Karachi: A case study of an unsustainable city (Just replace Karachi by Mumbai in the article..)

As I was reading this piece by Jawaid Bokhari of Dawn, one was struck by the amazing similarity in State of the two financial capitals of Pakistan and India.

So much so, one could just replace Karachi with Mumbai in the article, and same piece could as it is apply to Mumbai woes as well:

A STRATEGIC location and an enlarged urban economy attract firms and households, and put mounting pressure on social and physical structure, which, if not addressed promptly, creates unsustainable cities.

The more developed a city, the more sophisticated and expanded an infrastructure network it needs to maintain its growth momentum.

Urban economists, however, lament the low level of current investment for development of civic facilities in Karachi which hosts the country’s premier financial and capital markets and is a major commercial and industrial hub and a port city.

It is the top contributor to the national exchequer with a share of 40pc in the sales tax revenue on domestic goods. Such revenue contributions have raised the city’s expectation of a much higher level of development spending.

Though still the country’s largest and most developed city, Karachi is losing some of its lustre. As SECP records show, an increasing number of foreign firms now prefer to be incorporated in Islamabad owing to the security situation (now improving), Karachi’s poor infrastructure and the competing attraction of a much bigger and faster growing Punjab market.

Not too long ago Karachi was the first choice for both foreign and domestic investors.

Karachi suffers from a huge social deficit and civic facilities and also offers a sharp contrast of immense wealth — though with an expanding middle class — with relatively stark poverty.

All social indicators show underperformance owing to lack of proper planning, ad hoc decision-making, slow project implementation and for want of enough local finance.

Infact there are these occasional articles which suggest how Delhi or NCR Delhi is becoming the preferred region for investments. So one could replace Islamabad with Delhi too!

As both India and Pakistan debate in UN General Assembly and accuse each other over who has a better human rights record, in terms of urban development, record is pretty similar.

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