://econ.st/21TcZ3x via @TheEconomist

THE thorny task of comparing crime rates across the world is tricky because legal interpretations vary. Sweden's definition of rape is not the same as America’s, for example. Murder however should be easier to record because there is an identifiable victim, something that can be counted. But the way in which this is done in poorer, often more corrupt countries makes truly comparable statistics hard to pin down. Where there are inefficient public health systems or police, it is even harder. It is in such places that best estimates must be made—Venezuela is a case in point. We recently reported the latest annual ranking of 2015's most violent cities in the world (excluding war zones) by CCSP-JP, a Mexican NGO. The report placed Caracas, Venezuela's capital, at the top of a list of 50 cities (with populations of at least 300,000) with the highest homicide rates.

Crime statistics in Venezuela have not been officially measured since 2009 however, and are underreported according to experts. Where no official figures exist, CCSP-JP is transparent in its methodology: for Caracas it counted bodies from the city morgue (which covers a larger area than the city itself) between January and August, discounted a percentage attributed to accidental deaths, and extrapolated an amount for the full year to get a rate of 120 homicides per 100,000 people. The approach is obviously open to error and several groups have challenged some of CCSP-JP’s findings. One, the Igarapé Institute—a Brazilian think-tank on security and violence—compiles statistics on murder rates in countries and on more than 2,100 cities with populations of 250,000 or more, compared with the CCSP-JP's ‘hundreds’. Their data are only gathered from primary sources such as government, police or vital registration data, and from recognised sources such as the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime. In the above chart we present an alternative ranking which includes Igarapé’s findings using figures no older than 2013.

The broad picture in the rankings is roughly similar, however. Latin American and Caribbean countries suffer disproportionately compared with elsewhere, mainly because of inequality, poor rule of law, impunity and corrupt institutions that are infiltrated by drug cartels. Only two countries outside the region feature on either chart, South Africa and the United States (the list’s only rich-world country). Two US cities*—St Louis and Baltimore—appear on the latest ranking compared with four previously. The good news is that there has been a general decline in violence across the world everywhere except in Latin America. And even within the region, many of the worst cities in Mexico and Colombia are not as bad as they once were. Yet that is cold comfort to the residents of El Salvador, Honduras and Venezuela.
Riaz Haq said…
Soldier Bazaar in diverse #Karachi, #Pakistan. #Christian #Hindu #Muslim #Parsee #Muhajir #Punjabi #Gujarati #Sindhi


Soldier bazaar, near Jamshed Town in the Garden East area of Karachi, houses a beautiful, diverse society where people with all sorts of backgrounds coexist and support each other.

The majority is Muslim, but mixed in them are Hindus, Christians and people belonging to all sorts of ethnicities – Punjabi, Kashmiri, Sindhi, Muhajir, Balochi, Parsi, Memon, Gujarati and others.

As a street photographer and story writer, I had long wished to observe Soldier Bazaar and its community firsthand. Finally, this June, I got the chance.

It was a hot day, and we were on our city tour with the 'I am Karachi' team to explore the city's landmarks. As we entered the Soldier Bazaar area, it became fairly clear that this was a low-income area, and the market was full of second hand material.

During our discussion with the locals there, Faheem, a chicken shop owner told us, "There is no mobile snatching and robbery in Soldier Bazaar. You are free to roam on the streets at whatever time of the day, no one will dare loot or even touch you. This is one of Karachi's most peaceful societies."

It was noon and our team was buzzing with excitement to document this fantastic bazaar. We roamed the streets freely, cameras in our hands, with shopkeeper and pedestrian warmly welcoming us and happily telling us about their lives in the area.

I decided to start from a sugarcane juice stall, which is the most preferred summer drink in the locality.

On the right side of the road, beside the stall of the sugarcane juice, is a big building where we sat sipping the sweet beverage, wondering how old this building was. That is when some people sitting at the floor of the building called us and introduced us to the owner.

It turned out that the building was owned by one Imtiaz Khan, who was the only son of Bahadur Khan, who worked for the British in 1929, selling grass to earn a living.

Imtiaz is still living his life peacefully in Soldier Bazaar, seemingly unaffected by all the change around him. For him, if things are bad in the country today; they will be better tomorrow.
Riaz Haq said…
‘FDI Strategy’: Karachi placed 7th in global survey


Karachi has secured 7th position in the top 15 Asia-Pacific Cities of the Future survey under the FDI Strategy category for 2017-18, an incredible increase from its 14th position in 2015-16.

The findings are part of a survey, ‘fDi’s Asia-Pacific Cities of the future 2017-18’, conducted by the fDi Intelligence division of the Financial Times to determine economic prospects of the cities in the region.

The FDI Strategy category of the survey is the only qualitative category, and does not feed into the overall result. This is the sixth category for which there were 15 submissions. In the previous rankings, FDI Strategy had been included in the overall ranking.

According to the survey, Perth, Australia, secured the first position in the FDI Strategy list while Brisbane, Australia, and Hong Kong came on second and third position respectively. Other cities in the list include Auckland, New Zealand, (4th position), Wuxi, China, (5th), Melbourne, Australia, (6th), Yokohama, Japan, (8th), Newcastle, Australia, (9th) and Osaka, Japan, (10th).

Karachi has also been ranked 4th in terms of cost effectiveness in the list of Top 5 Asia-Pacific Mega Cities of the future 2017-18 by the fDi Intelligence. Lahore also made it to the list and secured the 5th position.

Riaz Haq said…
Serious Delays in Major #GreenLine #BRT Public Transport Project in #Karachi. #Traffic #Pakistan https://thewire.in/216316/green-line-bus-delays-spoil-a-major-public-transport-project-in-karachi/ … via @thewire_in

Work on the extended portion has already been delayed considerably due to objections raised by the Quaid-e-Azam Mazar Management Board that saw its elevated track as obscuring the view of Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s mausoleum. The board’s by-laws prohibit any construction higher than the mausoleum’s podium – upon which its domed building stands – in its 1.2-km radius.

“If we go ahead with building the proposed elevated section of the BRT and stations that cover the entire width of MA Jinnah Road, then the [mausoleum] will not be visible from Seventh Day Adventist Hospital to the Municipal Park … and well beyond. The vision of the founding fathers and that of the architect will be compromised and it will be a loss to Karachi and to its present and future citizens,” is how architect and urban planner Arif Hasan summed up the objections in a column in the daily Dawn in May 2017. He is a member of the Quaid-e-Azam Mazar Management Board.

It took three months to address the problem through a redesigning of the project. An underpass is now being built between Guru Mandir and Al Haaj Bundoo Khan restaurant on MA Jinnah Road. From there onwards, an elevated road is planned to lead to the last stop. Work on the underpass is in its early phase while the construction of the elevated part has yet to begin.

There have been some other design-related problems.

For instance, the Sindh government sought changes in the original design passing through the Numaish Chowrangi area because, as it argued, it wanted to build other BRT tracks in the same place. It, therefore, demanded that a two-lane underpass there be widened to three lanes.

The redesign has jacked up the project’s cost exponentially, says Channa. “The original cost of the underpass was estimated at Rs 800 million but the redesigned plan – which also envisages an integrated bus terminal for Green, Red, Yellow and Blue lines, a turnaround facility and parking for 25 buses – has increased its cost to 2.5 billion (Pakistani) rupees,” he says.

The Sindh government has also raised objections to the elevated portion from Bundu Khan restaurant onwards to the end. It says an elevated track will be difficult to expand for future BRT lines and argues that the track be constructed at ground level.

A final decision is yet to be made on this – as well on the project’s extension to the Merewether Clock Tower – which may cause further delay in its completion.

“Whether the Green Line project will benefit Karachi or not, its delayed construction has ruined our business,” says M Jawed Qureshi who heads the Gulbahar Traders Association that represents shopkeepers at a ceramics and sanitary-ware market located almost halfway between Guru Mandir and Nazimabad. Demolition work and digging for the project damaged and narrowed main roads because of which customers avoided visiting the market, he says. “This affected 15% wholesale and over 50% retail business.” Also affected was the livelihood of over 2,500 labourers and 550 goods carriers working at the market, he adds.

Major traffic jams could be witnessed at many places along the under-construction track, causing massive inconvenience to everyone concerned — commuters, transport operators, traders and street vendors, among others. “No diversions or alternative routes were provided to [redirect] traffic during the entire period of construction, wreaking havoc on commuting time and businesses,” says Rehan Hashmi, former member of the National Assembly from Karachi and chairman of the city’s District Municipal Corporation (Central).

Riaz Haq said…
#Karachi's #Lyari Expressway finally completed 8 years behind schedule and over 100% over budget. #Pakistan The Express Tribune


KARACHI: Originally scheduled to be completed in 2009, the Lyari Expressway’s completion has finally been announced in January, 2018. Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi will inaugurate the expressway’s north-bound track starting from Mauripur tomorrow (Sunday).

Due to the abnormal delay in its completion, the expressway became a symbol of maladministration of successive governments. The project was conceived in 2002 and was scheduled to be completed in 2009. Its south-bound track connecting Sohrab Goth to Mauripur Road was completed earlier and is being use since 2010 but the other track took years to be completed due to remaining work on its 1.6 kilometre portion, which was allegedly encroached upon. Lack of federal government funding was also cited as one of the reasons for the delay.

“Around 99% work was already finished and only 1% [incomplete portion] created hindrance for years. Finally, we have finished it,” Lyari Expressway Project Director Javed Langah told The Express Tribune. “From Sunday, there will be uninterrupted traffic flow on both tracks from Sohrab Goth to Mauripur and back,” Langah said, adding that around 10,000 vehicles are expected to ply on the expressway every day.

It also seems that the project has not been completed in its entirety. Lighting on the expressway has not been completely arranged. “There is a lighting issue which will be resolved soon,” the project director said.

According to official documents, the original cost of the project was Rs5 billion. However, due to delays, it kept increasing over the years. “Now, the total estimated cost of this project, with lighting, stands at Rs11 billion,” Langah said.

The Lyari Expressway is a16km-long elevated thoroughfare which runs along the Lyari River. It is a toll road which allows signal-free traffic movement between Sohrab Goth and Mauripur Road.

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