web analytics

Urban Violence: a Cost To Economy

There is a growing concern amongst policy makers, practitioners, social scientists and various factions of civil society with regards to urban violence that has literally distorted the social fabric of the financial and economic hubs of the country. The urban violence itself has many folds and the most aggravated bend has been observed in the cities of Pakistan in recent years. In 4 provincial capitals, Karachi, Lahore, Quetta, Peshawar ethno-political and sectarian partitions are expanding as lust for power and access to resources intensifies. Violence in these cities is patent with geographical disturbances, ethnic divisions and socio-economic tensions, but it is largely the product of indecorous security policies, mistreated police and judicial reforms, and poor governance. The prime focus of the article is on Karachi as it generates more than 60% of Country’s total revenue.

The industrial and financial hub of the country, often called a ‘mini-Pakistan’, with a diverse ethnic and cultural population of around 20 million, Karachi has become the most vulnerable place where valuable lives are being ruined as a result of terrorism activities. Primarily, the purpose of enlightening the situation of mega city in the study is to present the fact that the economic growth of the country is vastly dependent on the stability of Karachi. In the same manner the slight disruption in the city has a negative magnifying effect on the economy of Pakistan. As the city represents the face of Pakistan I in this study also examine the various stages from where the city has gone through. The prevailing unrest of the country has become a major obstacle in development of new metropolitan cities that can share the burden of Karachi. Gawadar, a beautiful city of Baluchistan with a deep sea port that was completed in early 2007 and is not operational till date. The non-development of urban centers in Pakistan has made Karachi to face number of problems that collectively instigates violence activities and results in stagnancy of economic activities.

When Pakistan was confirmed as a separate country in 1947, Karachi was chosen as the Capital of Pakistan. During this period, the city offered shelter to a huge influx of migrants that came from the Indian province. In 1960. The capital of Pakistan was first moved to Rawalpindi and then to Islamabad. Demographia World Urban Areas Report in its 9th Annual Edition of 2013 states that one of the 3 largest cities in the world, and the largest one in Pakistan, Karachi have a multi-ethnic population of 17 million people. Karachi is the world’s 7th largest metropolis with an estimated population of nearly 21 million inhabitants packed in an area of 310 square miles, making it the 10th densest large city in the world. Demographia authors acknowledge that their estimate of Karachi’s “population is lower than other estimates (such as the United Nations), which include metropolitan area population not within the continuously developed urban area”. In addition to the normal migration patterns witnessed in the past, Karachi has also seen major influx of waves of refugees escaping conflict zones like FATA and Swat and many people displaced by natural disasters like the 2005 earthquake and 2010 floods. Karachi itself has now become a major conflict zone with the growth of ethnic gangs supported by political bosses, and the arrival of the Taliban fighters along with the refugees from FATA and Swat. Poor governance of the city has further exacerbated the situation of Karachi’s citizens. Beside all those facts the socio-economic and demography of the city cannot be ignored that has provided sound bases for the city’s unrest and terrorist activities. The phenomenal growth in the population of Karachi has many chapters, it was the landed space of millions of Urdu-Speaking immigrants (Muhajir literally “migrant” in Urdu) who came from India and constitutes amongst the largest group of citizens living in Karachi (48.52% according to the census of 1998).Dominating the ruling party, the Pakistan Muslim League, and over-represented in the powerful bureaucracy, the mohajirs became the city’s governing elite, marginalizing the native Sindhis. As the mohajir influx continued, according to the 1951 census, the population changed to 50 per cent mohajir, per cent Sindhi, a “demographic convulsion” that fueled Sindhi alienation. Responding to its predominately Sindhi constituents, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s PPP government introduced quotas in the 1970s for the under-represented Sindhis in government jobs and higher educational institutions. The PPP’s policies were deeply resented by its mohajir opponents, and the ethno-political divide widened further, with political and security ramifications still felt more than 40 years later. Subsequent waves of internal migration of Pashtun and Punjabi workers and the influx of Afghan refugees and illegal immigrants swelled the population further. (Crisis Group Asia report:2014)

Beside this; the sectarian division in the city has also made the life of its citizens a living hell. The banned outfits in the name of religion/sect/school of thought have brutally attacked their opponents. The hatred literature and speeches from corners have maligned the minds of many. The summary of sectarian related terrorist attacks published in Daily dawn is given below:

Baluchistan 33 278 499
Sindh 132 215 319
Punjab 17 32 29
KPK/FATA 26 133 348
Total 208 658 1195

On 4 September 2013, the federal cabinet decided on a series of measures to enforce law and order in Karachi. A targeted operation, led by the paramilitary Rangers but ostensibly under Sindh government supervision, would target a range of violent groups, including those linked to political parties, sectarian organizations and criminal gangs. Up to date the Operation and violence both are still in progress. There is a strong need to introduce and implement the concept of community intelligence and policing that can not only be an effective tool against criminals but can also be a device of assistance for the natives.

To provide basic security to the citizens is the prime responsibility of the state. But when the state is institutionally weak then basic amenities of life are mis-administered. Unfortunately in Pakistan there is a feeling in the minorities; whether it is ethnic minority or religious minority of being marginalized for the political gains. The long periods of socio-economic deprivation of masses, suspension of state institutions, collapse of bureaucratic and administrative machinery and use of sectarian and ethnic discard has brought our homeland on verge of default. The deteriorating security problem has terrified the investors. FDI cannot be encouraged in a falling law and order situation. The situation will not improve until the government takes extraordinary steps to security and energy crises. It’s hard to lure investment unless and until investors are given lucrative incentives for preferring Pakistan over other countries.

Facebook Comments