Saturday, April 27, 2013

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

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Friday, April 19, 2013

Heli Skiing in Pakistan

The Karakoram is home to the highest concentration of peaks over 8,000 meters high to be found anywhere on earth, including K2, the second highest peak of the world (8,611 m/28,251 ft). K2 is just 237 m (778 ft) lower than the 8,848 m (29,029 ft) tall Mount Everest. The range is about 500 km (311 mi) in length, and is the most heavily glaciated part of the world outside the polar regions.

Pakistani Mountaineer Samina Baig

While Mount Everest is considered the tallest peak at 8,848 meters (29,029 feet), it is K2, believed to be the second tallest at 8,611 meters (28,251 ft), that is documented as the most dangerous. In fact, there have been rumors circulating in the mountaineering world that new measurements show that K2 is actually taller than Everest. Rumors that it might actually be much, much higher - 12 feet taller than Everest - began in 1987 after a British expedition measured K2 and found it to be 29,041 feet. If confirmed, this new measurement, along with the greater challenge of K2, could hurt significant tourist revenue stream of Nepal and bring it to Pakistan.


Malam Jabba Ski Resort in Swat, Pakistan

In contrast to Mt. Everest summit's total of 3,681 successful climbs, only 280 climbers have reached the K2 summit. "It's enormous, very high, incredibly steep and much further north than Everest which means it attracts notoriously bad weather," says Britain's most celebrated mountaineer Sir Chris Bonnington, who lost his colleague Nick Escourt in an avalanche on K2's western side during an expedition in 1978. In 1986 13 climbers were killed in a week when a vicious storm stranded numerous expeditions. It is often said that if you were to summit K2 with a climbing partner, it is best to say your goodbyes well ahead the descent, because the statistics claim that one of the two will not come back alive. 46% of the attempts end in death, most during descent, according to a K2 climbers website. The fatality rate for those who reach the summit at 27% is about three times higher than that for Mount Everest, according to BBC.

Here's a recent CNN video report on heli skiing in the Karakorams:



Heli-skiing in Karakoram Mountains of Pakistan - CNN from Badar Khushnood on Vimeo.

Here's PTV News video on heli skiing event in Gilgit-Bltistan:


Report on First Ever Heli-Skiing Event in Pakistan from Shabbir Ahmad Wahgra on Vimeo.


Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Climbing K2-The Ultimate Challenge

Life of a Siachen Soldier

Extreme Kayak Adventures in Pakistan

Resilient Pakistan Defies Doomsayers

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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

International Consumer Brand Names Find Success in Pakistan's Retail Sector

Consumer spending in Pakistan has increased at a 26 percent average pace the past three years, compared with 7.7 percent for Asia, according to data compiled by Euromonitor International, a consumer research firm. Pakistan's rising middle class consumers  in major cities like Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad are driving sales of international brand name products and services.  Real estate developers and retailers are responding to it by opening new mega shopping malls such as Dolmen in Karachi and Centaurus in Islamabad.

Dolmen City, Clifton, Karachi


Here's a recent video of a CNN report on "British Brand Invasion" from Dolmen Mall in Clifton district of Karachi:



 http://edition.cnn.com/video/#/video/world/2013/04/01/mohsin-bristish-brands-in-pakistan.cnn

Pakistan has continued to offer much greater upward economic and social mobility to its citizens than neighboring India over the last two decades. Since 1990, Pakistan's middle class had expanded by 36.5% and India's by only 12.8%, according to an ADB report titled "Asia's Emerging Middle Class: Past, Present And Future.


A string of strong earnings announcements by Karachi Stock Exchange listed companies and the Central Bank's 1.5% rate cut have already helped Karachi's KSE-100 index surge nearly 50% (37% in US $ terms) in 2012 to top all Asian market indices. It was followed by Bangkok's SET index which advanced 36%. It also easily beat India's Sensex index which was the top performer among BRICs with 25.19% annual gain.


Dolmen Mall Clifton Featured on CNN from DHAToday on Vimeo.



Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan's Construction Boom

Educational Attainment in Pakistan

Pakistan Among Top Outsourcing Countries

Foreign Visitors to Pakistan Pleasantly Surprised

Pakistan's Infrastructure and M2 Motorway

India Pakistan Comparison 2011

Resilient Pakistan Defies Doomsayers


FMCG Consumption Boom in Rural Pakistan

Pakistan Visits Open  Indian Eyes

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