Rural Pakistan’s Fascination with Urbanization
There was a time, not long ago, when the country life was the dream for many. The ideology resonated with the country folk and even the residents of the privileged, more developed cities. This thought process has vanished with time.
Villages offer the simple life. The inhabitants enjoy lush greenery and/or hilly backgrounds as a backyard to their houses every day. The noise pollution is minimal and the air is crisp. The ingredients are unadulterated and nutritious. This is a hackneyed myth that has been advertised for too long. The country side that was the home to all this; is not the same anymore. There’s electricity in most areas, homes are not made of mud anymore. Farmers no longer have to sow seeds with hands. Even the milk producing mammals have been “modernized” by injections that make them lactate more.
All that aside, villagers are still flocking towards cities. There are several reasons for it. According to them, cities have better opportunities, better infrastructure, better facilities and better education. The immigration from within is one of the root causes for urbanization. In addition to immigration, political developments have also contributed to urbanization.
Conflict has also played its part. For decades, people have been fleeing war-torn rural regions -particularly the tribal areas – to seek the relative safety of cities such as Peshawar, Quetta, and in recent years Karachi.
Pakistan is urbanizing at an astonishing rate of 3% per year. This is the fastest rate in South Asia where the conditions, economic or political more or less are the same. As per the estimates of The UNPD, by 2025, nearly half the country’s population will live in urban areas. Now if we compare the numbers to two decades ago, the ratio was 70:30 in favor of rural population. This fascination with the urban lifestyle is often misled and can cause serious financial misfortunes.
Urban Housing Troubles
The State Bank of Pakistan has estimated that across all major cities, urban housing was approximately 4.4 million units short of demand in 2015. If current trends continue, Pakistan’s five largest cities will account for 78 percent of the total housing shortage by 2035. The houses that are available are of low quality and while the real estate business is booming due to this, the new societies and housing schemes are not for the poor. This poses a real threat to the current infrastructures of the urban areas and their suburbs. Other problems, such as water, sanitation, health, transportation, education and land management all require grave attention.
To sum it all up, the officials need to control this trend of urbanization for the survival of our economy as Pakistani cities cannot bear the influx with their current situation. This fascination of rural Pakistan with the cities is fathomable but not practical.