US magazine terms Karachi 'most dangerous megacity' in the world

Published: September 8, 2013
"From 2000 to 2010, Karachi's population grew more than 80 percent. That's roughly equivalent to adding more than New York City's entire population in just a decade. PHOTO: FILE

"From 2000 to 2010, Karachi's population grew more than 80 percent. That's roughly equivalent to adding more than New York City's entire population in just a decade. PHOTO: FILE

A US magazine ‘Foreign Policy’ has termed Karachi “the most dangerous megacity” in the world.

In a piece on Karachi’s role in the global trade of methamphetamine — an illegal psychostimulant — Foreign Policy cited a murder rate of 12.3 per 100, 000 residents, “some 25 percent higher than any other major city”.

Commenting on the recent pace of change in Karachi, the report states:

“From 2000 to 2010, Karachi’s population grew more than 80 percent. That’s roughly equivalent to adding more than New York City’s entire population in just a decade.”

The article says that “gangs tied to political parties have long operated in the poorer parts of the city, running extortion rings and land-grab schemes”, asserting that these factors have helped turn conditions in the city to one of the most fertile hotbeds for meth trade.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (56)

  • naazir
    Sep 8, 2013 - 10:29PM

    “US magazine” AND “most dangerous megacity”
    why is this so called news of a US magazine is so important? its just a magazine and probably from a list or around 20-30 mega cities they have concluded karachi is most dangerous on the basis of murder which according to them is 12 per 100,000 person which is 25 % around 2 per 100,000 person more. Common media grow up..


  • skhan
    Sep 8, 2013 - 10:30PM

    What about Chicago South-side or even Brooklyn, NY? This is a cheap magazine nobody buy!


  • MJ
    Sep 8, 2013 - 10:33PM

    Who says Pakistan is behind the rest of the developed world? We have a city on the top of the list!!


  • Saeed
    Sep 8, 2013 - 10:36PM

    Another jewel in our crown.. !


  • Dajjal
    Sep 8, 2013 - 10:42PM

    After All those years of finishing second to other failed states we are Finally Number 1 at something… Great team effort by Both Religious and Secular Political parties…


  • Asif Butt
    Sep 8, 2013 - 11:17PM

    Realistically and seriously speaking , it is the courage of the average/ordinary citizen of Karachi for decades . To live with such violence and risk of losing life any moment to the hands of random terror.

    The people of Karachi are very practical and efficient people.


  • Mj
    Sep 8, 2013 - 11:25PM


    I am sure you can prove you point better by quoting relevant stats, and btw, Foreign Policy is a well respected magazine, not some tabloid.


  • moderatist
    Sep 8, 2013 - 11:25PM
  • rehman
    Sep 8, 2013 - 11:26PM

    When chicago and newyork have higher murder rates than karachi I thnk the us magazine should look in their own backyards than pakistan. Newyork is as unsafe at night as somalia. They hav more guns in america than mobile phones yet they want to lecture on security. There are ghetto areas in every us city which is unsafe for a normal person yet they think karachi is more dangerous. Its funny how much importance we give to this stupid mag.


  • Jibran
    Sep 8, 2013 - 11:31PM

    Nice ET! Very reliable source…. “Foreign Policy”… what is this magazine? Printed bimonthly from a garage? How much circulation? I guess the editor didn’t care to visit Detroit or Camden.


  • N Gandhi
    Sep 8, 2013 - 11:38PM

    its a cheap publicity stunt by US magazine to nominate such big developed city in their magazine…
    Tell us some thing New.. whole world knows what Karachi is very very peaceful place..


  • Ahmad
    Sep 8, 2013 - 11:47PM

    It’s alright we have Lahore, which is awesome!


  • piddler
    Sep 9, 2013 - 12:08AM

    Did they pay homage to Raymond Davis the CIA operator who supplied the weaspons and motor cycles to the killers


  • ground reality
    Sep 9, 2013 - 12:22AM

    Karachi is not even in the top 50 cities worldwide (which includes 4 US cities):


  • Educated
    Sep 9, 2013 - 12:28AM

    Is everyone here a fool? Foreign policy is a highly respected magazine. People who make decisions read it, not the followers.


  • Err
    Sep 9, 2013 - 1:18AM

    Ahem @Jibran @Rehman.. it would have been easier had you just googled “foreign policy” and found out its a fairly well reputed magazine before embarrassing yourselves..


  • pak_liberal
    Sep 9, 2013 - 1:19AM

    For all the ignorant people commenting above, Foreign Policy is a prestigious magazine founded by Samuel Huntington (of Clash of Civilisation theory fame? and the list of contributors is amazing include some of the most prestigious names. So unless you live under the rock, you do not refute the FP Magazine.


  • Plaintalk
    Sep 9, 2013 - 1:25AM

    Residents of Camden, Brooklyn, New York and Chicago would love to move to a safer city like Karachi. In fact, there are long lines at the Pakistani consulate with Americans wanting a green passport. You can about it in last week’s Mad Magazine.


  • Aysha M
    Sep 9, 2013 - 1:35AM

    So this is what it is all about.
    Yes do bite the hand that feeds you


  • Bait
    Sep 9, 2013 - 2:10AM

    It’s actually a decent article about the growing role of Karachi in the meth trade, which is what ET should probably be reporting on. It also has some interesting anecdotes of Zia-ul-Haq smuggling heroin into the US.,0


  • Sidster
    Sep 9, 2013 - 2:20AM

    It is okay to support your homeland and city, but to close your eyes from all crime occurring in Karachi is like living in a fools paradise. In the 80, NYC murder rate was 2000 murders in a year, but situation change when people allowed Police to do its work. Now we are the safest city in the world. Instead of looking arou d to adopt good technique to fight, people are criticizing the magazine for bias reporting. There is no excuse of your idiocy from Pakistan. May Allah guide you guys to the right path, Ameen.


  • darbullah
    Sep 9, 2013 - 2:32AM

    Atlast, we are at the top in something. To those intelligent persons commenting about the reliability of the magazine that published this article, the investors and tourists will make decisions based on it as the rest of the world cares about its safety more than piety.


  • numbersnumbers
    Sep 9, 2013 - 2:35AM

    But your keyboard ran out of ink before you could provide all of us credible references to support your comment that the “CIA provided weapons and motorcycles to the killers”!!!!


  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Sep 9, 2013 - 3:23AM

    @skhan and other like minded fellows. You are right that Chicago and NY are dangerous cities. Infact Karachi is number ten most violent city of the world. Baghdad, Mogadisho, Cape Town are more violent. The most violent city in the world is Caracas (Venezuela) in which murder rate is 158 per 100000, far higher than Karachi (12.5 per 100000), but we cannot just ignore the report of Foriegn Policy Magazine and start justifying situation in Karachi. Chicago and N.Y. could be dangerous but Police and other law enforcement agencies are still in full control of these cities. Police would never surrender or refuse to fight criminals, which happens so many times in Karachi. Beside total breakdown of law and order, there are hundereds of No Go areas in Karachi. Terrorists and criminals have their own justice system, which is impossible to imagine in N.Y. and Chicago. You will understand the difference with following example. Chicago, N.Y. and Cape Town are dangerous cities but still millions of foreign tourists visit these cities every year.


  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Sep 9, 2013 - 3:34AM

    @ground reality:
    Friend, please focus on word ‘Mega”. Karachi is a Megacity like Beijing, Shanghai, Tokoyo, Mexico city, Istanbul etc There are more violent cities than Karachi but in megacities, Karachi tops the list. Karachi is bigger than many countries.


  • rehman
    Sep 9, 2013 - 3:36AM

    @Err: actually I know the magazine and have been visiting it since the last five years and I know how bigoted and biased they are in their reporting. They are the inventors of the word ‘failed’ state giving india a higher ranking than china when you know india is in a much more dire state. They are an american neocon sympathiser magazine made for war proliferation against anyone against western secular and political system. No wonder china is given a lower ranking. And pakistan since is considered a threat cuz of its nukes is always written in a bad way.


  • Observer
    Sep 9, 2013 - 4:03AM


    “What about Chicago South-side or even Brooklyn, NY? This is a cheap magazine nobody buy!”

    There is no comparison between Karachi and the US cities you mention. Sure, those US cities have rough neighborhoods where a lot of crime takes place. It is small and localized gang related drug use and murders.

    But, in Karachi, there is daily wholesale communal warfare going on with bombings, machine gun firing, grenade throwing, shootings, riots, burning buses &cars, destruction of public and private property on a large scale, murdering national leaders, bombing of mosques etc.,


  • Bushra Banshe
    Sep 9, 2013 - 4:42AM

    Why are we Pakistanis so defensive instead of digesting the facts that Karachi is now known as the killing fields of Pakistan the country that played host to the most wanted our dear Osama Bin Laden they are attacking the magazine and trying to diverts the sad statics of the killing & mayhem. Karachi wallas walk numb in a daze not knowing a simple day might end tragic, the rich Pakistanis are shielded by their bullet proof vehicles & body guards & the poor just play Russian roulette with their lives trying to save alive.
    In the Pakistan psyche transferring the guilt is a national pastime, we have allowed Karachi to sink into the depths of bombings, machine gun firings, grenade throwing, shootings, riots burning buses & cars, kllings of Shia, Sunni, minorites & bombing of churches & mosques and yet we need to question crime rates else where. The situation will not change in Karachi because the will of the people of Karachi is simply not there!


  • Jawad Siddiqui
    Sep 9, 2013 - 4:54AM

    Thank you for educated some of the uninformed commentators here.
    @other fools
    New York is far safer than Karachi which Observer points out succinctly.


  • Aysha M
    Sep 9, 2013 - 5:23AM

    Transcend party lines and demand a powerful, independent and effective city government.
    Cold calculated callousness of the provincial and federal government has brought our city to this all time low. Only Karachiites can fix Karachi and take it to pre-Zia era. so GET UP KARACHI


  • Skhan
    Sep 9, 2013 - 8:03AM

    People commenting are so naive thinking karachi is dangerous!!! Please visit Central or south America and you will touch your ears… !!! How about mexico city?


  • Sexton Blake
    Sep 9, 2013 - 10:00AM

    Although I do not wish to live in Karachi right now, and it does need to clean up its act, I think we need to examine the statistics given by Foreign policy magazine carefully. Many countries have a death rate not that much lower than Karachi, and many are higher.. Karachi is also expanding very quickly and security usually takes time to catch up. If one looks at statistics in some suburbs in safe European countries violence can be alarming. In many countries in Africa and South America the violent death rate is double that of Karachi, and of course in many US cities I would not go out at night for a walk. Obviously, Pakistan is experiencing problems generally with several disparate groupings who violently disagree with each other for reasons I do not fully understand. Hopefully the situation will quieten down over time. In the meantime the best Pakistanis can do, particularly in Karachi, is attempt to stay away from the violence, which of course can be difficult.


  • jheenga
    Sep 9, 2013 - 4:35PM

    What’s the most powerful force in the world? Of denial.


  • jheenga
    Sep 9, 2013 - 4:37PM

    @N Gandhi

    What have you been smoking?


  • Lala
    Sep 9, 2013 - 6:02PM

    After all who bothered about karachi ! With no international tourist, its not so important if the city is dangerous or not.Recommend

  • Ejaz
    Sep 9, 2013 - 6:36PM

    A place is labelled as most dangerous when you are encountered with an accident, otherwise all places are peaceful. Judging from distance is an illusion.


  • excalibur
    Sep 9, 2013 - 7:51PM

    The Same magazine had also placed Mustafa Kamal in the TOP THREE BEST MAYORS WORLDWIDE S there !


  • Thomas Teckler Florida USA
    Sep 9, 2013 - 10:29PM

    No Ametican airlines come to Pakistan reason security*
    No foreign tourist dare to tread **Pakistan
    their security is in danger.
    High tech would love to expand their branches to hire very educated and talented men and women of Pakistan also to send them for higher studies invite them to immigration then enhance their financial stability but they cannot because of Security reasons. So who does it hurt? India & other nations profit by the inability of Pakistan to remove it from one of the most dangerous nations. Pakistan was never such a dangerous region but instead of putting their focus on this Pakistani and their leaders refuse to change the dynamics of violence. Pakistan could be in line with India it has tremendous potential to change the quality of life for its people with foreign investments the economy would improve, poverty could be reduced, youth can be employed and pursue studies tourism can open a new front as Pakistan most beautiful landscape can bring in tourist rupees. With this huge hope for advantage why is Pakistan slipping into a nation of the most dangerous in Asia?


  • Raja Islam
    Sep 10, 2013 - 12:12AM

    Whatever the magazine is, it would be hard for you to deny that Karachi is one of the most dangereous cities in the world if not the most dangereous one.


  • indi
    Sep 10, 2013 - 1:29AM

    who cares… its useless city which lacks basic infra like decent buses…


  • MJ
    Sep 10, 2013 - 5:21AM

    @Thomas Teckler: Before the involvement of US/Russia in Afghanistan and puppet military leaders like Zia-ul-Haq who formulated Pakistani policies to benefit other countries rather than keeping Pakitan’s interest at the forefront, Pakistan was a much safer conuntry. Locals and foreigners could easily go to the remote areas. Tourism was flourishing and there was no religious fanaticism. Universities were few but had higher standards. Families could go out late at night and enjoy the beaches and parks without any danger to their well being. Thanks to US/Saudi/Pakistani policies average and peaceful Pakistani are paying the price by their blood. All the criminals and mercenaries from the Muslim world were concentrated in our region by design and Pakistan has never been the same since.


  • Sexton Blake
    Sep 10, 2013 - 6:52AM

    Unfortunately Foreign Policy magazine does not give current comparative statistics, so without them comments tend to be like comparing apples with oranges. However, it is interesting to note that in the US deaths from guns alone are approximately 1,0000 per month. This is not a put-down of the US or Karachi. Merely an indication that violence is endemic in many countries.


  • Thomas Teckler
    Sep 10, 2013 - 7:56AM

    @MJ your point is well taken, but alas we cannot change past history mired with mistakes. The point is what are you and fellow Pakistanis doing now the situation in Karachi is the worst in all the major cities of your nation. For the locals to live in sub humane conditions is something you all should not allow. This bloodsport of life in Karachi should not be easily accepted! The lives of your family is in danger the situation is getting caustic by the moment when is enough?


  • Siddiqui
    Sep 10, 2013 - 11:39AM

    Michigan, Detroit has a murder rate of 48.2% per 100,000 people, New Orleans has a murder rate of 57%, Newark, New Jersey had a murder rate of 33.8 per 100,000 people. Kansas City, Missouri has a murder rate of 23%. Florida has a murder rate of 16.8%. Ohio 21%. Georgia, Atlanta 20.7 %, and the list goes on. Karachi is much safer than these places in the United States.


  • Milind
    Sep 10, 2013 - 1:08PM

    I recall reading a report in the Pakistani Newspaper ‘Dawn’ a few years back, how the UAE Arabs were insecure about Karachi’s rise eclipsing Dubai. They scuttled plans for Karachi to ensure it remained where it was or went in a downward spiral, with the connivance of the Pakistani politicos. This angle must not be ignored by those who blame Afghan war for all the problems in KArachi.Recommend

  • chaudhry
    Sep 10, 2013 - 3:26PM

    bcoz its FP magazine , just in case you know where it stands in the best , right on top.


  • Tahir Naseem
    Sep 10, 2013 - 3:34PM

    Despite all the mess in Karachi stock exchange and property prices are hiking. Can any one tell me about the logic please?


  • Ali S
    Sep 10, 2013 - 6:57PM

    Meth operations in Karachi? Wow, this city’s breaking bad.


  • James
    Sep 10, 2013 - 7:22PM

    Where did you get your facts.Here are the figures from the Guardian.They are certainly not what you have mentioned. though the statistics are old there could not be such a vast jump of the murder rate in US


  • Saeeba Fahim
    Sep 10, 2013 - 7:58PM

    @siddiqui so cut & paste from Wikipedia is the new form of *DENIAL?when will Karachi wallas accept their own destiny?


  • KSS
    Sep 10, 2013 - 8:14PM


    In a piece on Karachi’s role in the global trade of methamphetamine — an illegal psychostimulant – Foreign Policy cited a murder rate of 12.3 per 100, 000 residents, “some 25 percent higher than any other major city”.

    Must read the news report properly before making comments:-

    Report says it’s 25% higher than any other major city. i.e. 12.3 per 100,000 is 25% higher, not saying 12.3 percent is 25%.



  • Zeeshan Zaidi
    Sep 15, 2013 - 11:17AM

    Its most dangerous place from 2 decades why its take to long to judge that and its wont get better


  • Bakhtiyar Ghazi Khan
    Sep 15, 2013 - 6:03PM

    One reason: MQM


  • achughtai
    Sep 25, 2013 - 3:43AM

    Karachi is also very tolerant, diverse and dynamic of the mega cities absorbing one million newcomers a year; no other city is like her.
    Long story but the arms in Karachi are mostly the US doing( against their enemy the Russians)


  • Sexton Blake
    Sep 25, 2013 - 4:30PM

    Dear Numbers,
    And I suppose you will require credible, documented evidence, provided by the US Lahore Embassy, that Mr. Raymond Davis murdered two men by shooting them in the back. Also, you will want credible evidence that Chicago had a murder rate of 30 per 100,000 in 1992, whereas Karachi has a murder rate of only 12.3 per 100,000. However, it is easy to find out for yourself. All you have to do is sit in front of a keyboard and type your request. After that press enter, and voila the results will come up on your screen. You see, it really is quite simple, and that way you do not have to keep bothering people.


  • David
    Sep 29, 2013 - 11:05AM

    Mexico City not bad. I been there a couple times. There are many museums, ancient Aztec ruins, lots to see and do. But it’s a maze and I get lost without a gps map. There have been kidnappings and murders. But it’s not a daily news story there. Mexico and USA are a pleasure to visit actually. I recommend anyone visit any city in either country. I have driven over 7000 miles thru Mexico on vacation there for a bit over a month. I would bet you will not only survive your visit but really enjoy your stay.


More in Pakistan