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Karachi - largest city of Pakistan.

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.

Nowhere are these tensions more likely to find their origins than in the mass movement of the people mostly from rural to urban areas whose benefits outweigh the negative factors i.e. growth rates which are excessive, side by side there are rapidly expanding slums which lack even the most basic facilities like sanitation and other basic needs which exist side by side along with high expectations among the empty handed youth results into expectations that are rarely realised leading to resentment, frustration, crime and political unrest.

It may be mentioned that people accommodate to poverty in rural areas in a way they do not in cities. In rural areas poverty is best defined as the possessions of little while in urban areas as non-possession of much!

So such problems as the one which prevail in Karachi become a matter of national attention mainly in an atmosphere where crimes, drugs and terrorism which have increasingly localized the area and which have resulted into challenging the authority of the family's elders and their leadership. The outcome is that the social structure has crumbled completely and the parental discipline broken down to bits; this has made the teenagers taking to streets - in return all this has led to loosen forces of social upheaval that invite strong authoritarian response from the political leaders.

In conclusion our analysis leads to the fact that there is a correlation between political instability and the presence of large youthful unemployed population in overcrowded areas with expectation for exceeding any likelihood of their realization. Similarly there is correlation between political instability and the intensity of ethnic and religious factors. Also there is a correlation between instability and widespread denial of basic needs necessary for maintaining proper living standard. Finally, there is a correlation between the potential for political upheaval and the presence of oppressive governments violating human rights in their efforts to control restive population. These tips may prove to be useful hints in evolving a solution for the prevailing problems of Karachi. [Tabular Data Omitted]
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Author:Manzoor, Nayyer
Publication:Economic Review
Date:Jul 1, 1990
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