The impending migration
By: Arif Hasan
IF the reported preliminary results of the 2011 Pakistan population census are to be believed, Karachi is the fastest-growing city in the world, followed by Mexico City.
Its population increased from 9.8 million in 1998 to 21.2 million in 2012. No other city in history has ever experienced so large a population increase in so short a time.
Although much of this increase is attributed to disaster- and conflict-related migration (mainly from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), anecdotal evidence from 13 villages in Sindh and southern Punjab suggests that a very large migration for other reasons is taking place to Karachi and, to a lesser extent, the smaller regional centres.
This evidence is supported by interviews of transporters and mandi operators from the small and intermediate towns of Sindh and by observation and conversations with recent Sindhi-speaking migrants in Karachi.
There are two main interconnected reasons for this migration. One is the weakening of the moral authority of feudal control on the rural areas of Sindh and southern Punjab which has made physical and social mobility possible.
The second is the increasing need for cash that the rural economy cannot provide to the poorer sections of the population. The first to migrate are the artisans since their skills are more in demand in the expanding urban centres (mainly Karachi) than in the rural areas.