The research conducted by the Karachi Research Chair
will be focusing on (but not limited to) the following issues:

Demographically speaking the Karachi of yesterday has completely changed in its contemporary setup. At the time of independence Karachi was a thinly populated city with different socio-cultural, economic, and religious groups. It became Capital of Pakistan and so both external and internal migrants took refuge and settled in the city of Karachi. It attracted internal migration due to its rapid urban development movement. Moreover, fall of Dhaka in 1971, further increased its population to a higher degree. Consequently, Karachi became a mega city of 20 million people. Naturally the rise of population created unlimited social, cultural, economic, administrative, and political issues which ultimately made Karachi to be considered as one of the dangerous cities of the world by the media with increasing criminal activities in day to day life of the people.

Migration is a natural process in human development. Population migrates mainly due to economic need. Rise of industrialization in the twentieth century, particularly in the developing societies, led to urbanization which ultimately caught the eyes of villages and small town’s population encouraging them to move to emerging cities for economic benefit and better living. Karachi became a central point of attraction due to this dimension of economic opportunities, turning it into a metropolis with people pouring in from all corners of the country, rural as well as urban. The metropolis filled with a cluster of cultural pluralism increasing its population to over 20 million souls.

Economy is the backbone of any nation’s welfare and development. The economy of Pakistan remained stagnant from the beginning of country’s independence. However, during Ayub’s regime the economy showed some strength but again saw a decline in its after his growth. There have been multiple causes for the stagnation of economy in Pakistan which have been analyzed by the economists inside and outside the country. Karachi being a commercial capital of the country has a significant position to be looked at by the economists for searching out the economic development process. Hence both formal and informal aspects of economy need to be studied with particular reference to Karachi.

Research Focus

  • Demographics
  • Rural-Urban Migration
  • Economy
  • Education
  • Healthcare
  • Urban-Development
  • Media
  • Culture and Ethnicity
  • Civil Administration

Since the inception of Pakistan education has remained an issue for concern. Education has always been put behind as a part of social and economic development in history of Pakistan. Consequently, Pakistan remains with the high levels of illiteracy not only due to absence of financial support but also many at times due to instable and undefined education system. This neglect in government policy led to unsolved problems of education constantly. It has only been recent that the establishment of private institutions in higher education has created opportunities for younger generation to fulfill their educational needs.

Like education, healthcare is another important sector to look into for human development. With the rise of Karachi into a cosmopolitan mega city, these has been establishment of large number of hospitals and medical centers. The city has also established many medical collages and institutes in both public and private sectors which provide well-established growth and opportunities for medical education for our youth, particularly with reference to Karachi. The foremost significant foundation of medical treatment in education established in Karachi is the Aga Khan University and its medical hospital which stands as one of the top medical care centers in Asia.

With the rise of industrial growth and establishment, cities lead to decline in agriculture sector, because the industrial development opens opportunity of employment and hence rural migration takes place to urban areas. Population movement from rural to urban areas leads to urban development. This happened with Karachi when Karachi put its feet into industrial development after a very few years of Pakistan’s independence. Such situation historically made Karachi a mega city, particularly after independence of Pakistan. Dawoods, Valikas, Isfahanis, Admajees and Habibs are few examples of Urbandevelopment to be mentioned with this economic development of Karachi and so Pakistan in its early stage of history.

The significance of media was almost unknown in Karachi at the time of independence. Earlier there were only two news major papers Dawn in English and Jung in Urdu or the radio, controlled by the government. Such insignificant media system continued in the country up to the period of Ayub Khan who also controlled it in his military regime. The turning point in media emerged with the arrival of Z.A Bhutto who became a public spokesman for supporting a direct democracy system in the country. Later with the rise of electronic media that included television and computers largely opened eyes of thickly populated mega city of Karachi. Today, media plays a forefront role in the development process not only of Karachi but the whole nation.

Pakistan is a society of pluralistic culture. It is comprised of ethno regional cultural value-system. Therefore cultural diversity and multiculturalism play a significant role in Pakistan’s socio-cultural, political, and economic development. Karachi being a commercial center and developing into a mega metropolis rapidly filled a large number of people through external/internal migration throughout Pakistan’s history. A large population migrated from all corners of India at the time of partition and again at the time of fall of Dhaka. On the other hand, Karachi also received immigrants through internal migration from all parts of the country. Consequently, it became a mini Pakistan having combination of ethnic, regional, and linguistic groups of people and became a city of multicultural society. This ultimately brought Karachi into identity and diversity crises.

Administratively at the time of independence Karachi was Capital of Pakistan and remained an Administrative Division with Karachi city as a District. With the passage of time when Karachi grew in area and population, the administrative responsibility expanded rapidly. New settlements and colonies developed into sub-urban areas of the city leading to making Karachi a mega metropolis. Consequently, the old Karachi Municipal Committee became Municipal Corporation and turned into a Metropolis Corporation of Karachi. The city now itself is divided into 18 towns under the local government system with four districts having one separate Division of Karachi. In short Karachi’s administration is a separate, independent administration to take care of the mega city of Karachi only.

Envisioning the Future of Pakistan

Youth's demands for governance reforms.