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  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: August 2009

19 - Urbanization and Environmental Challenges in Pakistan



In 2004, Pakistan continued its inexorable ascent on the world demographic charts when it overtook Russia and became the world's sixth largest nation after China, India, the United States, Brazil, and Indonesia. In common with most other developing nations, Pakistan is entering the high-growth phase of urban transition with most of the population increase occurring in the urban areas. These demographic trends present the policymakers and citizens of the country with both a significant opportunity and a serious peril.

The outsized contribution of cities to national economies made possible by the capital investment in infrastructure and the concentration of a diversified and skilled labor pool is a well-documented phenomenon. As in many other parts of the world, the urban setting in Pakistan continues to be the choice of destination for both traditional manufacturing industries, which are highly sensitive to costs of labor, land, and infrastructure, and the knowledge-intensive industries and service sector firms reliant on an educated workforce and sophisticated information technology services.

In addition to the generation of national wealth and contribution to fiscal revenues, the built environments of cities are often showcases of a country's cultural heritage and the civic pride of its citizens. Because of its rich history, which has seen the ebb and flow of important civilizations, Pakistan is well endowed with cultural heritage assets.