Saturday, September 12, 2009

Urbanization in Pakistan Highest in South Asia

Urbanization is not just a side effect of economic growth; it is an integral part of the process, according to the World Bank. With the robust economic growth averaging 7 percent and availability of millions of new jobs created between 2000 and 2008, there has been increased rural to urban migration in Pakistan to fill the jobs in growing manufacturing and service sectors. The level of urbanization in Pakistan is now the highest in South Asia, and its urban population is likely to equal its rural population by 2030, according to a report titled ‘Life in the City: Pakistan in Focus’, released by the United Nations Population Fund. Pakistan ranks 163 and India at 174 on a list of over 200 countries compiled by Nationmaster.

Pakistan has and continues to urbanize at a faster pace than India. From 1975-1995, Pakistan grew 10% from 25% to 35% urbanized, while India grew 6% from 20% to 26%. From 1995-2025, the UN forecast says Pakistan urbanizing from 35% to 60%, while India's forecast is 26% to 45%. For this year, a little over 40% of Pakistan's population lives in the cities.

The urban population now contributes about three quarters of Pakistan's gross domestic product and almost all of the government revenue. The industrial sector contributes over 27% of the GDP, higher than the 19% contributed by agriculture, with services accounting for the rest of the GDP.

A 2008 report by UN Population Fund says the share of the urban population in Pakistan almost doubled from 17.4 percent in 1951 to 32.5 percent in 1998. The estimated data for 2005 shows the level of urbanization as 35 per cent, and CIA Factbook puts it at 36% in 2008, and it is increasing with 3% of the nation's population migrating to cities every year. With over 5 million rural migrants each year, the population of Pakistani cities in exploding, and Karachi has now become the world's largest city, according to

India's urban residents in 2008 account for 29% of its population, and the CIA Fact Book estimates it growing at 2.4% of the total population every year.

In 2007, analysts at Standard Chartered bank estimated that Pakistan has a middle class of 30 million which earns an average of about $10,000 per year. And adjusted for purchasing power parity (PPP), Pakistan's per capita GDP is approaching $3,000 per head. An expected positive consequence of the increasing urbanization of society in Pakistan will be the creation of over 100 million strong middle class by 2030. This large urban population will not only create a domestic market for goods and services, but it can create a skilled work force that can be the engine of economic growth and source of innovation.

According to the 1998 census, Sindh is the most urbanized province with 49 percent percent of the population living in urban centers. NWFP is the least urbanized province with only 17 percent of its population living in urban areas.

The shares of urban population in Punjab and Balochistan in 1998 were 31 and 23 percent respectively. There has been a visible narrowing down of the growth rate differentials among provinces, although the urban population in Balochistan and Islamabad has been increasing at higher rates of 5.1 and 5.8 percent respectively.

More than 60 percent of the population of urban Sindh lives in Karachi and this concentration has increased over time. Approximately three-quarters of the total urban population of Sindh are concentrated in just three urban centers: Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukkur. 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 sub-standard housing.

National Public Radio(NPR), an American radio network, did a series recently 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 called it "one of the largest and most crowded cities of the world".

In Punjab, 22 percent of the urban population lives in Lahore, and half of the total provincial urban population lives in five large cities.

Peshawar has a population of approximately one million without counting the Afghan refugees, which is 33 percent of the urban provincial population. The share of Quetta in the total urban Balochistan population was 37 percent.

More than half of the total urban population of Pakistan lived in 2005 in eight urban areas: Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi, Multan, Hyderabad, Gujranwala and Peshawar. Between 2000 and 2005, these cities grew at the rate of around 3 percent per year, and it’s projected that this growth rate will continue for the next decade.

Along with increasing internal rural to urban migration, there has also been a wave overseas migration from urban areas in Pakistan to urban centers overseas, especially the Middle East. The Middle East, with its vast oil wealth, has provided many opportunities for overseas workers to work and earn a living building and maintaining infrastructure in various Arab states, especially in the Persian Gulf. In recent years, overseas Pakistanis have been contributing to Pakistan's economy with remittances exceeding $7 billion a year.

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.

At the same time, there are many issues caused by the current wave of urbanization, including the fact that massive increases in urban population create more and larger urban slums, increase the potential for environmental deterioration, and bring tremendous pressures on city services already strained beyond limits. Take sanitation, for example, and it is no surprise that three major South Asian cities, Dhaka, Mumbai and New Delhi, show up on the Mercer's list of world's 25 dirtiest cities. Some non-government organizations, such as the Orangi Pilot Project (OPP) in Karachi, are stepping in to fill the huge gaps left by the municipal authorities. Under OPP guidance, between 1981 and 1993 Orangi residents installed sewers serving 72,070 of 94,122 houses. To achieve this, community members spent more than US$2 million of their own money, and OPP invested about US$150,000 in research and extension of new technologies.

Like any growing megacity in the developing world, Karachi has its share of problems. Pollution, crime, 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.

In a recent interview with Wall Street Journal, Pakistan's former finance minister Salman Shah explained that "Pakistan has to be part of globalization or you end up with Talibanization". "Until we put these young people into industrialization and services, and off-farm work, they will drift into this negative extremism; there is nothing worse than not having a job," Shah elaborated. But increasing urbanization in South Asia represents both a challenge and an opportunity for India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. It is a challenge because it imposes a rapidly growing burden on the already overcrowded megacities such as Mumbai, Delhi, Dhaka and Karachi. Such a massive challenge will require a tremendous focus on providing housing, transportation, schooling, healthcare, water, power, sanitation and other services at an accelerated pace. But if this challenge can be successfully met, there will be an opportunity to develop the human potential of the rural poor and employ them more productively in the growing industrial and services sectors in the cities. In the case of Pakistan, if the level of robust economic growth, human development and increased urbanization can be sustained to significantly enlarge the South Asian nation's middle class, then there can be hope for genuine and durable democracy to thrive.

Related Links:

UN Population Fund Report 2007

Urbanization Levels of Countries of the World

Eleven Days in Karachi

Karachi: The Urban Frontier

America's Best Run Cities

Urbanization Challenges in Pakistan

World's Dirtiest Cities

Karachi Fourth Cheapest for Expats

UN Population Growth Data

Cities and Environment

Pakistan's Choice: Talibanization or Globalization

Patterns of Urbanization in Pakistan


Suhail said...


Your article tends to portray a positive aspect of Pakistan, but in reality it is not so simple.
While urbanization is certainly an indication of the economic growth process, but this needs to be nurtured, protected and developed by the country's political system. In every country experiencing this phenomenon, the prevailing political system is rural dominated, where the rural elite obviously strives to retain their political hold to the detriment of the emerging urban classes. Since these urban classes account for almost all the state revenues, as also pointed out in your article, they have an inherent economic strength which they use to force their way into the country's political dispensation and governance. This is the normal way forward for any society but unfortunately not true of Pakistan where we see the urban classes as being totally naive when it comes to a realization of their own interests. Our 1973 constitution based parliamentary democracy gives a decisive hold on governance to the rural elite with no protection of urban interests. However, our intellectuals, media and almost all segments of the urban civil society keep advocating the continuation of the 1973 constitution, rather than demanding its repeal and replacement with a new constitution which is more in line with the changing times, can protect the interests of the urban population and in turn bring about the much needed economic growth in the country. Unless these urban classes get their act right, this urban emancipation will become, rather already becoming, a thing of the past resulting in a tremendous increase of impoverished among the urban populace.

So for Pakistanis this urban growth is not something to cherish, unless the urban population becomes wise enough to come out of their self-destructive instincts, strive to secure their interests, and in turn save the country from an economic disaster. A seemingly tall order beyond comprehension of the people to whom it should matter.

Shams said...

I do not agree with Riaz that Pakistan's population is 34% or so urbanized. Fact of the matter is that a very large majority of Pakistan's cities are no better than a f----- pind, full of paindoos. You can see examples of that in Karachi, 90% of which is only as good as any f---- pind.

The UN has also projected that half of the world's population would live in urban areas at the end of 2008. So Pakistan's 34% of so-called phony urbanziation has no significance even if we ignore the word's true meaning.

If you go to most of the smaller cities in Sindh, Punjab, Pakhtoonistan and Balochistan, the situation is even worse.

So, let's get our definition of "urbanization" straight before we talk of this at all. According to the United Nations, Urbanization is closely linked to modernization, industrialization and the "sociological process of rationalization". Which part of this definition has Riaz seen to be applicable in Pakistan's so-called urbanized areas.

However, you can take comfort in CIA's report that Pakistan's urban population is 38% end of 2008 and rate of increase is 3% annually.

Riaz Haq said...

Suhail and Shams,

When you visit Pakistani cities as I just did recently, you do see a lot of chaos, lawlessness and a general lack of civility and sanitation. The cities do not appear to be adequately managed, and the city folks display very little civic sense. But then you need to recognize that these cities are in a third world country and it is unfair to compare them with a first-world city or even a city in a more industrialized emerging nation like China or Malaysia. The better comparison is with India and Bangladesh whose cities (Mumbai, Delhi and Dhaka) are easily the world's dirtiest as recently confirmed by Mercer's list of 25 dirtiest cities published by Forbes.

As to the Pakistani urban middle class being self-destructive, I do agree with your assessment, Suhail. The discourse among the middle class such as as the lawyers and the media people as well as the city politicians is not only shallow but it is often unfocused, even irrelevant with respect to the core issues of economy, jobs, education and healthcare. And the behavior is much more uncivil than the discourse.

But I do think that, as the people mature with time, we will see an improvement in the situation and the current wave of urbanization will eventually be beneficial to the nation.

Anonymous said...

Looks like you like to look at superficial things Riaz. Its good to read what you have written and I am impressed by your data gathering.I have randomly come across your blog.

Infact Sikander and Suhail are very correct in their assessment of Pakistan than your reply. Optimism is very much needed but what your nation needs is reality check. I am from Hyderabad India. It is not the cleanest city but way way ahead than Karachi or even Tehran anyday. Infact it is area wise even bigger than Karachi though Population wise it is way smaller. But its industrial power and technology is many times ahead of Karachi which I understand is the largest city in Pakistan. Same with Bangalore. Major issues are inequal growth and political mistakes and tendency of population to stay together in cities. We cannot compare however with Pakistan cities or for that matter Bangladesh. First Pakistan is not any where close to India in size or diversity. It has a uniform muslim population with ethnic differences. Thats not India anyday anytime in comparision. The other issue is Pakistan at present faces existential threat with its decades old terrorism policies and islamic "
'misuse" I must say. Due to this , it faces even longer and serious problems than nations like Bangladesh where poverty is theonly issue. Infact many Pakistanis I met are seriously concerned about terrorism that has penetrated their nation- the very nation they have seeked to join to save themselves from Hindu domination. This issuealready has hampered Pakistans efforts to develop as nation as no one would like to invest in such atmosphere. Why this matters is that until multinational companies come, infratstructure will never develop. Pakistan -yes anyday has lesser woes than larger nations like India but its current quagmire is so serious that no other nation faces such impending disaster on the earth. Maybe somalia.
I see uniform trend in Pakistan leaders that they chose to talk of development before talking about basics such as governace, democracy and law . India is not ideal but thats where it is in another era compared to Pakistan. Pakistan cannot develop mega cities with out having political order and discipline in its society. Infact its like trying to build skyscrapers on foundations of sand. So far Pakistan has treaded this path with disastrous consequences but now is the time to sincerely evaluate where it stands and what it needs to do. That answer does not lie in clean cities but in having a serious and working political system that can keep religion outside. That is not a small issue by anymeans as it needs tolerance of highest degree.
There is severe confusion in several Pakistanis regarding what they want as nation and what system they need.Once they overcome this, there will be no stopping.
Now in US.

Suhail said...


To analyze Pakistan's urbanization better, you need to understand the local situation which cannot be compared with China or Malaysia. Under feudal systems, as in Punjab or Sindh (to be noted is followed nowhere else in the world now), almost all the rural land is owned by the landlords so obviously no one else can own a house, shop or property on it. The peasants living on the lands do not own the houses they're living in but are in fact themselves a possession of the landlord, even if a liability now. Some of the land in the vicinity is always outside any landlord's possession; this is either government land or, as now happens, land sold by landlords to developers etc. It is this land where all the growing population outside the peasant class build and own their homes, shops, businesses etc, and these people are what is now classified as "urban population" in various surveys etc. There is no structured system to drive industrial or urban growth in such places. While Shams's choice of words may lack sophistication and have an ethnic bias, what he's implying is not wrong altogether.

As regards getting rid of self-destructive tendencies, this can never be remedied by time alone as the word itself implies. A self destructive person or class or group, will destroy itself given enough time. To get out of this tendency, a change of mindset is required that can only be brought about by conscious efforts. In my opinion, these urban classes (particularly the middle classes) have survived, despite their self-destructive tendencies, because of intercessing military rule in between the democratic stints. Due to their self-destructive tendencies, during military rules they eventually lead the feudal elite back into power on the pretext of democracy. They've been lucky so far but cannot be forever.

Shams said...

(1) Pakistani cities are as nowhere close to "urban" as they were when I left it over thirty years ago.

(2) You still read of dead corpses floating in cities' water storage and railway oil tankers dropping their entire million gallon lubricants' load into cities' water supplies, with no one giving a shit for many, many days, while the water is as dirty as ever in the first place.

(3) In 2008, a study found Lahore's water supply to contain over one percent human feces.

(4) These cities are and will remain larger pinds, and just that.

Oops, I guess that were four cents.

Riaz Haq said...

I think you are being overly critical of Pakistani cities and urban middle class in your zeal to make your points. Here's a description of a feudal Punjabi village of Faridkot (village, not a city or town) in Time magazine earlier this year:

"Faridkot is not the hardscrabble village conjured up by common perceptions of extremist origins. It straddles a paved road about 2 1⁄2 hours' drive from Lahore, and two new gas stations mark the village boundaries. Beyond those are factories and fertile farmland. There is even BlackBerry service. But it is, undeniably, the sort of place that fosters frustration. Feudal landlords own the farmland, and villagers feel trapped by the status they are born into. The good life is tantalizingly close, yet for most residents still unattainable. For men like Qasab, one of the best ways out is jihad. "In a developing country, youngsters who are sensitive, concerned, they talk about 'How do we change what is going on here? How do we get rid of corruption?'" says (Pakistani psychologist Sohail) Abbas. "And if in some sense you find that jihad can help you in those aims, then why not?" It's a convolution of the adolescent craving to stand out. And Pakistani society, steeped in nihilistic passions fostered by the state sponsorship of jihad, condones it."

Unfortunately, feudal Punjab and tribal NWFP are fertile grounds for recruiting by extremists. So it doesn't make sense to question the extent of urbanization in Pakistan. What does make sense is a discussion of how to steer the frustrated young men in feudal and tribal Pakistan away from becoming jihadis. I wrote a blog post on this subject earlier. It's available at

Riaz Haq said...

Anon:" But its industrial power and technology is many times ahead of Karachi which I understand is the largest city in Pakistan."

This remark just shows your ignorance about Karachi and Pakistan. Just because there are more code coolies in Hyderabad does not make it technologically more advanced. It's just another form of cheap labor for mundane code writing.

In terms of industrial sector, Pakistan's 27% industrial contribution to the gdp is the same as India's. Neither India nor Pakistan are industrialized societies.

Anon: "I see uniform trend in Pakistan leaders that they chose to talk of development before talking about basics such as governace, democracy and law ."

Indian politics has close nexus with crime. Fully a third of the Indian MPs elected in the last elections have either been charged with serious crimes or appealing convictions of felonies including murder. Indian democracy has failed its people in terms of good governance to provide basic necessities like food, clothing, housing , sanitation etc.

India has failed to use a period of high economic growth to lift tens of millions of people out of poverty, falling far short of China’s record in protecting its population from the ravages of chronic hunger, United Nations officials said on Tuesday. Last year, British Development Minister Alexander contrasted the rapid growth in China with India's economic success - highlighting government figures that showed the number of poor people had dropped in the one-party communist state by 70% since 1990 but had risen in the world's biggest democracy by 5%.

The World Hunger Index of 88 countries published by IFPRI last year ranked India at 66 while Pakistan was slightly better at 61 and Bangladesh slightly worse at 70.

In the context of unprecedented economic growth (9-10 percent annually) and national food security, over 60 percent of Indian children are wasted, stunted, underweight or a combination of the above. As a result, India ranks number 62 along with Bangladesh at 67 in the PHI (Poverty Hunger Index)ranking out of a total of 81 countries. Both nations are included among the low performing countries in progress towards MDG1 (Millennium Development Goals) with countries such as Nepal (number 58), Ethiopia (number 60), or Zimbabwe (number 74).

Pakistan ranks well ahead of India at 45 and it is included in the medium performing countries. PHI is a new composite indicator – the Poverty and Hunger Index (PHI) – developed to measure countries’ performance towards achieving MDG1 on halving poverty and hunger by 2015. The PHI combines all five official MDG1 indicators, including a) the proportion of population living on less than US$ 1/day, b) poverty gap ratio, c) share of the poorest quintile in national income or consumption, d) prevalence of underweight in children under five years of age, and d) the proportion of population undernourished.

The stinging criticism of India’s performance comes only two weeks after the Congress party-led alliance was overwhelmingly voted back into office. Its leaders had campaigned strongly on their achievement of raising India’s economic growth to 9 per cent and boosting rural welfare. With the exception of Kerala, the situation in India is far worse than the Human Development Index suggests. According to economist Amartya Sen, who won the Nobel Prize for his work on hunger, India has fared worse than any other country in the world at preventing recurring hunger.

India might be an emerging economic power, but it is way behind Pakistan, Bangladesh and even Afghanistan in providing basic sanitation facilities, a key reason behind the death of 2.1 million children under five in the country, according to UNICEF.

A former Indian minister Mr Raghuvansh Prasad Singh told the BBC that more than 65% of India's rural population defecated in the open, along roadsides, railway tracks and fields, generating huge amounts of excrement every day.

Suhail said...


I think your arguments if taken to the logical end will lead to the conclusion that I'm pointing to. The solution you're giving for countering extremism is economic uplift based on industrialization, for which to happen the political order should be protecting the interests of the industrial sector; that's an essential precondition for industrial growth. Urbanization in Pakistan is not leading to industrialization as elsewhere in the world, for the above reason.

Now on the role of the urban middle classes: To achieve industrialization we need transition to a political disposition that protects the interests of the industrial sector, which is also the home ground of urban middle classes. Urban middle classes who should be the harbinger of this change, keep helping the rural elite in retaining status quo by blindly (stupidly) supporting the present parliamentary political disposition, which crushes any industrial growth as soon as it becomes visible. That's unfortunate but happening in reality. Urban middle classes may not be strong enough to bring about the change on their own, but they should have the self- preservative instinct to support all such moves, and in the process the nation as well as themselves can survive and benefit.

Anonymous said...

Riaz, looks like your tolerance for truth is pretty low. My comments are not meant to be belittling anyone. If they have hurt, then it says that you do not want to know truth.

Suhail and Shams have already said what I wish to say. After 60 years, you could not remove feudal system and you say India is on par with your illusionary Pakistan.
Instead of taking comments in a sportive way and seeing the reality, you are showing tremendous intolerance.
By the way you may need China to see an example for growth but that no doubt is another bungle for confused leaders of Pakistan. In your hatred for India you do not have to poke your eye. China is the
last nation for any progressive democracy to look at. Ofcourse thats not the case with Pakistan leaders anyway.
No one denies India has poverty and infact it was some of the worst poverty in this world. That does not put your nation in anyway better than India. Infact your comparision shows in which world you are living.
Hyderabad does not have just coolies as you want to believe but also does cutting edge research for American and world companies. I will not try to prove anything here because its better you consider India low as thats what that bought Pakistan to the current situation.
As I said I am surprised by your level of intolerance but I think Suhail, Sikander and Shams have shown you the truth.
Being proud of one's nation is different from being utterly irrational.
And lastly you cannot write stuff that are so far from truth and be happy to be comparing yourself to India-those days never existed and if they have, they have gone longtime by now. My fathers brother tells us the reality everytime he comes to India from Lahore. Anyways which Pakistan are you living in Mr. Riaz???????????
Good luck

Riaz Haq said...

Anwar: "Riaz, looks like your tolerance for truth is pretty low. My comments are not meant to be belittling anyone. If they have hurt, then it says that you do not want to know truth."

While Pakistan has its problems, I think you have a problem with the truth, backed by credible data, that I shared with you about Shining India. In spite of all your tall claims, India is one of the poorest, most backward, third world countries of the world with very low level of human development, low literacy, big gender gap of 22% in terms of literacy far bigger than the 18% for developing world, widespread hunger and malnutrition, poor sanitation, etc. etc. In most categories, its social indicators are worse than the nations of sub-Saharan Africa.

And what I say to you based on sound data published by credible international agencies as well as my own observations of my visits to India, Pakistan, China and many other developing nations in Asia, Middle East and Africa.

As advise me about "tolerance for truth", it is you who needs to come to grips with the harsh realities of life in India.

Moin said...


I have visited in the past 2 years Dhaka, Karachi, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore and therefore I believe I can to some degree consider myself qualified to talk on this subject. I will not delve into the technical characteristics of urbanization, which Riaz and Suhail have amply expounded upon. I will try to shed some light on Karachi from the perspective of a traveler/tourist and their impression of it. I will compare other similar cities that I have visited in the region and attempt to draw a relative comparison of some similarities and differences.

First of all I want to separate civility and civic sense from Urbanization. A city or town does not have to be urbanized to display characteristics of civility and civic sense in its population.

Appreciation and Preservation of its Cultural Heritage.

In Eastern Europe, even when it was behind the Iron Curtain, the people of these cities and towns displayed a great sense of civility and civic sense. They rebuilt the cities that were totally destroyed in the WW ll. No one looted the historic artifacts or furniture from the government and military buildings that were destroyed. If you visit any of these cities now, Prague, East Berlin, Warsaw etc you will not believe that these were the same places that were destroyed by the ravages of WW ll. They have completely rebuilt their cities. They have even restored the old stone paved back alleys and Plazas to their former glory. Possessions of their former Monarchs (who they hated) have also been preserved (not destroyed and looted) and put in Museums. Even the officials who were corrupt stole only money but did not steal and plunder what belonged to the City and was considered as part of their history or art or culture. Paintings and sculptures of the hated tyrants and rulers were also preserved and or restored with great care.

Moin said...

Hybrid Cities

Both Dhaka and Kula Lumpur have a population that is not only civil in their manner but display a lot of civic sense. Yes, there are dirty and filthy areas in both cities but that is due to the inability of its local governments to handle the exploding sanitation issues due to a meteoric rise in population in the past 10 years. What has happened, and Shams has alluded to this, is that parts of Dhaka and Kuala Lumpur (Downtowns, business centers, areas surrounding government buildings etc) are urbanized in the sense that they have roads, train and bus stations, mono rails, malls, hi rise office buildings and apartments etc. But a few miles from these locations vast areas exist that cannot be classified as urban.

So, these are a hybrid cities consisting of rural and urban patches where majority of the people work in urban centers and enjoy the urbanization of their cities and come home to a lazy sleepy village-like locality where they actually live.

Moin said...

Psyche of the People Makes a Difference

Both in Dhaka and Kuala Lumpur the people are very mild in nature, generally, and deal with life's issues with a sense of stoic understanding. Kula Lumpur, due to its affluence, is cleaner than Dhaka. I saw in Kuala Lumpur scores of sanitation workers who show up early in the morning in each neighborhood and sweep and clean all the public areas including roads. And take the trash away in trucks. (Just like it was done in Karachi when I was in high school and Karachi was very clean then)

My Impression of Dhaka

Dhaka, on the other hand is at the mercy of nature every year. Numerous hurricanes rip up entire neighborhoods and shantytowns and floods wipe out half the city each year. All is quickly cleaned up and rebuilt after each destruction. People are forced to live in the low-lying delta areas only a foot or so above sea level because they have nowhere else to go. For these people who live on season-to-season basis sanitation is not an issue or a priority. They live off the river. They wash in it. They bathe in it. They do their laundry in it. They eat from it. They dispose of their garbage in it. You have to see it to believe it. These people are so intertwined with the water that surrounds them that it has become part of their daily environment and they are like a fish out of water far from it. To an urban dweller they may appear primitive and perhaps they are in an economic sense. But educated or uneducated I found them to have a great sense of appreciation for art, music and crafts. In their spare time a lot of them paint, practice music and dance, read poetry and attend local theatrical shows and performances. Generally, men and women are treated equally. And the practice of purdah is not very common. However, respect for women and girls, by men and boys, far exceeds anything I have seen in Pakistan. In a textile factory that I visited men and women worked together just like you would see in any office in USA. And I guess the ratio of men to women in this particular factory was pretty near 50/50.

I also visited a slum and an industrial area in Dhaka. I found the slum to be fairly cleaner than I expected. Sure there was some filth and flies etc. But the residents themselves had relatively clean clothes and were very well behaved. As tourists we were not surrounded by a mob that would be following us had we been in the slums of Karachi or Bombay. No one begged for money or food. They went about their daily business of cooking, cleaning etc while we walked around and took pictures. I was surprised to learn that they had pooled in money and installed two tube wells for their clean water supply. With the help of a local charity they had also built some shared squat toilets. Separate ones for men and women. I was told that a community hygienists regularly visited them to teach them cleanliness and hygiene. The open mindedness of these poor people to learn new things and a desire to better their environment amazed me. As we were leaving a woman jokingly asked us, “when are you going to give us electricity?” When our guide angrily responded, “ what are you going to do with electricity?” she quickly responded, “ I will cook rice with it. I do not want to use wood for fire. It causes too much smoke. Electricity is better, right?”

Moin said...

Even areas where factories and industries exist seem to be very conscious of their environment. Several of them have wastewater treatment plants, gardens and trees to soften the industrial setting and encourage their workers to plant vegetable gardens on their property. Material was kept in organized piles and scraps and waste were quickly disposed off for recycling. Generally, the factory workers, appeared to be in good health and I did not see signs of abuse or harsh labor.
Urbanization of Karachi

About Karachi I will accept everything Shams has said, minus the expletives. My 2008 visit to Karachi did not leave me with any kind of a positive feeling. It did not appear to have changed much in character (despite the flyovers and new roads) from my 2003 and 1989 visits. Other than it appeared to have gotten much dirtier. People in general in Karachi are rough, impolite, and ready to cheat and hustle. I had to be cautious and wary all the time. It does not have the characteristics that would attract the tourists and foreigners. Safety is a big issue here. In the 70's lots of ME tourists used to visit Karachi and would send their children to study in the schools and colleges. Now, for tourism and education, they are by-passing Karachi and going to India, Bangkok, and Kuala Lumpur etc.. Also in the 70s it was very common for ME people to come to Karachi for medical treatment. Now, they are going to India, Bangkok and Malaysia by passing Pakistan altogether.

Most people in Karachi do not even have the ability to help some one with directions. They have a tough time being polite and patient guiding some one from out of town. Most will try to avoid conversation with a stranger (or a tourist) and say they cannot help them even if they can. I do not know if it is out of shyness or fear. Even storekeepers are short and would rudely say, " go to the next store and ask there." Perhaps, one would have grater success if they spoke in English. Language of the Farangis, I found commands a lot of respect and attention, especially with government officials. Speaking in Urdu puts one at a lower level in their minds. Speaking in English at the expense of Urdu tells these officials that you are at a much higher social status than them and they have been trained for decades to be subservient to people of higher social class than themselves.

Anonymous said...

To see a typical Pakistani mindset, one needs to invite Indians to see how desperate Pakistanis are to compare themselves to India. I will Riazji show your website to my countrymen. I do NOT think you are aware of Pakistans reputation worldwide Riaz ji!! How can a banana islamic nation that is perenially begging IMF for survival be comparing to India> Huh!!! Where are you living man? Moon? It will be respectful if you talk about your nation in its own level . The entire write up looks like its a sixteen year prejudiced religiously colored man writing this.
John Sebastian

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "I do NOT think you are aware of Pakistans reputation worldwide Riaz ji!!"

Please spare me your pontification. I have lived most of my life outside Pakistan and I have extensively traveled to all parts of the world, including India and Pakistan. I do know the realities of South Asia better than most.

No amount of hype in the Indian and Western media can hide the serious flaws in Indian democracy and the deep deprivations suffered by most ordinary Indians.

I have already with you the data, now here are personal observations by foreign visitors to South Asia:

Riaz Haq said...

"On the ground, of course, the reality is different and first-time visitors to Pakistan are almost always surprised by the country's visible prosperity. There is far less poverty on show in Pakistan than in India, fewer beggars, and much less desperation. In many ways the infrastructure of Pakistan is much more advanced: there are better roads and airports, and more reliable electricity. Middle-class Pakistani houses are often bigger and better appointed than their equivalents in India.
Moreover, the Pakistani economy is undergoing a construction and consumer boom similar to India's, with growth rates of 7%, and what is currently the fastest-rising stock market in Asia. You can see the effects everywhere: in new shopping centers and restaurant complexes, in the hoardings for the latest laptops and iPods, in the cranes and building sites, in the endless stores selling mobile phones: in 2003 the country had fewer than three million cellphone users; today there are almost 50 million."

William Dalrymple
14 August, 2007
The Guardian

"Islamabad is surely the most well-organized,picturesque and endearing city in all of South Asia. Few Indians would, however, know this, or, if they did, would admit it. After all, the Indian media never highlights anything positive about Pakistan, because for it only 'bad' news about the country appears to be considered 'newsworthy'. That realization hit me as a rude shock the moment I stepped out of the plane and entered Islamabad's plush International Airport, easily far more efficient, modern and better maintained than any of its counterparts in India. And right through my week-long stay in the city, I could not help comparing Islamabad favorably with every other South Asian city that I have visited. That week in Islamabad consisted essentially of a long string of pleasant surprises, for I had expected Islamabad to be everything that the Indian media so uncharitably and erroneously depicts Pakistan as. The immigration counter was staffed by a smart young woman, whose endearing cheerfulness was a refreshing contrast to the grave, somber and unwelcoming looks that one is generally met with at immigration counters across the world that make visitors to a new country feel instantly unwelcome."

Yoginder Sikand
10 June, 2008

"A little more than six years ago, immediately after the Sept. 11 attacks on U.S. cities, few sane investment advisers would have recommended Pakistani stocks.
They should have. Their clients could have made a fortune.
Since 2001, the nuclear-armed South Asian country, blamed for spawning generations of Islamic militants and threatening global security, has been making millionaires like newly minted coins.
As Western governments have fretted about Pakistan's nuclear weapons falling into the hands of militants, the Karachi Stock Exchange's main share index has risen more than 10-fold."

Mark Bendeich
Jan 10, 2008

Riaz Haq said...

A new British government report on child hunger and malnutrition in India is an "economic powerhouse" but a "nutritional weakling". Here is an excerpt from Times online story:

India is condemning another generation to brain damage, poor education and early death by failing to meet its targets for tackling the malnutrition that affects almost half of its children, a study backed by the British Government concluded yesterday.

The country is an “economic powerhouse but a nutritional weakling”, said the report by the British-based Institute of Development Studies (IDS), which incorporated papers by more than 20 India analysts. It said that despite India’s recent economic boom, at least 46 per cent of children up to the age of 3 still suffer from malnutrition, making the country home to a third of the world’s malnourished children. The UN defines malnutrition as a state in which an individual can no longer maintain natural bodily capacities such as growth, pregnancy, lactation, learning abilities, physical work and resisting and recovering from disease.

In 2001, India committed to the UN Millennium Development Goal of halving its number of hungry by 2015. China has already met its target. India, though, will not meet its goal until 2043, based on its current rate of progress, the IDS report concluded.

“It’s the contrast between India’s fantastic economic growth and its persistent malnutrition which is so shocking,” Lawrence Haddad, director of the IDS, told The Times. He said that an average of 6,000 children died every day in India; 2,000-3,000 of them from malnutrition.

Anonymous said...

"This remark just shows your ignorance about Karachi and Pakistan. Just because there are more code coolies in Hyderabad does not make it technologically more advanced. It's just another form of cheap labor for mundane code writing."

Sniff sniff. Do I smell something buring. It is the same coolie job which pakistan is so desperate to get but meeting with practically no success.
We indians call Chinese products as one dollar rubber dogshit products fit for Dollar Rama stores.

BTW this is the capability of indian coolies,flstry-1.cms

It can be safely said that all 57 islamic countries put together won't have the intellectual capability to design a multi core chip.

Riaz Haq said...


Congrats on Intel Coddington launch. It is a big deal for India.

Knowing a bit about Intel, I am aware that this multi-core processor design is derived from the original Xeon design done in Israel and Portland, and it has come years after the chaotic failure and cancellation of Whitfield in Bangalore. Coddington is an incremental improvement of Xeon, not a new original breakthrough as you are making it to be.

Your dissing of China is just childish and plain foolish. Having worked with both Indian and Chinese engineers, I know China is far ahead of India in almost all aspects of engineering and manufacturing. That's the reason for Intel's huge presence in China.

Anonymous said...


Can you tell whether you are a chinese or a Pakistani. It seems you are ready to get nose flattened, eyes shortened in a desperate attempt to pass yourself as a chinese. Tsk tsk. Is that what inferiority complex reduces a person to.

Tell your Pakistani brothers and sisters to work hard, invest in education to compete with India there. As of now you are way behind India in science and technology and it will remain forever until you set your priorities right.

This blog instead of talking anything positive about Pakistan is looking for only negative news about India. I find the disease rampant among all Pakistanis who when asked what has Pakistan achieved in 62 yrs of its existence in economy, science and technology , spew out negative things about India.

take care.

Riaz Haq said...

Thambi: "As of now you are way behind India in science and technology and it will remain forever until you set your priorities right."

First, your assertion about "indians have left them far behind in knowledge based economy and in science and technology " is mostly false. With the exception of a few Indians who have had foreign training (just as some Pakistanis have had the same training and experience in US), most Indians in technology are essentially code coolies, performing low-level repetitive engineering tasks, not serious R&D.
Second, even if I accept your argument of superiority over Pakistanis, what good is that superiority if you are "condemning another generation to brain damage, poor education and early death by failing to meet its targets for tackling the malnutrition that affects almost half of its children".

Thambi: "This blog instead of talking anything positive about Pakistan is looking for only negative news about India. I find the disease rampant among all Pakistanis who when asked what has Pakistan achieved in 62 yrs of its existence in economy, science and technology , spew out negative things about India."

THe fact is you are so incensed by any criticism of India that you are blind to anything else I blog about. Please read more of my blog to reach a more balanced conclusion.

Anonymous said...

I see that your same response is in other thread too. So I am replying here.

"First, your assertion about "indians have left them far behind in knowledge based economy and in science and technology " is mostly false."

Sure you can claim anything. That hardly makes it true. All I know is that world does not think Pakistan can deliver anything in knowledge based jobs. That's why Pak is no where in knowledge based economy. Forget the world, even rich Pakistanis go to India for their medical treatment.
India has in fact a special category of visa for Pakistanis who come to India for medical treatment. I guess when it comes to trusting their health, even Pakistanis do not want to touch neem hakeem khatra hee jaan type Pakistani doctors. Any answer for that.

"With the exception of a few Indians who have had foreign training (just as some Pakistanis have had the same training and experience in US), most Indians in technology are essentially code coolies, performing low-level repetitive engineering tasks, not serious R&D."

serious R&D , even in US is performed by very low % of population. Majority of americans are mediocres who do routine job.
And the code coolies you are talking about is what americans use to do for 100K+ salary. Americans must be stupid to keep paying 100K+ to these so called code coolies.

And may I remind you what Pakistan will not give to do the same code coolie job. In 1997 Pakistan declared a war on India's s/w industry. Their motto was to match India in s/w exports. From 1997 to 2008 Indian exports moves from 1USB to 45 USB dollar. Pakistan is 150 million. Some war it was.

here is the result of google search on "india R&D open".

and then do the same search on Pakistan. Gosh, it is so embarrassing.

"THe fact is you are so incensed by any criticism of India that you are blind to anything else I blog about. Please read more of my blog to reach a more balanced conclusion."

What sort of argument is this? I can insult your prophet and religion and if you get incensed I can claim I was right because you got incensed.

Fact is, Pakistan's failed nation status is due to their own failings. 62 yrs and you did nothing.

Do you know that in 1950s Pak was ahead of even Korea , what to talk of China. Look where they are (and to be objective China is far ahead of India too). Until 1980s Pak was ahead of India too in many indicators before India overtook them. A classic example is car ownership. Back in 1980s india had 7 car per 1000, against 12 per 1000 in Pakistan. Today Pak is still sitting at 11 while India has surged to 15 and expected to hit 20 in few years. From all economic indicators Pakistan has actually declined in many. Before 2005 there was ceiling made by WTO in textile exports and Pak had a good share. Once WTO lifted quota, Pak got decimated in textile exports, mostly at the gains made by China and India.

I am not trying to rile you. What you are doing , I see the same in many Pak forums. Instead of talking anything positive about pakistan in economy etc, they talk negative about India. In fact there was an article in NYT in which it was said "after 62 yrs ask someone what is pakistan, the reply will be :->not-india"

Riaz Haq said...

Thambi: "Sure you can claim anything. That hardly makes it true. All I know is that world does not think Pakistan can deliver anything in knowledge based jobs. That's why Pak is no where in knowledge based economy."

Pakistanis are as good or as bad as Indians when it comes to knowledge-based economy. With very few exceptions, both perform similar jobs in the West as well as their home countries.

According to oDesk, Pakistan experienced 328% growth in its outsourcing business in 2007-8, second only to the Philippines (789%) on a list of seven top locations that include US (260%), Canada (121%), India (113%), the Ukraine (77%) and Russia (43%).

Pakistan ranks number one in value for money for developers and data entry and number two overall behind the Philippines where the cost of answering calls is about half of the cost in Pakistan. Pakistan is well ahead of India and just behind the number 1 ranked United States in customer satisfaction.

Thambi: "What sort of argument is this? I can insult your prophet and religion and if you get incensed I can claim I was right because you got incensed."

I do not personally insult or abuse any one, I just point out holes in your arguments.

Thambi: "Today Pak is still sitting at 11 while India has surged to 15 and expected to hit 20 in few years."

What is your source for this data? Pakistan has seen a major auto boom under Musharraf, and according to Wikipedia, Pakistanis own 13.5 cars per one thousand versus India's 12.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's more recent, data on car ownership I saw on

India does not have too many cars. According to the World Bank India today has 12 cars per 1000 people as compared to 19 in Pakistan, 64 in Malaysia, 67 in Turkey, 426 in UK, 543 in Japan and 765 in USA,. So car density is a virtual index of economic prosperity.

Anonymous said...

"Pakistanis are as good or as bad as Indians when it comes to knowledge-based economy. With very few exceptions, both perform similar jobs in the West as well as their home countries."

India has 45 Billion dollar s/w exports industry. Pak has barely 200 million. Any one big city of India sells far more than entire Pak nation. And in US Indians in IT outnumber Pakistanis by a factor to over 25 (even though population wise you are only 1/7).

"According to oDesk, Pakistan experienced 328% growth in its outsourcing business in 2007-8, second only to the Philippines (789%) on a list of seven top locations that include US (260%), Canada (121%), India (113%), the Ukraine (77%) and Russia (43%).

Pakistan ranks number one in value for money for developers and data entry and number two overall behind the Philippines where the cost of answering calls is about half of the cost in Pakistan. Pakistan is well ahead of India and just behind the number 1 ranked United States in customer satisfaction."

good for pakistan. now pls translate that to sales. With these awesome talent pakistan should be able to generate at least few billion dollars in s/w exports, not measly 150 million.

and while we are at it, Pakistan should also compete with India in Medical outsourcing, legal outsourcing. All of them give india another 1 USB dollar.

I hope you get my drift. You can not claim Pakistanis to be as good as Indians in brains dept until you show something. Sorry if I sound rude.

As for cars figure give me some time. The source of wikipedia is And even in your figure you would notice that in 20 yrs you moved from 12 to 13.4 and while india moved from 7 to 12.
currently car sales in Pak has plummented

while in india it is growing.

I debate with lot of Pakistanis in forums and I always ask them "what has Pak to show for in 62 yrs. Any industries like Tata, Reliance, or any of india's top IT companies".


Indian companies have been purchasing foreign companies. Which Pak company has done it? NONE.

I would strongly suggest to focus on improving Pakistan's science and technology instead of waiting for bad news from India to make your day. Few weeks back you posted that India's Chandrayan's mision is over (rather with glee).
Is this very important for the goodness of Pakistan. You forget that the mission lasted for 10 months, sent countless images of moon and above all, India's flag is one of the 5 countries flag in the moon (you have moon in your flag, we have flag in the moon).

I understand that for pakistan it is imperative for their self esteem to take that India and Pakistan are at same level. According to me this attitude will never any dividend because instead of striving to beat India, it gives a sense of complacency.

Anonymous said...

great. a pakistani site chowk and an article written by a pakistani is taken as gospel.

if car is an indicator of prosperity then pak should be way ahead of India in per capita income. let us take a look


In all India is ahead of Pakistan and the gap will only grow now. Fact is, twenty yrs ago you were ahead of us.

Riaz Haq said...

Thambi: "I debate with lot of Pakistanis in forums and I always ask them "what has Pak to show for in 62 yrs. Any industries like Tata, Reliance, or any of india's top IT companies"."

You basic premise for measuring progress is wrong.

Pakistan's industrial sector contributes 27% of its GDP, same as India's. India is not any more industrialized than Pakistan, regardless of how many Tatas and Reliances you have.

And, based on all available, Pakistan has fed, clothed and housed its people much better than India has. As British writer William Dalrymple wrote in the Guardian after visiting both nations, "There is far less poverty on show in Pakistan than in India, fewer beggars, and much less desperation. In many ways the infrastructure of Pakistan is much more advanced: there are better roads and airports, and more reliable electricity. Middle-class Pakistani houses are often bigger and better appointed than their equivalents in India."

On the software/IT stuff you keep harping on, I concede that India had a headstart and did well. But Pakistan's software/IT industry is now growing at a faster pace than India's, while India's software/IT is getting pretty saturated because of the poor quality and high cost of available labor.

Anonymous said...

Riaz: Your choice of indicators to show Pak as same as India is ridiculous. If I neighbor is wealthy I will not look for comments from him or others, I will look for indicators like how many expensive things he has, what car he drives and so on.
Same applies for country. If Pakistan is even as good as india, (let alone being better), I would expect MNC to make a bee line towards Pakistan, right from auto companies to Walmarts of the world. Why is that no one even wants to touch Pakistan?

Pakistan's manufacturing industry is a joke. They import everything, paint it and then claim as it as pak industry. No wonder they don't export any manufactured thing because they lack the expertise.

here is one of your letters to the editor few days back

"There was a golden opportunity for Pakistani businessmen in the 1990s to venture into the manufacture of mobile phones in collaboration with a world-renowned mobile phones manufacturing company and capture a sizable market share in this part of the world.

But due to their lack of knowledge or ambition to become rich overnight they have squandered this opportunity.

On the other hand, India ventured into this profitable business and is way ahead of us, producing one of the best, world-class mobile phones in collaboration with a renowned company like Nokia.

And I can produce many more letters from your own newspapers indicating how everything made in Pakistan (so called) is considerably more expensive than that in India.

All the Walmarts, Hondas, BMWs of the world just respect one thing: MONEY. If they smell money they will rush towards that country like a dog towards a bone. Isn't it surprising that Pakistan which is so much better than in India (per you) is not touched by the proverbial barge pole by any.

"On the software/IT stuff you keep harping on, I concede that India had a headstart and did well. But Pakistan's software/IT industry is now growing at a faster pace than India's, while India's software/IT is getting pretty saturated because of the poor quality and high cost of available labor."

Yeah sure wishful thinking is passed off as facts. Once again, from 1997 to 2008 Pak moved from zero to 150 million s/w exports. We moved from 1 to 45+ billion dollar. Yeah sure, Pakistanis are better in IT.

India has not done well in IT alone. In fact IT is stealing the thunders of other industries. After Japan, India has highest Deming awards in manufacturing for quality management. A country which use to make bad cars until 1980s is now increasingly seen as the hub of small cars, so much that Nissan is moving entire small car production to India. Our cars are sold in Europe. I doubt even Afghanis will buy made in Pakistan car.

Once again as a fellow human I advise you to aim for the stars and work hard. Just cataloging india's negative things will only give you false sense of achievement while we march years ahead of you in achievement and talent. As of today, there is not a single country in the world who believes Pakistanis are capable of anything. Even Oil rich islamic countries deal with India more than Pakistan.


Anonymous said...

"And, based on all available, Pakistan has fed, clothed and housed its people much better than India has."

great logic. applying this logic all oil producing gulf countries have done much better than CHina where poverty is much more than Saudi Arabia or Dubai. So what if CHina has made incredible progress in manufacturing, science and technology.

Let me see what retort you have?

I understand why you don't want to debate on technology, manufacturing between Pak and India. Reason is simple. Pak is hopelessly behind India, as of now.

Also Pak is sustaining to a large extent on zakaat given by western countries in the form of aid. Your PM runs to every country with a begging bowl in hand. You sure proud of that?

Also do you know 90% of beggars in Saudi Arabia are from Pakistan.


I WAS in Saudi Arabia recently to perform Umrah. During my visit I noticed a large number of beggars in Makkah and Madinah. It was sad to know that 90 per cent of them were professional beggars from Pakistan. These beggars can now be seen even in the Masjid-i-Nabvi and while performing the Tawaf in Makkah. It is a matter of disgrace for our country.

The Pakistan embassy in Riydah and the Pakistan consulate in Jeddah must take action to curb this.


Riaz Haq said...

Thambi: "I would expect MNC to make a bee line towards Pakistan, right from auto companies to Walmarts of the world. Why is that no one even wants to touch Pakistan?"

This statement shows your own ignorance, and letters to Dawn do not prove any thing. There are dozens of MNCs operating in Pakistan, and more are coming all the time. Almost all major auto companies from Japan and Korea make autos, motorbikes and parts in Pakistan.

There is no Wallmart in Pak yet, but Pakistan has other stores such as the Dutch-German retail giant Makro that I just recently saw on my visit to Pakistan. You need to read more of my blog to learn what is going on in Pakistan.

Thambi: "Once again as a fellow human I advise you to aim for the stars and work hard."

Take your own advice, go feed your hungry children, clothe your naked fellow citizens, and help clean up the slums...that's what your nation needs, not more Tatas and Wallmarts.

Anonymous said...

great. You have choses not to publish two of my replies in which I have given all stats proving Pakistan to be inferior in per capital, GNI etc. But hey it is your blog and you have to show victory to fellow pakistanis.

great job. So what if pakistan is no match to indian in brains and economy, in blog wars Paki edit out unwanted replies and declare themselves victories.


Riaz Haq said...

Thambi: "great. a pakistani site chowk and an article written by a pakistani is taken as gospel."

The article refers to World Bank as the source. And I agree with it based on my own observations during my visits to both India and Pakistan. On a per 1000 population basis, Pakistan auto industry has been producing and selling more vehicles that India's auto industry. Read more at

As to Pakistan's per capita income, it is definitely higher than India's, based on the ADB data:

Pakistan has the highest per capita income at HK$ 13,528 in South Asia. It reports India's per capita as HK $12,090, difference of over HK$1500.00 (about US $200)

The "real" here refers to the actual purchasing power and living standard comparisons, not international exchange rates.

Check out complete list in Table H at s.pdf

As this ADB report explains, "The most celebrated example of a PPP is the “Big Mac Index" compiled and regularly published by The Economist magazine. The Big Mac Index is a PPP that is based solely on the price of a Big Mac in various countries—a commodity that is comparable in quality and available in most locations. Although it is a simple example of a PPP, in practice it is of little use for making international comparisons because it is not representative of all the goods and services included in GDP. More reliable measures of PPPs, such as those compiled as part of the 2005 ICP, are constructed using a large amount of data on the prices of a broad range of goods and services that make up GDP. In ICP Asia Pacific, the participating economies priced items from a list of around 800 household and nonhousehold products in 2005 and early 2006."

Riaz Haq said...

Thambi: "do you know 90% of beggars in Saudi Arabia are from Pakistan."

No, I don't know that. But if it is true, I'd say that these "professional" beggars, wherever they are from, are quite resourceful and entrepreneurial. I am sure "Allah" rewards them with a big collection from many many Hajis quite willing to give to please "Allah" during the festive season.

These guys think a lot bigger than the Delhi beggars learning English to accost foreigners during the upcoming Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

Anonymous said...

"As to Pakistan's per capita income, it is definitely higher than India's, based on the ADB data:"

GREAT. Only the site quoted by you is authentic. The link I gave, three different organziation put India's Per Capita ahead of Pakistan.
1. World Bank.
2. IMF
3. CIA

but hey they are not reliable as yours. Fine, its your blog :-)

Your own observations count nothing. Pakistan's economy is nothing except for zakaat from west in the form of aid. Do I have to remind you of your Prime Minister running to every country to beg for loan so that pakistan can pay its bill. Yes India was also in the same position. But that was in 1990. You are in that position in 2008.

No manufacturing industry worth the name (Fauji cereral is the top company in Pakistan). No service industry worth the name. Yet some Pakistanis want to delude that they are not inferior to India.

As I said this is your blog and you can come up with any twisted facts to drum up your illusion.

Riaz Haq said...

Thambi: "As to Pakistan's per capita income, it is definitely higher than India's, based on the ADB data:"

GREAT. Only the site quoted by you is authentic. The link I gave, three different organziation put India's Per Capita ahead of Pakistan.
1. World Bank.
2. IMF
3. CIA"

If you bother to read the detailed ADB report explaining how the PPP numbers are calculated, you will understand why ADB ICP PPP numbers are much more reliable than the other sources you mention.

The general observations of most foreign visitors to Pakistan, and more own personal observations to both India and Pakistan, confirm that average Pakistanis generally enjoy a better standard of living than average Indians. Pakistanis look better fed, clothed, and housed, and appear healthier, something that is only possible if their real incomes are higher than Indians.

Thambi: "No manufacturing industry worth the name (Fauji cereral is the top company in Pakistan). No service industry worth the name. Yet some Pakistanis want to delude that they are not inferior to India."

Again, you display both your ignorance and your bigotry in spades. You are in serious need of real education. Read the blog "South Asia Investor Review" and hopefully you will see the light, but only if you choose to do so. There is none so blind as those who will not see.

Anonymous said...

hello sir, I am back.

This article mentions that the gap between rich and poor has grown more in China than before.

I asked you a Question yesterday and will ask again. By all accounts Saudi Arabia is richer than China. Do you consider Saudi to have achieved as much as China, specially in manufacturing, science and technology. Cmon Cmon don't be ashamed to answer.

Obviously you will not say that because you know that Saudi has done nothing where as China has done spectacularly well (even as an Indian i admit they are far ahead of us).

Similar argument can be made for Pak vs India comparison. Due to India's huge population (just like china), some of our stats would get affected. But that does not change the fact that India has done far more in manufacturing, science and technology than Pakistan.

I have asked many times and I am asking again. Can you list out the core industries of Pakistan. What is their standing internationally. Do they export anything of value?

The answer for all this is anda (egg).

Why hasn't Pakistanis earned a reputation like Indians in science and engineering. Americans make trips to India to get operated. That shows they have confidence in Indian Doctors. Why don't they go to Pakistan which is 40% cheaper than India in currency. Heck, your own rich pakistanis go to india for bypass surgery.

Riaz Haq said...

Thambi,"This article mentions that the gap between rich and poor has grown more in China than before."

Pardon me, but India also has huge rich-poor gap, as obvious from slum-and-squalor juxtaposed with wealth in Mumbai, the financial capital. In fact, Pakistan is the most egalitarian nation in South Asia.

According to the new UN-HABITAT report on the State of the World's Cities 2008/9: Harmonious Cities, China has the highest level of consumption inequality based on Gini Coefficient in the Asia region, higher than Pakistan (0.298), Bangladesh (0.318), India (0.325), and Indonesia (0.343), among others." Gini coefficient is defined as a ratio with values between 0 and 1: A low Gini coefficient indicates more equal income or wealth distribution, while a high Gini coefficient indicates more unequal distribution. 0 corresponds to perfect equality (everyone having exactly the same income) and 1 corresponds to perfect inequality (where one person has all the income, while everyone else has zero income).

Riaz Haq said...

Thambi: "I have asked many times and I am asking again. Can you list out the core industries of Pakistan. What is their standing internationally. Do they export anything of value?

The answer for all this is anda (egg)."

Again, you show your total ignorance and bigotry on this subject. Pakistan has a fairly robust industrial sector that makes everything from steel to motorbikes and automobiles to airplanes and tanks. Pakistan also makes a lot of consumer products from air conditioners to all sorts of electronics and home appliances, much of what Pakistanis consume are made in Pakistan.

I think you have a very distorted view of Pakistan learned through the Indian media. You need to get out and see Pakistan to make a fair comparison, as some Indians, like Yoginder Sikand has. Here is what Sikand wrote last year after a visit to Islamabad:

"Islamabad is surely the most well-organized,picturesque and endearing city in all of South Asia. Few Indians would, however, know this, or, if they did, would admit it. After all, the Indian media never highlights anything positive about Pakistan, because for it only 'bad' news about the country appears to be considered 'newsworthy'. That realization hit me as a rude shock the moment I stepped out of the plane and entered Islamabad's plush International Airport, easily far more efficient, modern and better maintained than any of its counterparts in India. And right through my week-long stay in the city, I could not help comparing Islamabad favorably with every other South Asian city that I have visited. That week in Islamabad consisted essentially of a long string of pleasant surprises, for I had expected Islamabad to be everything that the Indian media so uncharitably and erroneously depicts Pakistan as. The immigration counter was staffed by a smart young woman, whose endearing cheerfulness was a refreshing contrast to the grave, somber and unwelcoming looks that one is generally met with at immigration counters across the world that make visitors to a new country feel instantly unwelcome."

Thambi: "Why hasn't Pakistanis earned a reputation like Indians in science and engineering. Americans make trips to India to get operated. That shows they have confidence in Indian Doctors. Why don't they go to Pakistan which is 40% cheaper than India in currency. Heck, your own rich pakistanis go to india for bypass surgery."

It seems that you always exaggerate India's accomplishments way beyond reality and you attempt to diminish Pakistan.

India's reputation in Science and Tech is your imagination, the truth is that there are no Indian schools in the top 100 best schools in the world, there almost zero innovations worthy of Nobel prizes, most of India's Science and Tech is incremental and cheap labor, not any new breakthroughs. The recent loss of India's Chanrayaan satellite shows they couldn't even replicate what others have done a long, long time ago.

What India needs to do is to make basic food, sanitation and health care available to its own people instead of brag about great science and treating foreign patients.

The fact is that India has failed miserably in taking care of the vast majority of its people who are poor, malnourished and hungry and live in abject squalor, as shown by multiple recent reports and movies made in the West.

Riaz Haq said...

Thambi, You are now making comments that are not only far from the topic at hand, but also completely missing the point that technology, industry and economic progress are meant to serve the people, not the other way around.

Using this particular yard stick, China has done a remarkable of translating its economic success into better living standards for its people. Pakistan has done that to a much lesser extent. And India has failed badly as measured by rampant poverty and hunger among adults and severe malnutrition among its children.

Please stop putting the cart before the horse, and pay more attention to what India must do to translate whatever successes it has into better lives for the majority of its people.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from recent Reuters report about Pakistan:

"Indeed, for sheer spotlessness, efficiency and emptiness there is nothing like the M2 in the rest of South Asia.

It puts paid to what's on offer in Pakistan's traditional foe and emerging economic giant India, where village culture stubbornly refuses to cede to even the most modern motorways, making them battlegrounds of rickshaws, lorries and cows.

There are many things in Pakistan that don't get into the news. Daily life, for one. Pakistani hospitality to strangers, foreigners like myself included, is another. The M2 is another sign that all is not what it appears in Pakistan, that much lies hidden behind the bad news.

On a recent M2 trip, my driver whizzed along but kept his speedometer firmly placed on the speed limit. Here in this South Asian Alice's Wonderland, the special highway police are considered incorruptible. The motorway is so empty one wonders if it really cuts through one of the region's most populated regions.

"130, OK, but 131 is a fine," said the driver, Noshad Khan. "The police have cameras," he added, almost proudly. His hand waved around in the car, clenched in the form of a gun.

On one of my first trips to Pakistan. I arrived at the border having just negotiated a one-lane country road in India with cows, rickshaws and donkey-driven carts.

I toted my luggage over to the Pakistan side, and within a short time my Pakistani taxi purred along the tarmac. The driver proudly showed off his English and played U.S. rock on FM radio. The announcer even had an American accent. Pakistan, for a moment, receded, and my M2 trip began."

Here's another one from 2007 by William Dalrymple in Guardian:

"On the ground, of course, the reality is different and first-time visitors to Pakistan are almost always surprised by the country's visible prosperity. There is far less poverty on show in Pakistan than in India, fewer beggars, and much less desperation. In many ways the infrastructure of Pakistan is much more advanced: there are better roads and airports, and more reliable electricity. Middle-class Pakistani houses are often bigger and better appointed than their equivalents in India.
Moreover, the Pakistani economy is undergoing a construction and consumer boom similar to India's, with growth rates of 7%, and what is currently the fastest-rising stock market in Asia. You can see the effects everywhere: in new shopping centers and restaurant complexes, in the hoardings for the latest laptops and iPods, in the cranes and building sites, in the endless stores selling mobile phones: in 2003 the country had fewer than three million cellphone users; today there are almost 50 million."

Mayraj said...

Phoenix, Arizona; Austin, Texas; Charlotte, North Carolina; Portland, Oregon and Minneapolis-St Paul in the Twin Cities Region of Minnesota are cities that a developing country city should have sister relations with. They are all leading American cities for performance. San Francisco has a had an innovative culture which has usually then been adopted in other cities also.

For instance the San Francisco mayor has been term limited to two terms since the 1950s. Now that is the California norm across the state and applies to state positions as well. Term limits have spread nationwide.

I should also say that non-partisan elections have also spread nationwide and also have shown positive results in Latin America where they also have term limits. Under the new system in Pakistan along with integrated local system you have council-manager system, non-partisan elections and term limits. This is really the most evolved system any South Asian nation has ever had. It is something I never expected to see in Pakistan, let alone in my lifetime.

Austin is a green capital of US along with Portland. San Francisco is also green oriented.

Phoenix and Charlotte are council-manager cities; which is also the formula that Karachi has. The council manager form is the dominated local government local formula in US now, generally. Amongst the largest cities mayor-council formula is dominant;but, that doesn't mean some of the largest cities do not have council-manager systems.

I did an article in 2005 about this:

Here is some info about Phoenix:

Creating a Culture of Innovation:

10 Lessons from America’s Best Run City

Phoenix City Manager to Retire

Riaz Haq said...

Here's traveler-blogger Sean-Paul Kelly talking about lack of sanitation in India:

In my opinion the filth, squalor and all around pollution indicates a marked lack of respect for India by Indians. I don't know how cultural the filth is, but it's really beyond anything I have ever encountered. At times the smells, trash, refuse and excrement are like a garbage dump. Right next door to the Taj Mahal was a pile of trash that smelled so bad, was so foul as to almost ruin the entire Taj experience. Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai to a lesser degree were so very polluted as to make me physically ill. Sinus infections, ear infection, bowels churning was an all to common experience in India. Dung, be it goat, cow or human fecal matter was common on the streets. In major tourist areas filth was everywhere, littering the sidewalks, the roadways, you name it. Toilets in the middle of the road, men urinating and defecating anywhere, in broad daylight. Whole villages are plastic bag wastelands. Roadsides are choked by it. Air quality that can hardly be called quality. Far too much coal and far to few unleaded vehicles on the road. The measure should be how dangerous the air is for one's health, not how good it is. People casually throw trash in the streets, on the roads. The only two cities that could be considered sanitary in my journey were Trivandrum--the capital of Kerala--and Calicut. I don't know why this is. But I can assure you that at some point this pollution will cut into India's productivity, if it already hasn't. The pollution will hobble India's growth path, if that indeed is what the country wants. (Which I personally doubt, as India is far too conservative a country, in the small 'c' sense.)

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting analysis of how Pakistan has changed in this decade by a Ahsan, a blogger on Five Rupees:

In the last decade, this picture has changed dramatically due to three central factors.

The first and most important factor is the explosion of private electronic media. In the 1990s, it was difficult for most Pakistanis -- the vast majority of which cannot or do not read newspapers -- to get information that was not government-sponsored or, less mildly, propagandistic. ....

This picture has changed drastically, as anyone with even a cursory interest in Pakistan will be able to tell you. There are now dozens of news channels in Pakistan, each with their own ideological and partisan bent. Some are national-level, others more regionally and ethnically focused. The trend began in the early part of this decade and has plateaued only recently, as the market gets sated. And while few of these channels will win awards for calm understatement or presciently sedate analysis, the fact remains that the media -- if it can be spoken of as a collective -- has given voice to a mass of the population previously unheard from. It has become a player of truly monumental importance for its ability to shape, mold, and excite the public. It is, at once, sensationalistic, blood-thirsty, xenophobic, conspiratorial, humorous, investigative, and anti-government. And yet its arrival on the scene is more than welcome, first for providing the venue for disenfranchised interests to make themselves known and second because the alternative is much worse.

The second significant factor, related to but distinct from the first, is the rise of communication technologies in Pakistan, particularly cellular phones. In 2002, there were 1.2 million cell-phone subscriptions in the country. By 2008, this number had risen to 88 million -- an increase of more than seven thousand percent. In addition, more than one in ten Pakistanis had access to the internet by the end of the decade; low by advanced countries' standards but an astronomical rise by Pakistan's. These developments in communications meant that political narratives became congealed and disseminated at speeds never heard of before, and that information and the wider "war" for public opinion became incredibly hard to win if a battle was lost at any stage.

The third major factor is the economic growth that took place in Pakistan in the first half of the 2000s. Pakistan's GDP doubled between 1999 and 2007, and more than kept pace with population growth, as GDP per capita increased by almost sixty percent between 2000 and 2008. More to the point, this growth was overwhelmingly powered by expansion of the service sector, which is concentrated, quite naturally, in the urban centers of the country. For the first time since independence, the term "Pakistani urban middle class" was not a contradiction in terms.

This development had two effects. First, and more trivially, the urban middle class did what urban middle classes do: they bought televisions and computers. In turn, that allowed them to plug into the private media explosion in ways simply unimaginable previously. Second, it shattered the elite-only edifice of Pakistani politics, and made challenges to government based on Main Street issues -- the price of flour, the lack of electricity, the selective application of the rule of law -- a viable process. Fifty years ago, Seymour Lipset wrote one of the canonical articles in Political Science on the process of democratization, its relationship to urbanized middle classes, and how the demands and values of the latter lead almost inexorably to support for the former. Here was living proof of Lipset's analysis.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a recent excerpt from a piece by Dawn columnist Irfan Husain about Pakistan's middle class influencing nation's politics:

While external debt increased from $39bn in 1999 to $50bn in 2009, poverty levels have fallen by over 10 per cent since 2001. Indeed, there are now around 30 million Pakistanis who are considered to be in the middle class with an average income of $10,000 annually, while some 17 million are now bracketed with the upper and upper-middle classes.

Even though this does not approach China’s and India’s spectacular progress in this period, it does represent a solid advance. If one factors in the political turmoil the country has gone through, together with its ongoing insurgencies in the tribal areas and Balochistan, Pakistan’s progress has been impressive by any standard.

How do these numbers translate into day-to-day life in Pakistan? To examine the social transformation the country is undergoing, Jason Burke uses the Suzuki Mehran as a yardstick to measure change. In his ‘Letter from Karachi’ published in the current issue of Prospect, the Guardian reporter writes:

“In Pakistan, the hierarchy on the roads reflects that of society. If you are poor, you use the overcrowded buses or a bicycle. Small shopkeepers, rural teachers and better-off farmers are likely to have a $1,500 Chinese or Japanese motorbike…. Then come the Mehran drivers. A rank above them, in air-conditioned Toyota Corolla saloons, are the small businessmen, smaller landlords, more senior army officers and bureaucrats. Finally, there are the luxury four-wheel drives of ‘feudal’ landlords, big businessmen, expats, drug dealers, generals, ministers and elite bureaucrats. The latter may be superior in status, power and wealth, but it is the Mehrans which, by dint of numbers, dominate the roads.”

This growing affluence has already caused a major power shift, with the urban population now having a bigger say after years of being ruled by feudal landowners. As urbanisation gathers pace, Pakistan’s traditional power elite will increasingly come from the cities, and not from the rural hinterland. This will have a profound impact not just on politics, but on society as a whole. As Burke observes in his Prospect article:

“Politically, the Bhutto dynasty’s Pakistan People’s Party, mostly based in rural constituencies and led by feudal landowners, will lose out to the Pakistan Muslim League of Nawaz Sharif with its industrial, commercial, urban constituency. Culturally, the traditional, folksy, tolerant practices in rural areas will decline in favour of more modernised, politicised Islamic strands and identities. And as power and influence shifts away from rural elites once co-opted by colonialism, the few elements of British influence to have survived will fade faster.”

Often, perceptive foreigners spot social trends that escape us because we are too close to them to see the changes going on around us. For instance, Burke identifies the shift away from English, and sees ‘Mehran man’ as urban, middle class and educated outside the elite English-medium system. He sees Muslims being under attack from the West, and genuinely believes that the 9/11 attacks were a part of a CIA/Zionist plot. Actually, my experience is that many highly educated and sophisticated people share this theory.

Burke continues his dissection of the rising Pakistani middle class: “Mehran man is deeply proud of his country. A new identification with the ummah, or the global community of Muslims, paradoxically reinforces rather than degrades his nationalism. For him, Pakistan was founded as an Islamic state, not a state for South Asian Muslims. Mehran man is an ‘Islamo-nationalist’. His country possesses a nuclear bomb….”

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Seekingalpha report commenting on McKinsey study of Indian urbanization:

... new labor force will also be relatively young compared to other BRIC countries. The median age for the Indian population is 25.3 years—lower than Brazil (28.6 years) and well below China (34.1 years) and Russia (38.4).

In order to meet the needs of this urban class, MGI estimates India will need:

* $1.2 trillion in capital investment
* 2.5 billion square meters of roads to be paved
* 700-900 million square meters of commercial and residential space
* 7,400 kilometers of subways and transportation to be constructed

To put these figures into perspective, the investment amount needed is about one-third of India’s total GDP in 2009. And if 700-900 million square meters of real estate sounds like a lot, that’s because it is. India would need to build a city the size of Chicago every year for the next 20 years in order to create enough commercial/residential space.

While these numbers are staggering, perhaps the most important figure for commodity demand is MGI’s projections on the growth of India’s middle class. MGI estimates that India will have 91 million middle class households by 2030, that’s more than a 300 percent increase from the 22 million they have today.

As we’ve said many times before, the growth of the middle class in the developing world, especially in Asia, is a key driver of demand for oil, steel, copper, cement and countless other resources because the wealthier these people are, the more they will consume.

This mass of people will likely demand better housing, better roads, better goods— in all, a higher quality of life than what’s been available to them in the past. The resulting pressure this could have on commodity demand is the X-factor that we believe makes this cycle different than anything we’ve experienced in the past.

I agree there will be massive migration in India;but, not driven like China. It will be driven by rural failure. There are few jobs in urban India already, where will so many more jobs come from in future, if India doesn't fundamentally change its policies....

Most population growth in India is coming in the backward and poor northern states. Will these youth be able to fill the jobs that do open up in urban India?

Riaz Haq said...

Here is a Times Online report about slum population swelling in India:

The number of people living in slums in India has more than doubled in the past two decades and now exceeds the entire population of Britain, the Indian Government has announced.

India’s slum-dwelling population had risen from 27.9 million in 1981 to 61.8 million in 2001, when the last census was done, Kumari Selja, the Minister for Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, said.

The figure is the latest illustration of how India’s recent economic boom has left behind millions of the country’s poorest people, raising fears that social unrest could undermine further growth.

India’s economy has grown by an average of 8 per cent annually over the past four years, and yet a quarter of its population of 1.1 billion still lives on less than $1 (50p) a day.

The expansion of India’s slums is partly due to the rise in India’s total population, which increased from 683 million in 1981 to 1.03 billion in 2001.

That has been exacerbated by mass migration from the countryside as millions of farmers have forsaken the diminishing returns of small-scale agriculture to seek the relatively high wages of manual labourers in India’s cities.

But the ballooning slum population is also evidence of the Government’s failure to build enough housing and other basic infrastructure for its urban poor, many of whom live without electricity, gas or running water.

India’s largest slum population is in Bombay, the country’s financial and film capital, where an estimated 6.5 million people – at least half the city’s residents – live in tiny makeshift shacks surrounded by open sewers. Bombay is also home to Dharavi, Asia’s biggest single slum, which is estimated to house more than a million people.

Delhi, the national capital, has the country’s second-largest slum population, totalling about 1.8 million people, followed by Calcutta with about 1.5 million.

Mrs Selja says that it will cost India four trillion rupees (£49 billion) to build the estimated 24 million housing units needed to accommodate India’s slum-dwellers. She has called for the Government and the private sector to address the problem jointly and has launched several schemes to provide basic public services to slum-dwellers. But civil rights activists accuse the Government of willfully neglecting India’s slums, while favouring commercial property developers who often bribe local officials and fund politicians’ election campaigns.

“The rise in slums is due to the lack of affordable housing provided by the Government,” said Maju Varghese, of YUVA Urban, a nongovernmental organisation that has been working with the urban poor for more than 20 years. “The Government has withdrawn from the whole area of housing and land prices have gone to such heights that people can’t afford proper housing,” he said.

Riaz Haq said...

The recent tragic assassination of Gov Salman Taseer has caused many to rethink whether the South Asian Barelvi or Sufi Islam is really more tolerant than Deobandi or Wahabi Islam imported into Pakistan from Saudi Arabia.

Clearly, the followers of Barelvi Islam have not hesitated in supporting blasphemy laws, and they have shamelessly cheered the murder of Salman Taseer who spoke for repeal of such laws.

I also think the Barelvi or Sufi Islam in Pakistan has been hijacked by the feudal-politcal class of makhdooms (Yusuf Raza Gilani, Shah Mahmmood Qureshi, Javed Hashmi, Amin Fahim, etc) to exploit their self-proclaimed lineage from Prophet Mohammad (their so-called Syed status) as a way to maintain their feudal-cum-spiritual power over the poor peasants in Sind and Southern Panjab.

This feudal domination of politics has badly hurt the emergence of real democracy and any advancement of the poor, illiterate rural folks in Pakistan, and contributed to the growth of religious extremism particularly in rural Punjab.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are excerpts from a report on Pakistan's retail sector:

The ongoing shift in population from rural to urban areas has underpinned the expansion of the retail sector. Strong real GDP growth until fiscal year 2006/07 (July-June) provided the foundation for years of double-digit growth in net retail sales in US dollar terms. However, net retail sales contracted by 1.2% in 2008. Sales then grew by only 5.7%, to US$75bn, in 2009, as the inflationary surge of 2008, which reduced spending power, abated only moderately. In local-currency terms retail sales growth in 2009 is estimated at 22.7%, owing to depreciation in the value of the Pakistan rupee against the US dollar. A gradual shift towards more formal retail facilities will facilitate the expansion of sales in 2012-14, but this process will be slow and confined to urban areas. (In 2010-11 retail sales expansion will be subdued, as overall private consumption growth slows sharply owing to the catastrophic floods that struck Pakistan in August-September 2010. Electronic retailing is almost non­existent in Pakistan because of the low levels of Internet penetration and credit-card use in the country.

Consumer finance accounted for 4.2% of the total stock of credit in the country in June 2010, according to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP, the central bank). Credit for purchases of consumer durables was down by 25% year on year..... Because of their limited financial resources, most retailers sell on a cash-only basis. This is gradually changing, and credit-card use is likely to become an increasingly important element of personal finance in the long term. However, in the short to medium term credit-card use will be constrained by the poor economic climate: outstanding credit-card loans were down by 25% year on year in June 2010. Large, centralised shops have not been popular in Pakistan, as low levels of car ownership mean that people prefer "corner shops" near their homes. More importantly, frequent and often prolonged power failures reduce the advantages of refrigeration, leading to a preference for fresh goods bought for immediate consumption from neighbourhood retailers. Online retail sales are negligible, owing to the country's extremely low levels of Internet penetration and credit-card ownership and the absence of Internet merchant accounts to facilitate online credit-card transactions.

The retail market is highly fragmented and underdeveloped. There are over 125,000 retail outlets across the country, according to the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Authority, but around 95% of these are tiny corner shops. The few supermarkets that exist are concentrated in Karachi and Lahore. USC is the largest supermarket chain by far, with 5,850 outlets throughout the country in 2009, according to Planet Retail, an international industry consultancy. The other major chains are Whitbread (with 17 outlets in 2009), GNC (with six outlets), Metro (five outlets) and Carrefour (one outlet). However, even USC's market share is virtually insignificant in terms of retailing as a whole, according to Planet Retail, accounting for only 1.2% of total grocery spending in the country. The vast majority of retailers in Pakistan are small family-run shops, and this will remain the case throughout the forecast period (2010-14).

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from a BBC report on violence in Karachi:

According to human rights organisations, 775 people died in political and sectarian shootings and bomb attacks in Karachi in 2010. ...
And although thousands are killed every year in the north-west, the impact of the violence in Karachi is arguably no less important. The city is Pakistan's commercial hub.
Business losses
Karachi provides 70% of the total annual tax revenue collected by the government.
The violence has been largely fuelled by antagonism between the local chapters of three political parties: the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), the mostly Pashtun Awami National Party (ANP) and the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM).
The MQM remains Karachi's dominant political party and represents the city's majority Urdu-speaking community - the descendants of Muslim migrants to India at the time of partition in 1947.

In December 2010, Sindh Home Minister Zulfiqar Mirza accused the MQM of being mainly responsible for the extortion and targeted killings prevalent across the city.

Within 48 hours, an enraged MQM withdrew its support for the PPP-led coalition in Islamabad.

The only reason the government could hold onto power was because opposition parties did not bring a no-confidence motion against the government.

The MQM has since been coaxed back into the coalition and now holds the political balance.

However, tensions remain with the ANP and the PPP.
In Karachi, all three parties have been involved in stoking ethnic passions.
Thousands were arrested; many were were later killed in what human rights organisations and the Pakistan media said were staged killings by security forces.

The MQM fought back - and was held responsible for a number of murders of police and security officials

The party said it was targeted by a conservative security establishment for its liberal politics and for fighting for the rights of the Urdu-speaking community.

Things changed under the government of President Pervez Musharraf and the party now enjoys excellent relations with the establishment.

"The MQM's 'new deal' with the establishment is that its control of Karachi will remain unchallenged by the security establishment," a political analyst, who wished to remain unnamed, told the BBC.

"In return, the MQM will support the establishment's policies in the centre."

MQM insiders acknowledge this deal, although they insist the party will never vote for "anything against the spirit of its ideology".

Obviously, this deal stands as long as the MQM controls Karachi.

But since 2006, the party has been increasingly feeling the pressure exerted by the growth of the Pashtun community in the city.
Activists of the Labour Party Pakistan in Karachi in march 2011 Karachi is home to a bewildering number of political parties and campaigning groups

Arriving here in their thousands, the Pashtun newcomers are in competition for land and jobs with the Urdu-speaking community.

MQM leaders say these new arrivals must not be treated as long-term inhabitants of the city - a call at odds with its identity as a party of migrants.

They say that there is a link between the growth of the Pashtun community and the "Talibanisation" of parts of the city - the Taliban is predominantly made up of Pashtun people.

The MQM say they will resist this at all costs, and this bellicosity has led to violence which has claimed dozens of lives.

Some of it has also involved separate turf battles between Karachi's Baloch community - the original inhabitants of the city - and the MQM.

"It's a complex political and ethnic problem which needs to be handled with extreme care," says a local human rights activist.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a NY Times blog by Huma Yusuf about Pakistan stalled census 2011:

Yet Population Year is drawing to a close and no census is in sight. There are many reasons: the precarious security situation, repeated flooding in many parts of the country, lack of resources to train the 225,000 census takers required to conduct the head count in time. But the main reason is politics. The major parties draw their power from rural constituencies, and by highlighting the extent of the country’s urbanization, a census would lead to the creation of new urban constituencies.

With an eye toward the national elections slated for 2013, many Pakistani politicians are doing everything in their power to circumvent or delay a count. The country’s largest parties, the governing Pakistan Peoples Party and the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-N, are particularly threatened by the prospect of reduced rural constituencies. Newcomers such as the cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, the founder of Tehreek-e-Insaf, which enjoys significant support in Punjabi cities, stand to gain.

Gerrymandering is not rare in boisterous democracies. But in Pakistan, it can be a matter of life and death. In Karachi, from where I have been reporting for eight years, many of the political parties are based on ethnic groups, and a revised count would lead to a revised political balance. Fears that this might happen are fanning ethnic violence. More than 2,100 people have been killed in Karachi in political assassinations over the past two years — a death toll not seen since 1995, a year of widespread ethnic and political violence. Muhammad Jalil, a community organizer in Lyari, one of the worst-affected slums of the city, told me in August that everyone — women, teenage footballers — is exposed to the violence. “Political activists and gangsters are not the only ones targeted. Entire communities are vulnerable.”

Since the 1980s, ethnic Pashtuns and the Urdu-speaking Mohajirs, migrants from northern India, have clashed over access to property and jobs in Karachi. Criminal gangs with ties to political parties — including the ruling P.P.P. — had been warring over smuggling rackets and extortion rings. But as election year approaches, it is Karachi’s shifting demographics that are driving much of the violence.

Until recently, the Mohajirs were the city’s clear majority, accounting for 48 percent of the population, according to the 1998 survey. But military operations against militant groups in northwestern Pakistan since 2007 have increased the flow of Pashto-speaking migrants into Karachi. By some estimates this group now represents 22 percent of the city’s population, up from about 12 percent in 1998. So now the M.Q.M., the Mohajirs’ representative party, fears that a census documenting the expansion of Karachi’s Pashtun population would lead to a redistricting that would favor its local rival, the A.N.P......

Riaz Haq said...

While Pakistan's HDI of 0.504 (2011) ranks it among UNDP's low human development countries, its largest city Karachi's HDI of 0.7885 (2005) is closer to the group of nations given high human development rankings.

In a regional human development analysis for Pakistan done by Haroon Jamal and Amir Jahan Khan of the Social Policy and Development Centre (SPDC), Karachi ranks at the top with HDI of 0.7885, followed by Jhelum district's 0.7698 and Haripur's 0.7339. Lahore has HDI score of 0.6882 and Rawalpindi 0.638.

Karachi often makes news for its recurring episodes of violence which claim many innocent lives. Yet, the city continues to be a big draw for large numbers of rural migrants looking for better economic opportunities. In spite of the many problems they face, it's a fact that even the slums in Karachi offer them better access to education and health care--basic ingredients for human development.

When visitors see a squatter city in India or Pakistan or Bangladesh, they observe overwhelming desperation: rickety shelters, 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.

Riaz Haq said...

Online News: Half of Pakistan’s population may live in cities by 2030

ISLAMABAD: More than half of Pakistan’s population is estimated to be living in cities by the year 2030. Both natural increase and net migration are major contributory factors to urban growth.

These views were expressed by participants of a seminar on “Business and the Middle Class in Pakistan organized by the Planning Commission of Pakistan which was held here on Wednesday.

The seminar included speakers and discussants from some of the largest companies and businesses in Pakistan, coming together to discuss the importance of the evolving middle class in Pakistan.

The participants said that current urban growth rate was approximately 3.5 per cent as compare to 2 per cent nationally. More rural people are migrating to urban centers for higher-paying jobs. Upward social mobility creating and expanding the middle class.

Given the low median age, Pakistan’s middle class is unusually young as compared to developed economies, meaning that younger population will have the most disposable incomes.The expanding middle class consumers will aim for first world aspirations and greater focus will be on branded retail products. The middle class has been growing in number as well as in importance all over the world, which is why businesses strategize targeting this specific class.

The participants said that the middle class is conceptually defined as the class between the rich and the poor; however its boundaries are usually made arbitrarily. It is also important to note the multi-dimensionality of an adequate definition; a person belonging to the middle class needs to be evaluated not only on a monetary basis, other aspects of quality of life and available opportunities need to be encapsulated to arrive at a well rounded definition.

They said that studies show a positive relationship between the higher share of income for the middle class and economic growth as well as political aspects like democracy. Other studies indicate the emergence of entrepreneurs from the middle class. It is the middle class that was the driver of success in India and China.

They said that the biggest opportunity of the rising middle class, at present and future will be for companies selling mass-consumer goods and services. As incomes rise spending patterns will incorporate discretionary and small luxury items while proportionate expenditure on food, clothing and other necessities tend to shrink.

While the basics may decline as a share of consumption, in absolute terms they will continue to grow. Housing, healthcare and educational expenses are expected to register a greater share of the wallet – this spending will be driven by the strong link between education and higher salaries, as well as growing number of options for both higher and vocational education.

Riaz Haq said...

Rising per capita income and a growing, young population spending more time online and at Western movies are helping build a mass market in Pakistan, according to Businessweek:

One way to take a city’s economic pulse is to check out where locals shop. In Karachi, Pakistan, shoppers are flocking to Port Grand, which opened in May. Built as a promenade by the historic harbor for almost $23 million, the center caters to Pakistanis eager to indulge themselves. This city of 20 million has seen more than 1,500 deaths from political and sectarian violence from January to August. At Port Grand the only hint of the turmoil is the presence of security details and surveillance cameras. “The whole world is going through a new security environment,” says Shahid Firoz, 61, Port Grand’s developer. “We have to be very conscious of security just as any other significant facility anywhere in the world needs to be.”

Young people stroll the promenade eating burgers and fries and browsing through 60 stores and stalls that sell everything from high fashion to silver bracelets to ice cream. Ornate benches dot a landscaped area around a 150-year-old banyan tree. “Port Grand is something fresh for the city, very aesthetically pleasing and unique,” says Yasmine Ibrahim, a 25-year-old Lebanese American who is helping set up a student affairs office at a new university in Karachi.

One-third of Pakistan’s 170 million people are under the age of 15, which means the leisure business will continue to grow, says Naveed Vakil, head of research at AKD Securities. Per capita income has grown to $1,254 a year in June from $1,073 three years ago.

The appetite for things American is strong despite the rise in tensions between the two allies. Hardee’s opened its first Karachi outlet in September: In the first few days customers waited for hours. It plans to open 10 more restaurants in Pakistan in the next two and a half years, says franchisee Imran Ahmed Khan. U.S. movies are attracting crowds to the recently opened Atrium Cinemas, which would not be out of place in suburban Chicago. Current features include The Adventures of Tintin and the latest Twilight Saga installment. Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol is coming soon. Operator Nadeem Mandviwalla says the cinema industry in Pakistan is growing 30 percent a year.

Exposure to Western lifestyles through cable television and the Internet is raising demand for these goods and services. Pakistan has 20 million Internet users, compared with 133,900 a decade ago, while 25 foreign channels, such as CNN (TWX) and BBC World News, are now available. And for many Pakistanis, reruns of the U.S. sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond are a regular treat.

The bottom line: With per capita income rising quickly, Pakistan is developing a mass market eager for Western goods.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are excerpts of a Washington Post report on faltering family planning effort in Pakistan:

The government says it is committed to slowing population growth, which it referred to in a report last year as a “major impediment to [Pakistan’s] socioeconomic development process.” But public health experts say they have seen little beyond lip service.

In rural areas, access to family planning services is limited and hampered by deteriorating security, while government health workers are overburdened. International donors want bang for bucks, and working in the countryside is more expensive, said Mohsina Bilgrami of the Marie Stopes Society in Pakistan, another nongovernmental organization.

Greenstar is the country’s largest contraceptive provider, but “we’re a drop in the bucket in a country of 180 million,” said Shirine Mohagheghpour, the technical adviser for Greenstar, an affiliate of the Washington-based Population Services International. “You have to do this community by community.”

Shahid keeps her message basic. In one colorful illustration she shows on home visits, grimy children wail in a tattered house. In another, a mother shakes a rattle at a baby, a father frolics with a toddler and a child reads a book in a tidy dwelling. Intrauterine devices can help make the second picture a reality, she says.

“You can live tension-free,” she said to a room full of women in Mirwah. “Your husband will be happy. Your mother-in-law will be happy. You can pay attention to the children you already have. If you continue having children year after year, you will get sick.”

In urban, middle-class areas, the message is slowly resonating. Two hours away, in the city of Mirpurkhas, a similar discussion with women and a few mothers-in-law sparked boisterous discussion. Several said children were simply too expensive.

“If it’s a sin, there shouldn’t be doctors who offer it,” one said of contraception, eliciting nods.

At a private clinic in Mirwah, a woman named Buri, 35, said firmly that a small family is best. But it was too late: Married at age 13, she was pregnant 12 times before she opted for tubal ligation, a sterilization procedure. Ten of her children lived. None attends school.

“They are uninterested in school,” she said. “Parents are too busy in the fields to pay attention.”

Next to Buri lay her sister-in-law, silently shivering under a floral sheet, in labor with her first child. Presiding over the scene was their mother-in-law, a woman in ornate silver jewelry, who matter-of-factly stated that the newborn should be the first of at least eight.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a NY Times story about Dharavi slum that illustrates entrepreneurship at the bottom:

At the edge of India’s greatest slum, Shaikh Mobin’s decrepit shanty is cleaved like a wedding cake, four layers high and sliced down the middle. The missing half has been demolished. What remains appears ready for demolition, too, with temporary walls and a rickety corrugated roof.

Yet inside, carpenters are assembling furniture on the ground floor. One floor up, men are busily cutting and stitching blue jeans. Upstairs from them, workers are crouched over sewing machines, making blouses. And at the top, still more workers are fashioning men’s suits and wedding apparel. One crumbling shanty. Four businesses.

In the labyrinthine slum known as Dharavi are 60,000 structures, many of them shanties, and as many as one million people living and working on a triangle of land barely two-thirds the size of Central Park in Manhattan. Dharavi is one of the world’s most infamous slums, a cliché of Indian misery. It is also a churning hive of workshops with an annual economic output estimated to be $600 million to more than $1 billion.

“This is a parallel economy,” said Mr. Mobin, whose family is involved in several businesses in Dharavi. “In most developed countries, there is only one economy. But in India, there are two.”.....

Similar to Dharavi, Karachi's Orangi town is an example of undocumented entrepreneurship in the shanties. From garments to leather to furniture, there are many small cottage industries operated by small entrepreneurs in Orangi town.

Riaz Haq said...

The BBC is reporting that city dwellers in China now outnumber rural dwellers for the first time as more people seek better economic opportunities, official figures show:

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said that there were now 690.8m people - 51.3% of China's total 1.3bn population - in urban areas.

The 21m who moved to cities in 2011 included a large number of migrant workers, according to the NBS.

In comparison, there are 656.6m people living in rural areas.

That city dwellers now outnumber the rural population comes as no surprise.

When China released the results of its census - conducted once every 10 years - in April 2011, figures showed a dramatic rural to urban shift.

It said that the proportion of the population living in the cities had risen by almost 14% in a decade - workers drawn to jobs in China's factories and coastal industrial zones.

The census for the first time counted migrant workers where they were living, rather than where they were registered

Chinese academics have called for new policies to tackle the population shift, like making better social welfare provision for migrant workers.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a story of China's recent decline in workforce:

Due to an ageing population and a decline in the fertility rate, China's labor force in 2011 registered the first decline in its numbers in 10 years, with its population aged between 15 and 64 accounting for 74.4% of the total, a slight drop of 0.1 percentage point, according to data released by the country's National Bureau of Statistics.

The figures send out a warning signal since the supply of labor in China can impact economic growth momentum, the Shanghai-based Oriental Morning Post reports.

According to the data released on the bureau's website, China's labor population experienced its first fall since 2002, while the proportion of urban population surpassed 50% for the first time last year, following rapid urbanization caused by a rise in living standards and the launch of a large number of public construction projects.

The data showed that urban population had reached 51.27% of the total in 2011, up 1.32 percentage points from the previous year. Urban population increased 21 million to 609.08 million, while the rural population was reduced by 14.56 million to 656.56 million.

Li Shi, a professor at Beijing Normal University, said many are concerned that China will lose its "demographic dividend" in the labor force, though it is uncertain how many years it may take for such a complete loss of advantage to occur.

The key for China to maintain its labor force advantage hinges on changes within its existing systems, such as retirement age, Li said. He added that if the country's retirement age could be extended, China could hold its labor force advantage for a longer time.

Li further said that many statistics do not accurately reflect the country's real situation. For instance, the number of migrant workers who registered their households in rural areas was not available.

Echoing Li's view, Ren Yuan, a professor at Fudan University's School of Social Development and Public Policy in Shanghai, also said the level of urbanization was overestimated because a large number of migrant workers in cities were included in the statistics of urban residents. He described the situation as being not fully urbanized.

Since urbanization was a necessary consequence of economic development, the biggest concern is whether the supply of labor can meet the needs of economic development.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts of an NPR Fresh Air interview of Katherine Boo, the author of Behind the Beautiful Forevers:

.......Some inhabitants (of Mumbai slum Annawadi) lack any shelter and sleep outside. Rats commonly bite sleeping children, and barely a handful of the 3,000 residents have the security of full-time employment. Over the course of her time in Annawadi, Boo learned about the residents' social distinctions, their struggles to escape poverty, and conflicts that sometimes threw them into the clutches of corrupt government officials. Her book reads like a novel, but the characters are real.
BOO: Well, I'll describe it (the slum) this way. You come into the Mumbai International Airport, you make a turn, and you go past a lavish Hyatt and a beautiful hotel called the Grand Maratha. By the time you get to the Hyatt, which is about three minutes in your car, you've already gone past this place.

There's a rocky road that goes into it, and you turn in, and the first thing you notice when you get into this landscape of hand-built, makeshift, crooked huts is one of the borders of the slum - or it was I came in 2008 - was this vast lake of extremely noxious sewage and petrochemicals and things that the people modernizing the glamorous airport had dumped in the lake.

And so it was almost beachfront property on this foul, malarial lake, and all around it in this, the single open space in the slum were people cooking and bathing and fighting and flirting. And there were goats and water buffalo. There was a little brothel, and men would line up outside the little brothel. And there was a liquor still.

And mainly there were families and children who were trying their best to find a niche in the global market economy. Almost no one in Annawadi had permanent work. Six people out of 3,000 last I checked had permanent work.
DAVIES: One of the most remarkable things to read here was that you tell us in the book that no one in Annawadi was actually considered poor by traditional Indian benchmarks. Is that right? I mean, if they're not poor, who is poor?

BOO: Go to the village, and you'll see what poor is. No, so officially, the poverty lines in many countries, including India, are set so low that officially the people that I'm writing about look like part of the great success narrative of modern global capitalism. They look like the more than 100 million people who have been freed since liberalization in India in 1991 from poverty.

So usually in my work, I'm not looking to write about the poorest and abject. I'm not looking to make you feel sorry for people. I want readers to have a connection more blooded and complex than pity or revulsion. But really, the main point I have to say is that on the books, these men, women and children have succeeded in the global economy. They're the success stories.

But I hope what my book shows is that it's a little more complicated than that.

DAVIES: Well, I mean, so many of them are just on the edge of losing, you know, food and shelter for the day. I mean, are the truly poor, are they rural poor who sleep out in the open? I mean, who are the...?

BOO: Well, many people in Annawadi sleep out in the open, too, but when Asha(ph) - in the book, I follow Asha, the mother, who has used politics and corruption to try to give her daughter a college education, I follow her back home to Vidarbha, a very poor agricultural region.

And when Asha walks through the door, everybody can see on her face and the face of her children how good life is in the Mumbai slums. Asha's grandmother walks on all fours, she's so bent from agricultural labor. And when Asha walks in that door, she stands mast straight.,,,

Riaz Haq said...

Here are excerpts of David Brooks Op Ed in NY Times:

Usually, high religious observance and low income go along with high birthrates. But, according to the United States Census Bureau, Iran now has a similar birth rate to New England — which is the least fertile region in the U.S.

The speed of the change is breathtaking. A woman in Oman today has 5.6 fewer babies than a woman in Oman 30 years ago. Morocco, Syria and Saudi Arabia have seen fertility-rate declines of nearly 60 percent, and in Iran it’s more than 70 percent. These are among the fastest declines in recorded history.

The Iranian regime is aware of how the rapidly aging population and the lack of young people entering the work force could lead to long-term decline. But there’s not much they have been able to do about it. Maybe Iranians are pessimistic about the future. Maybe Iranian parents just want smaller families.
If you look around the world, you see many other nations facing demographic headwinds. If the 20th century was the century of the population explosion, the 21st century, as Eberstadt notes, is looking like the century of the fertility implosion.

Already, nearly half the world’s population lives in countries with birthrates below the replacement level. According to the Census Bureau, the total increase in global manpower between 2010 and 2030 will be just half the increase we experienced in the two decades that just ended. At the same time, according to work by the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis, the growth in educational attainment around the world is slowing.

This leads to what the writer Philip Longman has called the gray tsunami — a situation in which huge shares of the population are over 60 and small shares are under 30.
Rapidly aging Japan has one of the worst demographic profiles, and most European profiles are famously grim. In China, long-term economic growth could face serious demographic restraints. The number of Chinese senior citizens is soaring by 3.7 percent year after year. By 2030, as Eberstadt notes, there will be many more older workers (ages 50-64) than younger workers (15-29). In 2010, there were almost twice as many younger ones. In a culture where there is low social trust outside the family, a generation of only children is giving birth to another generation of only children, which is bound to lead to deep social change.

Even the countries with healthier demographics are facing problems. India, for example, will continue to produce plenty of young workers. By 2030, according to the Vienna Institute of Demography, India will have 100 million relatively educated young men, compared with fewer than 75 million in China.

But India faces a regional challenge. Population growth is high in the northern parts of the country, where people tend to be poorer and less educated. Meanwhile, fertility rates in the southern parts of the country, where people are richer and better educated, are already below replacement levels.

The U.S. has long had higher birthrates than Japan and most European nations. The U.S. population is increasing at every age level, thanks in part to immigration. America is aging, but not as fast as other countries.

But even that is looking fragile. The 2010 census suggested that U.S. population growth is decelerating faster than many expected.....

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from Javed Burki's ET Op Ed on internal migration in Pakistan:

One reason for this may be that the rural poor choose to relocate themselves in the urban areas in the expectation that more jobs will be available in the urban economy. Economists call this the ‘push factor’ when poor economic conditions in the place of residence persuades people to move to the areas where there may be better prospects for finding jobs. Opposite to this is the ‘pull factor’ when it is known that better paying jobs are available in a particular geographic space some distance away from the place of residence.

The push factor is independent of the amount of distance travelled by those who choose to move out. Short distance migration especially in southern Punjab is an example of the push factor. One result of this is that poverty simply gets exported from one place to the other. Just by moving out, the migrants help those who remain behind. However, they bring down average incomes by moving into the urban areas that don’t have many opportunities to offer. This appears to have happened in the case of the southern districts of Punjab.

For some reason, those discouraged by their circumstances in the countryside as are the people in the southern districts of Punjab province, have preferred to relocate in the nearby towns and cities. They seem to avoid long-distance migration. There are, accordingly, relatively few people from these districts in the well-populated Pakistani diasporas in the Middle East, Britain and North America. A good example is out-migration from Gujrat district situated on the border of central and northern Punjab. The people from this district are to be found in many distant places. They constitute the bulk of the Pakistani population now resident permanently in Norway. I was once told by the Norwegian ambassador to Pakistan that one percent of her country’s population was made up of Pakistanis. In Oslo, the country’s capital, Pakistanis accounted for 10 per cent of the population. Most of these people were from Gujrat district.

Outmigration from Gujrat to Europe offers some interesting insights not only for understanding why people move but also of the choice of their destinations. Once it was appreciated in the district that migration was an important and effective contributor to poverty alleviation, people began to look actively for the opportunities that were available. The Gujratis took advantage of the path discovered by illegal migrants from North Africa to Spain to join this stream of migration. There is now a fairly large community in Barcelona of the people from this district.

Karachi’s growth, on the other hand, is a good example of the pull factor. Millions of people who have left their homes in such poor areas as the tribal regions of Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa (K-P) and the barani areas of north Punjab and Azad Kashmir and moved to Karachi. By doing so, they have generally improved their economic situation. They also help the places from which they come by sending back remittances. These have become important contributors to the incomes of the areas such as North Punjab and K-P. Although in its Punjab study the IPP did not do work on the impact of remittances on economic and social development, there is good reason to argue that this must have been positive.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Dawn newspaper Op Ed by S. Akbar Zaidi, a Pakistani political economist, about economic myths in Pakistan:

...absence of scholarly engagement results in numerous myths about Pakistan’s economy which become part of the general conversation, and then of conventional wisdom. One can list any number of such misperceptions, but perhaps a handful will emphasise the point.

It is not the fast-moving consumer goods, the Engros and the Habib Banks, or Pepsi or Unilever or ICI, which drive Pakistan’s industry, as so many of the elite who work for them falsely believe. Instead, Pakistan’s industrial force and its economy are based on the dynamic and creative small-scale or informal sector.

Research at LUMS has shown that this sector constitutes as much as 90 per cent of economic establishments, 30 per cent of GDP and 25 per cent of export earnings, and employs 78 per cent of the non-agricultural labour force of Pakistan.

These 3.3 million small- and medium-sized establishments are highly labour-intensive in comparison with the large-scale manufacturing sector, and around 95 per cent employ less than five workers. The backbone of Pakistan’s economy is its informal, small-scale sector, for which policy is seldom designed.

A second myth repeated ad nauseam is that Pakistan is predominantly rural and is an ‘agricultural country’. Research by Reza Ali showed as long ago as 1998 when the last census was held, that Pakistan was almost half urban and half rural, using more productive and useful definitions of ‘urban’, and not the moribund definitions proposed by the Census Organisation.

Fifteen years later, although research awaits the next census, it is not possible to call Pakistan a ‘rural’ country by any stretch of the imagination. If anything, probably 60 or 70 per cent of the people in Pakistan reside in areas one should call urban.

Furthermore, with integrated communication services and linkages, the idea of a ‘rural’ and ‘urban’ divide is increasingly redundant, and one ought to consider settlements and habitation on a continuum.

Since Pakistan is primarily urban, it is also no longer agricultural in terms of the contribution to the economy to which agriculture contributes only one-fifth. However, agriculture is still the main form of employment for Pakistani labour — around 45 per cent of the workforce.

Nevertheless, in areas which are designated by the government as ‘rural’, the non-agricultural sector generates nearly 60 per cent of the total income. Hence, even in ‘rural’ areas, economic activity other than agriculture provides a greater share of income than does agricultural activity.

One might just add in passing that Pakistan — its economy, its agriculture and its relations of production — is not feudal, no matter how often one repeats the claim that it is. At least on this one count, many social scientists are grudgingly coming around, although since many Western journalists only meet such ‘feudals’, they still write mainly about ‘feudal’ Pakistan.

Many liberal members of the Pakistani elite argue for a reduction in the military budget, believing that this will lead to a resultant rise in social-sector spending. One look at the data will show that both have fallen over the last decade.

Yet another particularly pervasive and persistent myth amongst Pakistan’s elite is that US aid to Pakistan is ‘good for the country’, when academic research has shown consistently that nothing could be farther from the truth.

There are numerous other such false hopes which Pakistan’s elite invests in, some of which are translated into government policy. Nevertheless, perception matters perhaps more than reality. If people believe something, they act on the basis of that false knowledge and understanding. Many explanations as to why Pakistan is in such dire straits rest at the doorstep of
Pakistan’s literate, though highly uneducated, elite.

Mayraj said...

"Major demographic changes have taken place in Pakistan since Independence, with major
impact on the political and economic power of small towns. The nature of these changes is
detailed in Tables 13–15 in Appendix 3, and also reflected in Maps 4–6. The tables show
that an increasing number of Pakistanis now live in the larger cities, of a million or more
people. In 1951, 45 per cent of Pakistanis lived in 198 cities of less than 50,000 people,
while 18 per cent lived in cities of above one million (of which there was only one). In 1998,
50 per cent of Pakistanis lived in million-plus cities (of which there were then six), and only
28 per cent lived in the 418 cities of 50,000 or under. This shows that the political and
economic power of the smaller cities has declined.
However, there are major provincial variations. For instance, in the Punjab, the number of
cities of under 25,000 people declined between 1951 and 1998, whereas in Sindh this
increased from 23 to 107, and in Balochistan from 15 to 27. These differences are explained
by the higher level of industrial spread around the larger towns in the Punjab, as compared
to the other provinces"

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a New York Times story on economic and income mobility in US:

This geography appears to play a major role in making Atlanta one of the metropolitan areas where it is most difficult for lower-income households to rise into the middle class and beyond, according to a new study that other researchers are calling the most detailed portrait yet of income mobility in the United States.

The study — based on millions of anonymous earnings records and being released this week by a team of top academic economists — is the first with enough data to compare upward mobility across metropolitan areas. These comparisons provide some of the most powerful evidence so far about the factors that seem to drive people’s chances of rising beyond the station of their birth, including education, family structure and the economic layout of metropolitan areas.

Climbing the income ladder occurs less often in the Southeast and industrial Midwest, the data shows, with the odds notably low in Atlanta, Charlotte, Memphis, Raleigh, Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Columbus. By contrast, some of the highest rates occur in the Northeast, Great Plains and West, including in New York, Boston, Salt Lake City, Pittsburgh, Seattle and large swaths of California and Minnesota.

“Where you grow up matters,” said Nathaniel Hendren, a Harvard economist and one of the study’s authors. “There is tremendous variation across the U.S. in the extent to which kids can rise out of poverty.”

That variation does not stem simply from the fact that some areas have higher average incomes: upward mobility rates, Mr. Hendren added, often differ sharply in areas where average income is similar, like Atlanta and Seattle.

The gaps can be stark. On average, fairly poor children in Seattle — those who grew up in the 25th percentile of the national income distribution — do as well financially when they grow up as middle-class children — those who grew up at the 50th percentile — from Atlanta.

Geography mattered much less for well-off children than for middle-class and poor children, according to the results. In an economic echo of Tolstoy’s line about happy families being alike, the chances that affluent children grow up to be affluent are broadly similar across metropolitan areas.
What they found surprised them, said Raj Chetty, one of the authors and the most recent winner of the John Bates Clark Medal, which the American Economic Association awards to the country’s best academic economist under the age of 40. The researchers concluded that larger tax credits for the poor and higher taxes on the affluent seemed to improve income mobility only slightly. The economists also found only modest or no correlation between mobility and the number of local colleges and their tuition rates or between mobility and the amount of extreme wealth in a region.

But the researchers identified four broad factors that appeared to affect income mobility, including the size and dispersion of the local middle class. All else being equal, upward mobility tended to be higher in metropolitan areas where poor families were more dispersed among mixed-income neighborhoods.

Income mobility was also higher in areas with more two-parent households, better elementary schools and high schools, and more civic engagement, including membership in religious and community groups.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of a Dawn Op Ed on declining fertility rates in Pakistan:

Getting down to two children per family may seem an elusive target, however, Pakistanis have made huge dents in the alarmingly high fertility rates, despite the widespread opposition to family planning. Since 1988, the fertility rate in Pakistan has declined from 6.2 births per woman to 3.5 in 2009. In a country where the religious and other conservatives oppose all forms of family planning, a decline of 44 per cent in fertility rate is nothing short of a miracle.

A recent paper explores the impact of family planning programs in Pakistan. The paper uses data from the 2006-07 Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey, which interviewed 10, 023 ever-married women between the ages of 15 and 49 years. The survey revealed that only 30 per cent women used contraceptives in Pakistan. Though the paper in its current draft has several shortcomings, yet it still offers several insights into what contributes to high fertility and what the effective strategies are to check high fertility rates in Pakistan.

The survey revealed that the use of contraceptives did not have any significant impact for women who had given birth to six or more children. While 24 per cent women who were not using any contraceptives reported six or more births, 37 per cent of those who used contraceptives reported six or more births. At the same time, 27 per cent of women who were not visited by the family planning staff reported six or more births compared with 22 per cent of women who had a visit with the family planning staff.

Meanwhile, demographic and socio-economic factors reported strong correlation with the fertility outcomes. Women who were at least 19 years old at marriage were much less likely to have four or more births than those who were younger at the time of marriage. Similarly, those who gave birth before they turned 19 were much more likely to have four or more births.

Education also reported strong correlation with fertility outcomes. Consider that 58 per cent of illiterate women reported four or more births compared to 21 per cent of those who were highly educated. Similarly, 60 per cent of the women married to illiterate men reported four or more births compared to 39 per cent of the women married to highly educated men. The survey revealed that literacy among women mattered more for reducing fertility rates than literacy among their husbands.

The underlying variable that defines literacy and the prevalence of contraceptives in Pakistan is the economic status of the households. The survey revealed that 32 per cent of women from poor households reported six or more births compared to 21 per cent of those who were from affluent households.

The above results suggest that family planning efforts in Pakistan are likely to succeed if the focus is on educating young women. Educated young women are likely to get married later and will have fewer children. This is also supported by a comprehensive study by the World Bank in which Andaleeb Alam and others observed that cash transfer programs in Punjab to support female education resulted in a nine percentage point increase in female enrollment. At the same time, the authors found that those girls who participated in the program delayed their marriage and had fewer births by the time they turned 19.

Riaz Haq said...

World Bank report on population planning in Pakistan:

In 1950, the average Pakistani woman had more than 6 children. This has dropped to a little over 3 but has stalled in recent years.

Men show increasing interest about family planning and contraception due to the financial challenges of raising large families.

Interventions should be backed up by an improvement in the supply of contraceptives and availability of family planning services in accessible facilities.

While healthcare systems have numerous opportunities for women to discuss family planning (e.g. antenatal care, deliveries, mother-and-child health services), far fewer opportunities exist for men. A recent study in Pakistan carried out by the Population Council with funding from the World Bank through the Bank-Netherlands Partnership Program (BNPP) found that men indeed want fewer children and are eager to receive technical information about family planning.

The study explored couples’ decision making processes regarding family size and contraceptive choices. It also looked at community perceptions of male-focused family planning interventions and men’s suggestions for future intervention strategies.

The qualitative study took place in four districts in Punjab, Pakistan and consisted of focus group discussions with men and in-depth interviews with couples. Data from existing quantitative baseline and surveys in the same area were also reanalyzed to assess the impact of male-directed interventions on fertility intentions and behavior.


Make men a primary focus of family planning programs in Punjab. Male-specific interventions should be introduced to augment men’s lack of knowledge of family planning methods, encourage timely decisions on fertility issues, and increase contraceptive use.
Initiate male group meetings with full geographic coverage, facilitated by a local or community resident and conducted by an ‘outsider’ health professional (preferably a doctor). To minimize delay in contraceptive uptake, contraceptives should be made available at the end of these meetings.
Train religious leaders to deliver messages communicating that birth spacing and family planning are allowed in Islam.
Ensure regular supplies to clients in order to decrease supply-side barriers to family planning use.
Service providers should be knowledgeable and skillful, and trained on managing side effects to increase and sustain family planning use.

Riaz Haq said...

These past movements took three directions. A very large number of people came in from the outside. The country was born in the midst of a demographic convulsion. As many as eight million Muslims left the newly-independent India and headed for the newly-born Pakistan. Six million Hindus and Sikhs moved in the opposite direction. A smaller, but still a significantly large number of people left the country and settled abroad. Millions of people moved within the country. Some of them went looking for work. Others were forced out by natural or man-made disasters. The country is currently dealing with the displacement of half a million people from North Waziristan as a result of Operation Zarb-e-Azb.
No firm estimates are available for the number of people involved in these movements so we will have to do with guesstimates. Of Pakistan’s current population of almost 200 million, a third are refugees or their descendants. Their number is probably 60 million. This is by far the highest concentration of refugees in the population of a country comparable to Pakistan’s size. The largest component of this group came from India during Partition; of the eight million Muslim refugees who came to Pakistan, some 5.5 million settled in Punjab. Many of them were accommodated on the properties left by the Hindus and Sikhs. This group was quickly absorbed since they were ethnically similar to those who lived in this area. They also spoke the same language. The descendants of this group now number about 35 million.
For most of the remaining 25 million, assimilation was much harder. This is not a homogenous group. It includes the descendants of the refugees from India, those who came later from Bangladesh when that country became independent in 1971, and those who were displaced by natural disasters and other crises. The refugees who came to Pakistan from the Muslim-minority provinces of British India such as Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi, Bombay, and Gujarat still stand out as a separate community. Their effort to get accommodated created ethnic tensions and associated violence in the country, particularly in Karachi. This composite group now numbers about 15 million, of which about 12 million live in Karachi. The remaining are scattered in other parts of urban Pakistan, mostly in the larger cities of southern Sindh. Of this group, those who call themselves muhajirs number about eight to nine million.
The second large-scale movement of people involved job seekers. About 10 million people were involved in this movement. A significant number of these went to Karachi. Some of those who came from Punjab returned home as the pace of economic growth picked up in the province, particularly during the presidency of Ayub Khan. The Pakhtun population stayed, locating itself in the bastis founded on Karachi’s periphery. Once opportunities in the construction industry declined, many of them took up jobs or established businesses in transport and other parts of the service sector. The current size of this population is about three million.
Once the Pakhtun areas became established in the city, they attracted the Pakhtun populations displaced by the two wars in Afghanistan. This movement of people probably added another two million, bringing the total to five million. This is equivalent to one-fourth of Karachi’s population.
To summarise this arithmetic: 60 million economic and political refugees in Pakistan are divided into four fairly distinct, but large groups and each of these four groups has shaped Pakistan’s history in different ways.

Riaz Haq said...

Urbanisation is key to why India is so far in China’s wake

Expectations are high that India will finally realise its full economic potential through a combination of Modi magic, its abundant young labour force and a more liberal policy regime. A recent adjustment in the country’s accounting has led to claims that it may already have replaced China as the world’s fastest growing economy. Yet, if India is to achieve the same sustained success as China, it needs to take a hard look at why its urbanisation process has failed so miserably in comparison.


The reason why India has failed and China succeeded can be illustrated by two simple indicators: their respective ratios of urban to rural incomes and the prices of urban property.

The ratio of incomes gives a sense of the relative differences in productivity between the cities and countryside. For China, this ratio is 3.2 – the highest in world. On average, urban workers are more than three times as productive as rural workers and are being compensated accordingly. No wonder some 270m migrant workers have flocked to the cities to secure better paying industrial jobs. For India, the same measure gives a ratio of 1.6, one of the lowest for emerging market economies, indicating that urban productivity is only moderately higher than in rural areas, and cities do not offer such a magnet of higher earnings.

The other key indicator is the relative difference in property prices in China versus India. China’s mega-cities have seen a five-fold increase in property prices in renminbi terms, or nearly seven-fold in US dollars over the past decade. No wonder concerns about a possible property bubble in China dominate global financial news. Yet despite these astounding increases, property prices in Beijing and Shanghai are still only half those of their Indian counterparts of New Delhi and Mumbai.

So because the productivity-related benefits are so much lower in India, the incentive for rural workers to migrate to the cities is much less than in China and this is accentuated by the relatively higher cost of living in Indian cities due to exorbitant property prices. These same inflated property prices coupled with other factors — notably logistical bottlenecks — put Indian manufacturers at a cost disadvantage in competing in global markets despite their lower wages. The net effect is to hobble India’s progress.

India’s lower urban-to-rural productivity ratio is partly the result of well-recognised distortions in its investment and pricing regime, as highlighted in studies done by the World Bank and IMF. But less widely understood is the negative impact of urban land-management policies.

India’s excessively high property prices reflect a combination of two archaic practices. One is the legacy of its colonial past in reserving large parcels of valuable urban land for government use, including sprawling and wasteful estates for civil servants and military cantonments. The other comes from outdated and overly rigid building codes that discourage concentrated development of commercial activity and housing in the core of its major cities. This pushes development to the outer suburbs, making it difficult to realise the agglomeration benefits that drive productivity gains.

Unless these issues are addressed, India cannot realise the growth benefits from a more rapid urbanisation-cum-industrialisation process which has characterised China and much of east Asia over the past four decades.

Unknown said...

Though I am late in reply and going back to the original article while keeping politics aside, good work, balance analysis and nice structure. Simply excellent work Mr. Riaz. Appreciated.

Riaz Haq said...

AFP on slum removal and evictions in Islamabad:

Arif Hasan, widely considered Pakistan’s foremost urban planner, blamed much of the rise on speculation by developers, while urbanisation, infrastructure expansion and a recent economic revival have also helped push up prices.
“Land is the new gold,” said Hasan, adding that at least 30 per cent of Pakistan’s urban population can only afford to live in areas considered “slums” or “katchi abadis”.
“You cannot have a city like Islamabad without having a sizeable area for affordable low-income housing,” he said. “It is irresponsible at best and criminal at worst.” Designed by Greek architect Constantinos Apostolou Doxiadis, Islamabad was founded in 1960 to house the newly independent country’s bureaucrats.

Its wide boulevards and grid design set it apart from most South Asian cities, but also mean it offers little accommodation for the lower-classes who work as labourers or domestic servants for the well-to-do.
Political activist Aasim Sajjad Akhtar said the poor were being unfairly penalised for not having the wealth or power to influence officials and claimed authorities were running a smear campaign against slum residents, most ethnic Pashtuns who have escaped unrest in the northwest and tribal areas.
“They chose to demonise and criminalise the residents, calling them crooks and terrorists. They use their Pashtun ethnicity to create the idea they are terror sympathisers.” Authorities have rejected such accusations in the past.

Riaz Haq said...

Slums could inspire the cities of the future. Here's how

Soon, one third of humanity will live in a slum. Our cities are at breaking point. Over 90% of urbanisation this century will be due to the growth of slums. By the end of this century, the top megacities will no longer be London and Tokyo; they will almost all be in Asia and Africa, and they will be far bigger than the metropolises of today. Lagos is projected to have a population of 88 million. Dhaka: 76 million. Kinshasa: 63 million. The world is fundamentally restructuring itself.

What if there were a new type of city that is a better fit for this century? One that is more lightweight, light touch and adaptive than we’ve seen before. What if the future of our cities could come from the rethinking of slums?

Sustainable. Walkable. Livable. These terms are often used to paint visions of our preferred urban future. Yet the formal notion of a city is quite calcified; it’s heavy and clunky and inflexible. Cities today lack the flexibility to absorb emerging radical possibilities. What good are new solutions if the system can’t absorb them?

City leaders across Asia and Africa are looking for solutions for their cities. What if they found them in the most unlikely of places: their slums? The informality of slums creates a white space from which a new vision for urban living could emerge – and that’s where the concept of microcities can begin to take root.

Slums don’t have to be a glitch, or a problem. They can be an asset. By considering urban living at the human scale, and from a bird’s eye view, we can redesign slums as more liveable, lightweight and adaptive places. Places that are a better fit for the modern world; places in which a diverse group of citizens can not just survive, but thrive.

What is a microcity?
A microcity is a framework for urban reform. It has three core elements:

1) A microcity is a conversion of an existing slum.

2) It is a semi-autonomous, privately owned and operated Special Demonstration Zone (SDZ) for up to 100,000 inhabitants.

3) Each microcity is designed using integrated solutions. They are urban laboratories in emerging cities in Asia, Africa, and Latin America that will become testbeds for more agile approaches to healthcare, governance, education, energy provision and every other aspect of city life.

City governments will have three main roles to play. First, they can help identify the slum area to be converted. Secondly, they have to lay down the main arteries – the main roads into the area, along with the necessary infrastructure. Third, they pass a resolution establishing the microcity as an SDZ – a semi-autonomous area, similar to a Special Economic Zone, which becomes an innovation lab to test new forms of technology and governance.


So what will a microcity look like – and what would it be like to live in one? A microcity will be a semi-autonomous area within its city, using a blockchain-based governance system that decentralises and automates much of its administration. It would feature a blockchain-based membership system, for example, that offers access to all key functions through member service hubs that become its inhabitants’ key point of contact for almost everything.

As well as connecting citizens, the microcity’s software would also work seamlessly together.

Imagine a healthcare system that takes care of 85% of people’s health needs through micro health clinics. Or a school system designed for the modern era, which focuses on project-based education. Or a food system that prioritises lab-grown food and industrial community kitchens, with a financial system that provides branchless banking. And, of course, free and fast wifi that connects everything and everyone.

Riaz Haq said...

Working Paper Series on Rural-Urban Interactions
and Livelihood Strategies
Migration and small towns in Pakistan

Migration has long played a key role in shaping the size and distribution of the population of
Pakistan. Since the partition of the British Indian Empire in 1947, and up to recent and
ongoing conflicts within the region, Pakistan has been the destination for large numbers of
cross-border migrants and refugees. These migrant groups, together with the growing
number of rural people displaced by agricultural modernization and mechanization, have
contributed to the substantial increase in the levels of urbanization in Pakistan, especially in
the more industrialized provinces of Punjab and Sindh. At the same time, like the people of
so many low- and middle-income nations, Pakistani citizens have sought work abroad, and
in the 1970s large-scale labour migration to the Middle East began in earnest. Remittances
have since become an important component of the national economy and of the livelihoods
of many households.
These complex and substantial movements have resulted in profound changes in settlement
patterns, and also in deep socioeconomic and cultural transformations. Smaller urban
centres, such as the ones described in this paper, reflect the growing discrepancy between
changing values and widening economic opportunities on the one hand, and the persistence
of a feudal system of political power often supported by a highly controversial administrative
and political devolution plan, on the other hand.
This study draws upon secondary sources and census reports of the government of
Pakistan. In addition, it draws upon previous work done by the authors, and detailed
interviews which have been carried out for this study. A list of the persons interviewed, along
with excerpts from their interviews, is given in Appendix 1. These excerpts have been
translated from Urdu recordings totalling over 16 hours.

In 1996 he became responsible for looking after the oil tankers of a private individual from his
area. This is what he does now and it has for the first time given him surplus income. He has
invested in a plot and house in a katchi abadi in Karachi. His two sons are now living in the city
and have both gone to high school. They are also in the transport business and have negotiated
informal loans for buying rickshaws which they rent out to people from their own area in the
NWFP, while they work as drivers for private companies. All this is the result of the connections
Abdul developed while working in Karachi.
From 1976 until the time that he got a job that earned him a surplus – 1996 – Abdul could never
have even thought of bringing his family to Karachi. He did not earn enough to rent
accommodation and the type of jobs that he did required odd working hours. Most of the time he
lived in make-shift accommodation near transport and cargo terminals or with co-workers,
sometimes seven to eight men in a room, and even more sharing a toilet. He feels that staying
away from his family and living the way he did was tough and that nobody should be subjected to
such conditions. However, these sacrifices have opened a new world of opportunities for his
immediate family and saved them from a life similar to Abdul’s.
Source: Interview taken by Arif Hasan in Karachi on 13 December 2007

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan has the highest rate of #urbanization in #SouthAsia, with 36.4% of the population living in cities. #UN says 2025 nearly half of the country's inhabitants will be living in cities. Is rapid urbanization making Pakistan's cities less livable?

For developing countries, urban development is synonymous with economic growth and progress. In Pakistan, however, city planning experts say rapid urbanization is starting to cause more harm than good.

Lahore, the capital of Pakistan's Punjab province, is shrouded in plumes of smog from October to February every year as crop burning exacerbates the city's air pollution problem.

The monsoon season this year brought the southern city of Karachi, Pakistan's financial hub, to a standstill as the city experienced its heaviest rainfall in a single spell since 1931 and massive flooding. Its poor waste disposal and drainage systems aggravated the problem of water logging in parts of the city, which is home to roughly 15 million people.

Islamabad, Pakistan's capital, is a "planned city" that came in to being in the 1960s. Over the years, however, many informal settlements and ad hoc developments have worsened housing and traffic woes for the city's residents.

"I couldn't have imagined a few years ago that I would get stuck in traffic but now it is an everyday reality. The authorities keep widening roads as a solution but it's making traffic worse and making this once green city, grey," said Islamabad resident Amir Tariq.

Rather than being sites of development, democratization and opportunity, Pakistan's cities are fast becoming hubs of gross inequality and unlivable for many people, particularly as private economic interests outweigh public goods.


Citizen-led sustainable urban organizations are steadily mushrooming across the country. Mome Saleem, executive director of the Institute of Urbanization, started a campaign called "Reclaim Green Islamabad" in 2015.

"In 2016, we successfully rallied against the cutting of 240 very old trees in Islamabad and even though the trees were eventually cut, it was the first time citizens of Islamabad came out in large numbers to demand a greener, cleaner city," Saleem told DW.

The Orangi Pilot Project's low-cost sanitation, health, housing and microcredit programs empowered residents to make this slum much more livable for themselves as it was a squatter community, and did not qualify for government aid due to their "unofficial" status.

Shehri, meaning "citizen," is an organization that's successful in shaping dialogue and organizing resistance to various government policies and actions that are detrimental to urban prosperity.

As urbanization in Pakistan increases rapidly, Saleem underlined, problems are growing, but so is citizen action against them. So there's still hope to turn around Pakistan's urbanization from problem to progress.

Riaz Haq said...

Mismanagement complicates Pakistan’s long recovery from deadly floods

Fred de Sam Lazaro:

For decades, Karachi has been a magnet for migrants from conflict and climate disasters. Decades ago, it ran out of room. Dotting the city's outskirts are clusters of ramshackle dwellings. These have stood since the 2010 floods.

Less than a mile away, crammed under high-voltage power lines, a 2022 wave of settlers.

Sikhandar Chandio, Flood Victim (through translator):

When the water came, it came all of a sudden at night. We just managed to get out with whatever we could and had to abandon our animals.

Fred de Sam Lazaro:

Sikhandar Chandio and his wife, Sughra, were sharecropper farmers. They escaped with their four children, and were able to save one cow. They journeyed here on foot, which took a week.

Sughra Chandio, Flood Victim (through translator):

Everything was underwater. There were no facilities. There was no help, no food.

Fred de Sam Lazaro:

Today, they rely on a patchwork of charities, everyone overwhelmed by what U.N. officials describe as one of the worst climate disasters on record, slamming a country that contributes less than 1 percent of the world's greenhouse gases.

Shehbaz Sharif, Pakistani Prime Minister (through translator):

We have mobilized every available resource towards the national relief effort, and repurposed all budget priorities.

Fred de Sam Lazaro:

Pakistan took the lead at this year's COP 27 climate conference, helping to secure agreement on a loss and damage fund to help developing nations cope.

Just how those funds, if they appear, will be used is a concern.

Kaiser Bengali, Former Adviser, Pakistan Ministry of Planning and Development: But there is a fair amount of manmade responsibility for these floods, and politics plays a big part.

Fred de Sam Lazaro:

Kaiser Bengali was a government adviser during the 2010 floods, Pakistan's worst until 2022.

Kaiser Bengali:

I think it is also important to see how this fund will be utilized and how it will be implemented and whether the sociopolitical structures and the planning structures that need to be changed, made more effective happens.

Fred de Sam Lazaro:

The 1,800-mile-long Indus River, lifeblood of Pakistan's agriculture sector, has been extensively engineered with dams and canals, beginning during British colonial times and ramping up in the 1960s with loans and advisers from international lending agencies.

Has it been, in terms of food production, a reasonably good investment?

Kaiser Bengali:

Certainly. Lands where not even a blade of grass grew now produce two crops a year. It's just that one has to manage this better.

Ahmed Kamal, Chairman, Pakistan Federal Flood Commission:

Governance structure is not good.