Academic journal article Theory in Action

Uneven Development and Pakhtun Diaspora in Karachi (Pakistan)

Academic journal article Theory in Action

Uneven Development and Pakhtun Diaspora in Karachi (Pakistan)

Article excerpt

I. INTRODUCTION

How do development and underdevelopment intersect to influence urban population growth in Pakistan? This stark question often goes unexamined in the development literature on the region. Analysts, duly in tune with conventional neoclassical approaches (see e.g., Burki, 2008; Hussain, 2004; Haq, 1973; Falcon and Papanek, 1971; McEwan, 1971), tend to dismiss underdevelopment and urban population growth as a temporal-spatial lag to be overcome by the diffusion of development. Their uncritical allegiance to the sequential model of development, as perceived by Rostow (1960), espoused a development in Pakistan that turned out to be what James Galbraith famously called "symbolic development" (Peach, 2008), i.e., development empty of substantive content. As a result, vertical accumulation reached a level that turned the very architect of the country's development project, Mahbub-ul-Haq, into its fervent critic. In 1969, when Pakistan was busy celebrating the "Decade of Development" (1959-69), Haq (1973) chastised it with his now fabled indictment that the country's economy was in the iron grip of the 22 wealthy families that owned two-thirds of its industries, 80% of its banking and 79% of its insurance business. Several decades later, Cohen (2006) observed these 22 families widen into 500 ones that now dominate Pakistan's political economy.

Yet the privileged development discourse on Pakistan has failed to make room for alternative critical perspectives that have been conspicuous by their absence from the development literature. The hegemony of neoclassical theories of economic development and modernization perspectives have now mutated into neoliberal theories of capitalist development. Both sets of theories embrace the unequal outcomes of the early stages of capitalist expansion in the well- contested belief that they will even out in the end. As the early theorists of uneven and combined development (e.g., Marx and Trotsky) argued, unequal outcomes of capitalist expansion are not an aberration, but inherent in the capitalist pattern of development (Bond, 1997). If this argument holds, which Marxist and neo-Marxist analysts say it does, then the agency of the state assumes epic significance in evening out the development process to benefit all segments of society. In Smith's (1982) persuasive formulation, the perspectival goal of uneven and combined development is not to seek a completely "even" outcome of development, but to address the structural constraints that engender sectoral, spatial and class disparities in the development process. The objective of this paper, therefore, is to identify the structural dynamics in uneven development that triggered mass exodus of Pakhtuns from their native habitat of Kyhber-Pakhtunkhwa into Karachi. Perpetuation of these dynamics continues to keep Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa underdeveloped and Pakhtun out-migration "the new normal."

EMPIRICAL SETTING

The empirical setting of this investigation is the country's largest city of Karachi that is overdeveloped and overurbanized, and the country's extremely underdeveloped province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa that brims with the "relative surplus population." With the massive migration from underdeveloped regions, Karachi has overgrown to the extent that it now houses half of Pakistan's urban population (Yusuf, 2012). Although decennial census has not been conducted since 1998, Karachi's population is estimated at 18 million (Yusuf, 2012), seven millions of whom are Pakhtuns (Obaid-Chinoy, 2009; National, 2009) from the northern and southern Pakhtunkhwa. At seven million, Pakhtuns in Karachi outnumber their kin in Peshawar, Kandahar and Quetta combined, and equal almost one-third of the total population of KhyberPakhtunkhwa (Government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 2012). Karachi's projected population of 27.5m by 2020 (Qureshi, 2010) will not only surmount the total population of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa today, but make it the second largest city in the world. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.