KARACHI, the largest city of Pakistan and having two ports, which contributes more than 20 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and provides 60pc of its revenue, is again at the receiving end for several reasons.
As some political leaders have rightly highlighted, the approved population figure of 16 million on the basis of the 2017 census is a travesty, to say the least. Pure and simple statistics indicate that even if we assume the population figure of 9.30 million, which was provisionally declared after the 1998 census, Karachi’s population should have been at least around 23.50 million in the year 2017 if we assume a constant annual population growth rate of 5pc for 19 years, which is still a conservative estimate.
Most experts are certain that Karachi’s annual population growth rate has been hovering around 6pc for the last many years as tens of thousands of people from all parts of Pakistan flock to this city on a daily basis in search of employment.
The decision to shift the PIA head offices to Islamabad is another case in point whereas there is no talk of loss-making state enterprises of other cities being shifted to either Islamabad or Rawalpindi. Although Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport still handles the largest volume of air traffic in Pakistan, it has been conveniently kept away from hosting British Airways and Virgin Atlantic flights.
Moreover, the local population of this hapless megapolis is not being preferred for employment in government agencies functioning in this very city, and people from other provinces are being selected blatantly without merit and open competition.
To go back in history, Karachi’s troubles commenced when its importance started declining after the formation of One Unit in 1955. Ultimately, it was stripped of its capital city status, and soon thereafter, headquarters of government and private institutions started shifting. The less said about the ethnic and linguistic terrorism which started in the 1980s, the better.
As a Pakistani, in general, and a Karachi resident, in particular, my most urgent appeal will be to city legislators to have these gross injustices stopped or reversed, and to take all the relevant stakeholders on board to restore the glory and fame of the Quaid’s city, obviously without any prejudice to the development and upkeep of other parts of our homeland.
Umar M. Makhdumi
Published in Dawn, February 11th, 2021