Karachi Achieves Top Spot Among World's Cities

With rapid urbanization in Pakistan, Karachi has become the world's biggest city with a metro area population of 18 million people, according to Citymayors stats published recently.

Karachi (Urdu: کراچی, Sindhi: ڪراچي, Karāchi) is followed by Mumbai, Delhi, Buenos Aires, Seoul, Jakarta, Manila, Sao Paulo, Shanghai and Istanbul making up the top 10 list. Bangladesh capital Dhaka is at number 12, barely missing a top 10 slot. Of these, Mumbai, Dhaka and Delhi also have the dubious distinction of making Mercer's list of world's dirtiest cities. In another survey, Mercer has ranked Karachi as the fourth cheapest city for expatriates.

The list of the world’s largest cities, by land area, is headed by New York Metro, with a total area of 8,700 square kilometers. Tokyo/Yokohama is in second place with almost 7,000 square kilometers, followed by ten cities from the United States. Mumbai (Bombay), with a population density of almost 30,000 people per square kilometer, is the world’s most crowded city. Kolkata (Calcutta), Karachi and Lagos follow behind.



In 2008, the US based NPR radio did a series on Karachi titled "Karachi: The Urban Frontier". It highlighted the following facts about Karachi:

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 data for 1999-2009 shows that Karachi share market significantly outperformed Hong Kong, Mumbai and Shanghai markets). The city's main industries include shipping, trade, finance, banking, information technology, manufacturing, real estate, media and education.

4. Like any big city, it 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.

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.

Here are some figures for Karachi population I received from the editors of citymayors.com:

YEAR Urban Population
1856 56,875
1872 56,753
1881 73,560
1891 105,199
1901 136,297
1911 186,771
1921 244,162
1931 300,799
1941 435,887
1951 1,068,459
1961 1,912,598
1972 3,426,310
1981 5,208,132
1998 9,269,265
2006 13,969,284
2007 14,500,000

Since Karachi population has been growing at about 4-6% a year recently, the 18 million figure for Karachi in 2009 makes sense.

The mayors of the world’s twenty largest cities are each responsible for more people than most national prime ministers. For example, London, ranked 20th in the world, has more residents than nations like Paraguay, Denmark, New Zealand or Ireland, and if Karachi, globally the largest city, was a country it would rank above Greece, Portugal or Hungary. The combined population of the world’s eight megacities - cities with more than 10 million inhabitants - comfortably exceeds that of Germany.



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. 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. 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, making Pakistan's grass roots democracy more viable and responsive to the needs of the people. 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.

With Pakistan already the most urbanized country in South Asia, Karachi's population has been growing at a rate of over 4 percent a year for decades, according to the editors at Citymayors.com. Karachi now accounts for about 12 percent of the nation's population, and Mustafa Kamal as its mayor is accountable to a larger population than the presidents or prime ministers of many nations of the world. As the nation continues to experience increasing rural-to-urban migration, the jobs of the big city mayors in Pakistan, particularly Karachi and Lahore, are becoming significantly more important and challenging than generally recognized. How these mayors deal with these challenges will largely determine the fate of the nation, in terms of education, health care, housing, transportation, industrial and service sectors' growth, job growth and overall economic activities, as well as the future of democracy.

When visitors see a squatter city in India or Pakistan or Bangladesh, they observe overwhelming desperation: rickety shelters, 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.

In a recent interview published by Wired Magazine, Stewart Brand, "the pioneering environmentalist, technology thinker", and founder of the Whole Earth Catalog focused on the positive aspects of urban slums. Brand also made a counterintuitive case that the booming slums and squatter cities around the major urban centers in the developing world are net positives for poor people and the environment. Brand's arguments make a lot of sense, as long as there are representative city governments responsive to the growing needs of the new and old city residents.

Related Links:

Karachi Tops Mumbai in Stock Performace

Eleven Days in Karachi

Citymayors website

Pakistan Most Urbanized in South Asia

Karachi: The Urban Frontier

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

Comments

Riaz Haq said…
Here are some excerpts from a BBC report on violence in Karachi:

According to human rights organisations, 775 people died in political and sectarian shootings and bomb attacks in Karachi in 2010. ...
And although thousands are killed every year in the north-west, the impact of the violence in Karachi is arguably no less important. The city is Pakistan's commercial hub.
Business losses
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Karachi provides 70% of the total annual tax revenue collected by the government.
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The violence has been largely fuelled by antagonism between the local chapters of three political parties: the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), the mostly Pashtun Awami National Party (ANP) and the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM).
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The MQM remains Karachi's dominant political party and represents the city's majority Urdu-speaking community - the descendants of Muslim migrants to India at the time of partition in 1947.

In December 2010, Sindh Home Minister Zulfiqar Mirza accused the MQM of being mainly responsible for the extortion and targeted killings prevalent across the city.

Within 48 hours, an enraged MQM withdrew its support for the PPP-led coalition in Islamabad.

The only reason the government could hold onto power was because opposition parties did not bring a no-confidence motion against the government.

The MQM has since been coaxed back into the coalition and now holds the political balance.

However, tensions remain with the ANP and the PPP.
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In Karachi, all three parties have been involved in stoking ethnic passions.
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Thousands were arrested; many were were later killed in what human rights organisations and the Pakistan media said were staged killings by security forces.

The MQM fought back - and was held responsible for a number of murders of police and security officials

The party said it was targeted by a conservative security establishment for its liberal politics and for fighting for the rights of the Urdu-speaking community.

Things changed under the government of President Pervez Musharraf and the party now enjoys excellent relations with the establishment.

"The MQM's 'new deal' with the establishment is that its control of Karachi will remain unchallenged by the security establishment," a political analyst, who wished to remain unnamed, told the BBC.

"In return, the MQM will support the establishment's policies in the centre."

MQM insiders acknowledge this deal, although they insist the party will never vote for "anything against the spirit of its ideology".

Obviously, this deal stands as long as the MQM controls Karachi.

But since 2006, the party has been increasingly feeling the pressure exerted by the growth of the Pashtun community in the city.
Activists of the Labour Party Pakistan in Karachi in march 2011 Karachi is home to a bewildering number of political parties and campaigning groups

Arriving here in their thousands, the Pashtun newcomers are in competition for land and jobs with the Urdu-speaking community.

MQM leaders say these new arrivals must not be treated as long-term inhabitants of the city - a call at odds with its identity as a party of migrants.

They say that there is a link between the growth of the Pashtun community and the "Talibanisation" of parts of the city - the Taliban is predominantly made up of Pashtun people.

The MQM say they will resist this at all costs, and this bellicosity has led to violence which has claimed dozens of lives.

Some of it has also involved separate turf battles between Karachi's Baloch community - the original inhabitants of the city - and the MQM.

"It's a complex political and ethnic problem which needs to be handled with extreme care," says a local human rights activist.
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Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Newsweek piece by writer Kamila Shamsi about her native Karachi:

You can live in Karachi your entire life without ever glimpsing the sea. This fact would surely have astounded Alexander the Great’s general, Nearchus, who sailed from what was then a harbor known to the Greeks as Krokola; it would have doubtless come as an even greater surprise to the fisherwoman Mai Kolachi, from whom the port city likely derives its modern name. Until the mid-19th century, the city that has been called Krokola, Kolachi, Kurrachee, and Karachi was little more than a harbor or a fishing village, its existence based around the Arabian Sea. The British occupied it in 1839, at which time its population was between 8,000 and 14,000.

Population figures are hardly the most imaginative way to talk about the city, and yet with Karachi it is precisely the population figures that convey why it is impossible to hold the city within your imagination rather than grasping at fragments of it. Try to wrap your head around this: in 1947, at the time of Partition, more than half the city’s 400,000 inhabitants were Hindu, most of whom migrated (by choice or otherwise) to India, and yet, despite losing half its population, by 1951 the number of Karachiwallas had grown to more than a million. You lose 50 percent and still end up more than doubling the original population; this is mathematics Karachi style. Today the figure stands at somewhere between 15 million and 18 million.

While some cities rise up toward the sky in towers of concrete and steel to accommodate their growing populations, Karachi sprawls in ungainly fashion, covering 1,360 square miles. The old British cantonment area with its Gothic spires and Anglo-Mughal cupolas and art deco façades remained the center of the city until the 1960s; now it’s south of the center of south Karachi. You can live in Karachi and watch gulls swooping toward the blue-gray waves, or you can live miles inland in the shadow of barren hills, at danger from landslides. The city has a broad avenue called Sunset Boulevard, and it also has a slum named Mosquito Colony.
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You’ll often hear Karachiwallas say there’s nowhere else in Pakistan they can happily live. I’ve heard it said more frequently by its women than its men. Karachi is hardly free of patriarchy, but its women are more visible, and more often to be seen in positions of authority, than elsewhere in the country. In February, when the city’s most powerful, and controversial, political party, the MQM, called for a women’s rally, the numbers that gathered were so vast (estimates vary from several hundred thousand to 1 million) that the BBC declared it the largest congregation of women ever organized in the world. In a city where votes are divided primarily along ethnic lines, it was heartening to imagine we were witnessing a new kind of campaigning—one that placed gender in the political arena and gave teeth to the phrase “women’s vote.” It sounds fanciful to me, until I remember that for the right price, Karachi buys and sells everything, even dreams.


http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/03/11/kamila-shamsie-reflects-on-karachi-pakistan.html
Faeez Jazil said…
Exceptional Piece of work, bravo Sir.
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an APP report on proposed revival of Karachi Circular Railway:

The ECC which met here under the chairmanship of Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh was informed that Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has already agreed to provide 93.5pc ($2.4 billion) of the estimated cost through soft loan at a markup of 0.2pc payable in 40 years including 10 years grace period. The remaining 6.5pc ($169.6 million) will be borne by the Ministry of Railway (60pc equity), Government of Sindh (25pc equity) and the City District Government Karachi (15pc equity); the stakeholders of KUTC as per their share.



The track of the KCR will be 86 km long with 27 stations to be built around the city.



This important project will be a milestone in improving the quality of life of the citizens.



The ECC also approved the summary with special appreciation for the Ministry of Railways, the Government of Sindh and Karachi City Government for their efforts to get approved the most economic and viable project of Circular Railway for Karachi.





The ECC also discussed various agenda items of national importance. The following decisions were taken in the meeting;



At the outset of the meeting the ECC members offered special prayers for departed soul of Senior Minister of the KPK Government Mr. Bashir Bilour who lost his life in a terrorist attack in Peshawar recently.



The ECC prayed to Almighty God for resting the departed soul in eternal peace and for granting courage to the bereaved family to bear this precious loss.



Ministry of Railways moved a summary seeking the approval of the ECC for waiver of on-lending charges to Karachi Urban Transport Corporation for the Project "Revival of Karachi Circular Railways as Modern Commuter System".



Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has already agreed to provide 93.5pc (US$2.4 billion) of the estimated cost through soft loan at a markup of 0.2pc payable in 40 years including 10 years grace period.



The remaining 6.5pc (US$169.6 million) will be borne by the Ministry of Railway (60pc equity), Government of Sindh (25pc equity) and the City District Government Karachi (15pc equity); the stakeholders of KUTC as per their share.



The track of the KCR will be 86 km long and 27 stations will be built around the city.



This important project will be a milestone in improving the quality of life of the citizens.



The ECC approved the summary with special appreciation for the Ministry of Railways, the Government of Sindh and Karachi City Government for their efforts to get approved the most economic and viable project of Circular Railway for Karachi.



The ECC also approved a summary by Ministry of Railways for changes in the composition of Business Express.



Ministry of Railways submitted a summary for ECC approval back in July 2012.


http://www.brecorder.com/top-news/1-front-top-news/98665-ecc-approves-revival-of-karachi-circular-railways-.html
Riaz Haq said…
Karachi is the world's fastest growing megacity, according to Forbes magazine.

http://www.forbes.com/pictures/edgl45fdfe/no-1-karachi-pakistan/

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