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Moving Away from Traditional Urban Centres to Creating New Cities


Pakistan is not a geographically large country as compared to some of its neighbours, and one can count all its major urban centres on his fingertips. Most present day established cities in Pakistan have historically and traditionally been important urban centres for different ethnic groups over the centuries. Among these Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Quetta, and Multan are some of the oldest cities in this region, among which some are the most populated as well. An unchecked surge in population numbers in Pakistan coupled with large population shifts from rural to urban areas has put the infrastructure and natural resources of established cities under immense stress. Under these circumstances the Pakistani government can mitigate the problem of escalating rural to urban migration by building new urban centers in different parts of the country.

Heavily Populated Cities in Pakistan

In terms of Pakistan, the largest cities by population have been bearing the brunt of a growing population for many years at a stretch, even as most of these urban centres lack the infrastructure to sustain a constantly growing population. To get a rough idea about population density in large cities of the country, the worldatlas.com statistics regarding population status of major cities in Pakistan are as follows:

The financial capital of Pakistan, Karachi, has an estimated population of 11, 624, 219 people. Lahore, the provincial capital of Punjab has an estimated population of 6, 310, 888 people. Meanwhile, the industrious city of Faisalabad has a population of 2, 506,595. Between the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad, the former has an average population of 1, 743, 101 people. Population estimates for other important cities of Pakistan are Multan (1, 437, 230), Hyderabad (1, 386, 330), Gujranwala (1, 384, 471), Peshawar (1, 218, 773), and Quetta (733, 675).

Looking at the population demographic of the existing urban centres of Pakistan, it is not hard to realise that the swelling population inside cities is taking a big toll on the infrastructure and other basic facilities of these concrete jungles. Consider the example of Karachi, Pakistan’s biggest and most populated metropolis. Presently the port city is finding it hard to address its growing urban planning challenges due to continuous migration from all parts of the country. Experts at Pakistan’s biggest property portal Zameen.com believe that the situation calls for the attention of policy makers and urban planners to devise new ways in which to find solutions to the growing problem of overpopulation in major cities.

One reasonable approach for the government to addressing this issue can be the development of lesser developed small towns into cities of the future, mostly around the regions from where the trend of rural to urban migration is highest. Providing people with economic incentives near their home ground can prove useful in controlling the trends of internal migration from poor areas to the more affluent ones.

Low Population Cities and Their Potential for Growth

According to worldatlas.com data, some small Pakistani cities which has the potential to be converted into major future cities are as follows:

Sialkot has a population of 477, 396, Gujrat (301, 506), Mardan (300, 424), Swabi (97, 363), Charsadda (95, 319), Kasur (290, 643), Sahiwal (235, 695), Jhelum (164, 080), Kohat (151, 427), Bahawalnagar (126, 617), Attock City (85, 479), and Abbottabad (120, 000) along with numerous other small towns situated in Pakistan.

Reasons for Developing Lesser Developed Areas

To start with, Pakistan is a developing country which has not yet reached the pinnacle of development as compared to developed nations of the world. Therefore the country cannot afford to burden the infrastructure and resources of already established cities of the country. It also means that the country still has a lot of space to experiment with urban planning and find localised solutions to the issue of transforming large towns into cities. Some of the lesser developed urban spaces with small pockets of the population hold great promise for organised development coupled with modern city planning techniques and architecture.

New urban spaces in areas which are well-connected with the rest of the country through roads and transport facilities will provide an incentive to locals to make the most of the economic options available near home. It might stop a large number of migrants to large cities. This way cities would not have to bear the burden of a growing population that can otherwise spell disaster for limited resources available to existing populations living in these areas.

Other than this, the government can also decrease the impact of the human footprint on the ecology of established cities in Pakistan by working on developing new cities in all provinces of the country. This can be done by carrying out a survey to point out places which have the potential for maximum growth in a limited time.

The best outcome that can come out of developing towns into cities of varying sizes in Pakistan is that some resources will be directed towards areas which were previously missing from the government’s development agenda. By doing so, fresh economic and educational opportunities will rise in semi-developed areas of Pakistan, thus, leading towards a contented population with access to modern living facilities per their constitutional right.