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

Published: December 21, 2011
The 1998 census numbers showed that the metropolis accounts for 62 per cent of the urban population of the province. PHOTO: AGHA MEHROZ/FILE

The 1998 census numbers showed that the metropolis accounts for 62 per cent of the urban population of the province. PHOTO: AGHA MEHROZ/FILE


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.

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Reader Comments (18)

  • निखिल उत्तराखंडी
    Dec 21, 2011 - 11:51AM

    karachi is facing the same issue which across the border delhi is facing ,as karachi is now dominated by the urdu speaking muslim migrants of northern india delhi has literaly become a fiefdom of the hindu and sikh migrants who has left their deep influence in every sphere of delhi. and as nobody noticed how in a blink karchi got away from sindh the same effect was here when nobody noticed how apni delhi got converted into saddi dilli !!


  • Sajida
    Dec 21, 2011 - 12:28PM

    It is not Karachi’s fault Sindh Government doesn’t develop other cities. It is Sindh Government’s fault for not relieving Karachi of the pressure. Mr. Hasan has wrong end of stick.
    Is only energy of Mohajirs capable of having a dynamic city in Sindh? Time for Sindh Nationalists to prove they can create dynamic cities in interior.
    Deli is also being overburdened. In Delhi’s case NCR development hasn’t worked. NCR was intended to take migration pressure of Delhi and that hasn’t happened.


  • zK
    Dec 21, 2011 - 2:48PM

    Where are all those who claimed to turn Larkana into Paris…instead of whining, the sindhi nationalists should be more interested in the development of major cities in the interior of the province. Like it nor not ….MQM has played a MAJOR role in the development of this city and actually PROVED that they are worth every vote that they get here by their work and not in the name of dynasty’s!Recommend

  • Ali Chandio
    Dec 21, 2011 - 5:19PM

    Its been 60 years of self rule by the Sindhis in Sindh and none of the big wigs have ever thought of setting up any industries or Universities for the betterment of the Sindhi population. Blaming Karachi and the Mohajirs for their misery gets them the votes but then right after the elections they turn a blind eye towards the Sindhis. PPP and the Sindhi nationalists should start with building schools and industries in interior Sindh. MQM has delivered in urban Sindh and now the Sindhi nationalists should too. Realistically Sindhis need a city of their own where their language and culture can flourish without other influences.
    Larkana would be a good choice to develop a few industries and set up a few Universities and would serve as a vent for the Sindhis. Blaming Karachi and trying to pull its leg to sooth ourselves has not worked. The Khoros need to change course here and start planning but the keys is – without stepping on any toes.


  • Shahid
    Dec 21, 2011 - 6:56PM

    I am a karachite and urdu speaking.I have seen karachi grown over the years. We strongly believe that karachi is an integral part of sindh and we are all sindhis. We feel for people living in interior sindh with minimum of civil infrastructue and facilities but who is responsible for it ???. We are ready that extra budget allocation be made for interior sindh even on the cost of urban ares provide that real progress be made and money not wasted or stolen. Karachites have no quarrel with any body coming to karachi in search of a job or making a living.Everbody has thr right to struggle for thier betterment but we expect people to abide by law and not try to adopt to the needs of urban living i.e following traffic laws etc. The influx of people in karachi from Afghanistan,Bangladesh and upcountry has been so rapid that Karachi has turned into huge urban jungle. If we need to maintain peace in Karachi an urban mass transit system is vital which will serve everyone. It is also important that more funds be allocated to maintain basic civil structures i.e roads water supply and electricity. While we are a part of Sindh Karachi needs to have an independeny city government with jurisdiction over traffic and police.Most megapolis in the world is run that way. We expect every one to own Karachi and Sindha as thier own.


  • Dec 21, 2011 - 7:05PM

    The population of Karachi comprised of 300,000 (the figure normally quoted) persons in 1947. There was also a considerable number Goans who followed Jesus Christ and stuck to spoke their own language. Culturally their presence gave a cosmopolitan flavour to the city. Something that should not remain unmentioned.

    The problem of population cocentration, faced by Karachi (no water in whole of Lower Sindh pretty soon) were faced by many other cities of the world too. Rio de Janerio, Paris and Istanbul were the cities where a very high percentage of the population of the respective countries was concentrated. Despite the slowness of red tape, planning efforts bore fruit in the end. Other towns could develop which eased the pressure.

    This does not mean that an unacceptable amount of revenue generated by Karachi should be siphoned off. Civic amenities provided to the populace are among the lowest compared to other parts of the country and even worldwise. Recommend

  • Imran Hussain
    Dec 21, 2011 - 9:12PM

    Karachi has been sharing it’s wealth and resources not only with Sindh but with the whole country for last 64 years. This mega and port city of Pakistan has faced discrimination from the governments since the creation of Pakistan and no body took interest in the development of Karachi.
    So, please experts read the history first and then give your opinion.
    Imran Hussain


  • pipilia
    Dec 21, 2011 - 10:22PM

    Why is it that the feudals of Sindh’s rural areas prevent any sort of development there and instead steal resources generated by Karachites?


  • Saleem
    Dec 22, 2011 - 4:04AM

    Being the only Port of Pakistan, as development progressed across the country Karachi flourished. That attracted migrants from all over the county as well as from across the border. That caused host of problems for Karachi ranging from clean water, housing, schooling, infrastructure, jobs. A blame game started that Islamabad was not doing enough to solve Karachi’s problem. In fact, local government and all those who were responsible for day to day operation of the city were from Karachi and still didn’t do much either.

    Now different ethnic groups blame each other for Karachi’s problem. But they forget that creation of Pakistan created opportunities across the country and being the Karachi being port city was the biggest magnet for those jobs. I see Karachi’s problems minuscule as compared what we all have to suffer if Pakistan has not become an independent country. Rather than a blame game we all have to learn to manage our problems.


  • Dec 22, 2011 - 6:46AM

    Wonder if Mr.Hasan has read Steve Inskeep’s Instant City: Life and Death in Karachi.

    Problems are complex and deep. It’ll take a lot of good ethics, education, strong faith and hard work from a lot of different people and communities to build institutions and get things organized for all.

    There are some like that, mostly from Karachi. Unfortunately, even there and elsewhere, many lack these qualities, give way to mistrust, tribal prejudices, etc, and the situation is compounded by selfish corrupt or abusive personalities at all levels throughout the city, province, if not, country.


  • Syed
    Dec 22, 2011 - 6:21PM

    Karachi Generates Countries 60-70% National revenue, Consists of more than 10% of countries population, around 50% of Sindh Population. Get measely (i think) around 5 % of national OR i think 20-30% of Provincial budget, STILL you ask to share !!!
    Are you freaking kidding me?!?!


  • Sajida
    Dec 23, 2011 - 2:42AM

    From 1999, something Mr. has should read.

    Collective efforts needed to improve the mega city, the only source of revenue collection for economic development


  • Sajida
    Dec 23, 2011 - 3:57AM

    Here’s a thought Mr. Hasan: why shouldn’t Karachi have provincial status? After there are important cities in Asia who have this status and since the country relies so heavily on the city, should it not have the same importance as a province. ow can you depend so much on a city and not give it respect it deserves?


  • bilal-human-muslim-paki-sindhi
    Dec 24, 2011 - 5:28AM

    lov’d the article so true !! im a sindhi !!


  • Sajida
    Dec 26, 2011 - 5:15AM

    @Bilal Do read this:

    Collective efforts needed to improve the mega city, the only source of revenue collection for economic development

    Of course f you want to keep the blinkers on, continue to the detriment of Sindh!


  • USMANm
    Jan 11, 2012 - 7:39AM

    Urdu speaking people, show love and compassion for Sindhis.
    Sindhis, show love and compassion for Urdu-speaking people.

    Then be objective, find the root cause and resolve the core issues whether it is poor governance by the province or city or nation.

    we have only two choices: work together or perish together.


  • Ali Hamza Khan
    Jan 11, 2012 - 5:46PM

    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.Recommend

  • Saleem
    Jan 11, 2012 - 8:11PM

    @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.


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