Karachi cannot swallow Sindh, it must learn to share, says expert

Prominent town planner explains obstructions to constructing a suitable local govt system.

Express December 20, 2011


Karachi has become too big for Sindh. It has almost eaten up the province.

These were the words of Arif Hasan, the city’s best-known town planner, who has also documented its demographic changes. He was speaking at a seminar organised by the Urban Resource Centre on Tuesday at a time when the two key coalition partners are struggling to craft a local government system that is equally acceptable to Sindh’s urban and rural populations.

The changing demographics of Karachi have engendered a sense of deprivation among the Sindhis – they feel that the city is being developed at the expense of the rest of the province, he said. “The Urdu-speaking people feel that Tuglaq House [Sindh secretariat] is inaccessible to them and the Sindhis don’t feel at home with local government institutions,” he added.

The 1998 census numbers showed that the metropolis accounts for 62 per cent of the urban population of the province.

About 70 years ago, people who spoke Sindhi, Balochi, Seraki and Gujrati made up 73 per cent of city’s population. “In 1998, that number plummeted to 13 per cent. Urdu was spoken by just six per cent back in 1941. But this figure jumped up to 48.5 per cent in 1998,” Hasan said

He ascribed the complexity of the problem to the migration of people from other parts of the country. “There is no easy solution. Everyone has to make some sort of compromise.”

He urged schools and hospitals in Karachi that are run by the local government to open their doors to people from rural areas without any discrimination. “I strongly believe that municipal service delivery should be in hands of elected mayors and councilors. But an independent bureaucracy is also needed to keep an eye on them,” said Hasan.

Notwithstanding the development of the city, he said there were fewer complaints of discrimination when a city was run by administrators.

If the developed areas of the city insist that more money be spent on them for their contribution to taxes, then the poor localities will long for better services, he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 21st, 2011.


Saleem | 9 years ago | Reply

@Ali Hamza Khan:

Sorry, the numbers that you are quoting are not correct. They include revenue generated by “Port” as well. The activity at the port is from all over Pakistan and Afghanistan.

If you look around the world, wherever there is a port it has created a city around it as it is a magnet of jobs. Also, proximity to port makes it easier for exports as well as import. That is why after partition people started settling in Karachi as being the only port it became hub of economic activity.

So this notion that Karachi is producing more than half the revenues of the country is naïve and being pushed by certain elements for their personal gains. Pakistan belongs to Pakistanis and for its prosperity regionalism must go away.

Ali Hamza Khan | 9 years ago | Reply Lol these experts make us laugh.Karachi has been the sole contributing factor in progress since Pakistan's inception.It generates 60% revenue;has the highest tax paying citizenship,and the working hours for the people would be highest from Karachi.Assimilation of these facts,and the fact that it gets very little in return implies that Karachi is already overburdened and rather providing in excess of what it should.Maybe its time for the rest to step up as well.The Urdu-speaking people have contributed their part,the rest of Sindh should now step up to challenges.Like it or not,MQM has helped bring a change and for those whining and wailing,its time for a reality check.Urdu-speakings are too aware of what goes around now to let themselves be played on a single cause when their own interests have always been compromised.How about give Karachi and Hyderabad a provincial status first?Afterall,we too are Pakistanis and stats suggests,we have contributed majorly.Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan,Edhi,Agha Hasan Abedi to name very few could enlighten minds.
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