ISLAMABAD: The population in the country’s 10 largest cities has grown by 71 per cent over the past 19 years, and currently stands at 41 million, as compared to the 24 million who lived there in 1998.
The population of these cities accounts for 20pc of the country’s population, according to provisional census figures released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics on Monday.
With 14.9m people, Karachi retained the title of the most populated city, registering an increase of over 57pc from the 9.4m people that lived there in 1998.
Lahore comes in at a close second, with 11.13m residents in 2017 — a more than 75pc increase from the 6.3m figure from 1998.
Faisalabad moves into third place after Karachi, Lahore; populations of Peshawar, Islamabad doubled over past 19 years
The industrial town of Faisalabad emerged as the third most populous urban centre in the country, with a population of around 3.2m. This is nearly a 60pc increase from the just over 2m people that lived there in 1998.
Rawalpindi, the garrison city, ranks fourth in the top ten with 2.1m residents in 2017, compared to 1.4m in 1998, registering an increase of around 60pc.
Gujranwala emerged as the fifth most populated city in the country, housing 2.03m people as opposed to 1.1m in 1998.
The population of Peshawar, the largest city in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, doubled over the past 19 years, reaching nearly 2m in 2017.
Multan, the fifth largest city in Punjab and the only major urban centre in south Punjab, currently houses 1.9m people, compared to the 1.2m who lived there in 1998.
Hyderabad, the second major metropolis in Sindh, housed 1.7m people, an increase of over 48pc from the previous census, which was 1.2m in 1998
The capital city, Islamabad, occupies the penultimate spot in the top ten, with a population of just over 1m people, nearly double from the 529,180 people who lived here in 1998.
The population of Quetta, the only major metropolis in Balochistan, registered a population increase of 77pc, going from 565,137 residents in 1998 to just over 1m in 2017.
The sparsely-populated province of Balochistan, with its sprawling administrative divisions, saw the population of Quetta division — which includes Chagai, Pishin, Nushki and Killa Abdullah districts as well — emerged as the most populous division with 4.1m residents as against 1.7m, showing an increase of 144pc.
Kalat, which includes Mustung, Awaran, Kharan, Khuzdar and Lasbela, was the second most populated division in the province with a population of 2.5m as against 1.4m in 1998, showing an increase of 73.8pc.
The population of Nasirabad division rose from 988,109 to 1.60m; Makran division from 832,753 to 1.5m; Zhob division from 956,443 to 1.5m; while the population of Sibi division more than doubled from 630,901 in 1998 to just over 1m.
In KP, the Malakand division — which contains Buner, Chitral, Shangla, Swat, lower and upper Dir — emerged as the most populous division, witnessing a 76.3pc increase from 4.3m to 7.5m.
Peshawar division was a close second, with its 7.4m against 3.9m in 2008, showing an increase of 88.7pc.
Hazara, which includes Manshera, Battagram, Abbotabad, Kohistan and Haripur, has a population of 5.3m, a 52pc increase from the 3.5m in 1998.
Mardan division has a population of nearly 4m, up nearly 61pc from the 2.5m in 1998; Kohat division rose from 1.3m to 2.2m people; the Bannu population swelled to just over 2m from 1.1m in 1998; while in Dera Ismail Khan, the population was declared to be 2m in 2017, against 1.1m in the previous census.
The sprawling Karachi division, with its six districts, registered a total population of over 16m, a 63pc rise from the nearly 10m people that lived there in 1998.
The second biggest concentration of population was in Hyderabad division, which housed 10.6m in 2017 as against 6.8m in 1998, an increase of 47pc.
Larkana’s population rose from 4.2m to 6.2m; Sukkur division expanded from 3.4m to 5.5m; Shaheed Benazirabad division (formerly Nawabshah) went from 3.5m to 5.3m; while Mirpurkhas went from 2.6m to 4.2m in 19 years.
Unsurprisingly, Lahore division emerged as the most populous in the country’s largest province, with 19.4m people living in its four districts in 2017, a growth of 61pc from the 12m recorded in 1998.
Gujranwala division, which includes Gujrat, Hafizabad, Mandi Bahauddin, Narowal and Sialkot, has a population of 16m, 41pc increase from the 11.4m in 1998.
Faisalabad division, meanwhile, has a population of 14m, a 43pc increase from the 9.9m people who lived in Faisalabad, Jhang, Chiniot and Toba Tek Singh in 1998.
In south Punjab, Multan, Bahawalpur and Dera Ghazi Khan divisions registered growth of 45pc, 50pc and 69pc, respectively. Multan’s population stood at 12.3m in 2017 against 8.4m in 1998; Bahawalpur had 11.5m people as against 7.6m; while DG Khan’s population rose from 6.5m to 11m in 19 years.
Rawalpindi division saw 50pc growth from 6.7m to 10m; Sargodha went from 5.7m to 8.2m; while Sahiwal was the lowest populated division, with just 7.4m in 2017, up from 5.4m in 1998.
Published in Dawn, August 29th, 2017