Orphan City

The population of Karachi has ballooned to over 30 million but the city lacks basic amenities and continues to be treated like an orphan.

By Nabil Ansari | March 2021


Being a city, according to some estimates, of over 30 million souls, Karachi has always been the commercial hub of Pakistan. It accounts for more than 95 per cent of Pakistan's foreign trade, 30 per cent of its industrial production, and 60 per cent of the total revenue.

Despite the fact that Karachi generates such huge revenue for the country, most of its residents have so far failed to enjoy the quality of life they deserve, given the prime role the city plays in the economy of Pakistan. Why is there absence of a political will to fix the city’s problems?

A city like Karachi cannot be ruled the way it is being administered for the past seven decades. Shifting the federal capital from Karachi to Islamabad in the 1960s was perhaps the biggest political injustice to Karachi and the people of Sindh.

One solution that has been floated lately is that Karachi be made a federally-administered territory under Article 149 of the Constitution of Pakistan. Would this be the solution that Karachiites have been dreaming of?

Why was the status of Karachi changed? The city was declared the capital of Pakistan by the Quaid-e-Azam in 1947. What circumstances led to a shifting of the capital in the 60s?

Islamabad was conceived in 1959 by President Ayub Khan; the development of the new city took place in the early 60s. The capital was not moved directly from Karachi to Islamabad. It was first shifted temporarily to Rawalpindi in the early sixties and then to Islamabad when the essential development work was completed there in 1966-67.

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