Karachi - Largest City of Pakistan

By Manzoor, Nayyer | Economic Review, July 1990 | Go to article overview

Karachi - Largest City of Pakistan


Manzoor, Nayyer, Economic Review


Karachi - Largest City of Pakistan

Right from the dawn of time to the year 1830 it took the world to achieve a population level of one billion; by 1930 this figure had doubled to two billion; and by 1976, it had again doubled to four billion. Now it is likely to double again to eight billion by the year 2020. In 1950 there were only three cities in the world with population more than ten million i.e. Shanghai, London and New York. Karachi the largest city of Pakistan in 1950 had a population close to 1134 thousand. As the year 2020 approaches more such cities all over the world are likely to have additional population surpassing the figure ten million each. Accordingly it is said that 20 such cities with a population over ten million would be emerging by that time; out of this 17 would be in the developing world. Karachi at that time may have total population of 17,560,000.

In the urban areas of our country mainly in cities like Karachi the desire for systematic and scientific running of their municipal and civil administration is growing more than ever before. But this desire is constantly challenged by the ever growing population pressures in these (urban) cities.

Massive migration of the type as the one which has taken place in Karachi right from 1947 down today with sharp ethnic divisions places enormous strain on its administrative system and leadership. It also further complicates the problem of government by contributing to massive urbanization to an imbalance age structure and to labour force expansion which obviously outstrips job creation, especially for the urban youth. This is further aggravated by rapid urban birth rates and the ever growing demands of municipal facilities.

So the stability of the democratic system of such cities in general and their administrative set up in particular depends on the wisdom of their leaders; mainly their approach towards rural-urban migration policies for their respective territories.

The table above shows that right from 1941 till today on an average the population of Pakistan has increased by 8.9 per cent while that of Karachi by 20.8 per cent. (The population data has been obtained from Population Census Department - however it is generally felt that the present population of Karachi is around one crore).

It is thus obvious that in spite of rapid economic growth of Karachi and its high consumption level along with all insignias of economic prosperity it is also confronted with population related problems like clogged highways, unresolved waste disposal, loss of wilderness, polluted atmosphere, contaminated drinking water, stifling smog conditions, acid rains, and non-access to recreational facilities_All this will impose enormous strain on the political and economic structures and also on the city's relation with other parts of the country. …

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