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Asif Khan, 14, center, sells shoes in a market in Islamabad. – File photo by AP
Asif Khan, 14, center, sells shoes in a market in Islamabad. – File photo by AP

The new electoral rolls displayed by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) show a surge of 100,000 voters in a span of five years in the federal capital. This is despite the fact that a large number of multiple entries – voters listed in more than one spot in the country – have been scrapped.

According to the officials, the reason behind the increase is the influx of settlers from other parts of the country, especially Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).  Migration has also been observed from Balochistan and Punjab.

Officials of the ECP told Dawn that for the first time, multiple entries have been struck off and registered voters have only one vote in one constituency. “Earlier, some voters were registered in more than 10 places,” admitted an official of the ECP.

Even though the government did not conduct a national census in 2010, a housing survey conducted in Islamabad revealed that the capital’s population has more than doubled since the last census in 1998.

The housing survey, conducted by the Census Department in collaboration with the Federal Directorate of Education and the local administration in April 2011, estimated the capital’s current population at around 2 million, while the 1998 census put it at 800,000.

The housing survey also revealed that the number of houses has risen sharply.

“A hundred per cent increase has been seen in localities on the outskirts of the capital like Bhara Kahu, Banigala, Tarnol, Golra, and sectors I-11, G-11, G-12, F-12 and H-13,” said an official of the local administration.

According to Deputy Commissioner Islamabad Amir Ali Ahmed, “there are two types of settlers who are coming into Islamabad: first, those who are fed up with unprecedented terrorism and security concerns in the KP, tribal areas and Balochistan, and second, a big labour force coming from central Punjab to get some work.”

He said there was no bar on migration of citizens to Islamabad. “Actually every Pakistani has a right to live anywhere in the country without any restriction,” he stated.

“Many of our friends who have their business in Peshawar or other parts of KP have sent their families to Islamabad so that they can live in a comparatively peaceful environment,” added Munawar Mughal, a senior office-bearer of the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) who had fought elections for the National Assembly seat in Islamabad.

A large number of people (non-Baloch) have migrated from Balochistan after the recent incidents of killings, arson attacks and kidnappings-for-ransom.

“We preferred to leave Quetta and settle in Islamabad because of threats that Punjabis face from the terrorists there,” said an immigrant Sarwar Mehdi.

Affluent migrants are busy purchasing houses in upscale localities whereas those from the lower income group are settling down in slums and suburbs of the capital.

In fact, locals of Turnol and Sangjani have complained about the influx of Afghan nationals and militants and criminals from KP (Hazara Division) many of whom have purchased properties and houses in these areas.

Some residents believe that they have also penetrated into urban areas of Islamabad and contributed to the rise in crime rate.

Similar complaints have also been coming from other parts of the federal capital such as Bara Kahu, I J Principal Road and Rawat, but there is no way to verify it independently.

Comments (9) Closed

Junaid Aug 13, 2012 10:03am
No one is paying attention to collecting garbage in the streets of Islamabad. If the trend continues the city will look like other cities of country soon!
sairakhushi Aug 07, 2012 11:52am
Yeah it sounds like "Just two millions" but it is Islamabad a small but well-planned city. Its not one of the biggest cities of the country like Karachi or Lahore or Faisalabad.
Saira Fazal Aug 07, 2012 11:44am
Although 2 million is not too much but yet it is as Islamabad is not a big city like Karachi or Lahore or Faisalabad
DMDiL Aug 07, 2012 04:20am
just two million? really? that's nothing having the fact it's a capital of Pakistan.. so knowing 2 million out of 160+million is nothing..
osama Aug 07, 2012 02:38pm
2 million is rapid rise if you compare the city is some 40 years or 50 years old. and moroever if u check it's population in last cencus it's much rise. not a good sign for country recources are geting lower and population is rising year to year
Aziz Aug 07, 2012 02:47pm
I am afraid that this influx of migrants may hit the infrastructure in Islamabad at heart. A city is doomed if the infrastructure is not maintained to sustain its growing population. People can settle in the out skirts of the city to save money on real estate. However, it is government's duty to conduct surveys to ensure those people have good transportation system to come to main Islamabad and work. Also, they need to watch out for electricity, water, gas supplies. Last but the most important issue is the availability of good schools. Someone needs to built good schools to cater to these new migrants...any by good schools, I do not mean madressas to fuel hatered
Javed Yusufzai Aug 07, 2012 03:29pm
please keep Islamabad peaceful and quiet. Why govt. doesnt just focus on development in rural areas and why do we have to keep having these afghan refugees in our country? Kick out all illegals from Pakistan.
teekay Aug 08, 2012 01:39am
I miss the old Islamabad. The population has gone up by 1 million in only more than a decade. Its the end of Islamabad as we know it. What makes me feel better is Peshawar is 3.6 million, Lahore 11 million and Karachi 13 million. In terms of size Islamabad is also expanding very fast. Hate the increasing traffic in Islamabad which used to be non existent.
Saeed Aug 12, 2012 12:26pm
Why people focus to produce less children .