Illustration by Areeshah Qureshi

The enumeration of a nation gives us subtleties of its populace structure, financial prosperity and the states of its human settlements. Without anyone else, the registration figures don’t lay out patterns — that must be finished by contrasting past statistics figures and the ongoing ones. Notwithstanding, to comprehend these measurements in the bigger setting, contrasting them and insights of a city of a comparative significance and size is essential.

In this article, we analyze the aftereffects of the 1981, 1998 and 2017 censuses and attempt to decide how Karachi has fared over the long haul. For specific classifications, we have contrasted Karachi’s insights with those of Lahore and, for proficiency, instructive accomplishment and conjugal rates, we have likewise contrasted them with those of Delhi. Utilizing measurements from the populace censuses of Karachi, Lahore and Delhi, we then, at that point, consider the primary discoveries of our work.


Between the 1981 and 1998 enumeration, the number of inhabitants in Karachi expanded from 5,437,984 to 9,856,318. This implies a typical increment of 3.56 percent (or 259,902 people) each year. Somewhere in the range of 1998 and 2017, then again, Karachi’s populace expanded by 6,168,576 to 16,024,894 or at a normal of 2.59 percent (324,661.89 people) each year. The city’s thickness likewise expanded from 2,794.53 people per square kilometer to 4,543.49 people per square kilometer in the intercensal period, making serious natural issues.

It’s implied that these figures make Karachi the biggest and, in populace terms, the quickest developing city in the country. Be that as it may, Karachi is additionally special in alternate ways. One, it is the main spot in Pakistan where nearby and common pioneers and residents have scrutinized the statistics results and demanded that Karachi’s populace is over 25 million. Trustworthiness is loaned to this by the figure cited in NewGeography.com, a definitive association that screens the populace development of urban communities all over the planet, which assessed Karachi’s populace at 22.8 million as of April 2016.

City planning across the world relies heavily on census data

and estimates of the population the city is being planned for.

What does the census tell us about Karachi,

the largest and fastest-growing city in the country?

And how has the population, and the city, evolved over the years?

Among political circles, the justification for not giving Karachi’s legitimate populace in the evaluation is accepted to be the upkeep of a political the norm in the league. Assuming Karachi’s populace is taken at 20 or 25 million, its seats in both the commonplace and the National Assembly will increment, thus will Sindh’s portion in the National Finance Commission (NFC). Sindh’s lawmakers, particularly those from Karachi, consider this to be a trick against the city and the territory.

The other motivation behind why Karachi is special is that 59.94 percent of Sindh’s metropolitan populace lives in the city. Interestingly, Lahore, Pakistan’s second biggest city, contains just 27.42 percent of Punjab’s metropolitan populace. Peshawar and Quetta contain just 34.34 percent and 29.34 percent of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan’s metropolitan populaces, individually.

That’s what another significant component is, somewhere in the range of 1998 and 2017, the populace expansion in Karachi (6,168,576 people) alone was more than the complete consolidated expansion in the other metropolitan region of the territory (4,447,393 people).

Issues connected with nationality additionally make Karachi exceptional as opposed to different Pakistani urban communities. 42.30 percent of its populace is Urdu-talking and 10.67 percent is Sindhi-talking, though Lahore is 80.94 percent Punjabi-talking and Peshawar is 90.17 percent Pashto and 5.33 percent Hindko-talking. In any case, Sindh overall is 61.60 percent Sindhi-talking. This makes Karachi the non-Sindhi-talking capital of a transcendently Sindhi-talking region.

Likewise, Karachi is a rich city creating extensive income for the bureaucratic and common states. This can be decided by the way that Karachi contributes 20% of Pakistan’s GDP (GDP), 50% of the nation’s incomes, 46.75 percent of direct charges, 33.65 percent of government extract charge, 23.38 percent of homegrown deals charge, 75.14 percent of customs obligation and 79 percent of deals charge on imports.

It contains the best colleges and clinical offices in Sindh and is the focal point of the Pakistan media industry. Likewise, Karachi’s huge scope modern area utilizes 71.6 percent of Sindh’s absolute modern workforce; the city produces 74.8 percent of the territory’s complete modern result, and it is by and large accepted that it contains 78% of its proper confidential area occupations.

This gigantic abundance of Karachi must be constrained by ideological groups addressing the Sindhi-talking populace of the territory through an exceptionally brought together type of government, while it must be constrained by Karachi-based lawmakers through a profoundly decentralized type of government. This contention has been at the focal point of the conversation on and the disappointment of developing an agreement based neighborhood government framework.

Table 1.1 gives the progressions in populaces of various language speakers from the 1981 to the 2017 registration in Karachi. It very well may be seen that there has been a decrease in the Urdu-talking populace (by 12.04 percent) and a significant expansion in the Pashto-talking populace (by 6.30 percent) in light of proceeded with relocation from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Nonetheless, there has likewise been a significant convergence of travelers from the remainder of Sindh; this deluge should be visible to the expansion in the Sindhi-talking populace from 711,724 people in 1998 to 1,709,977 people in 2017. This is a direct result of a shift from a resource to a market economy in the territory’s rustic regions, bringing about a rising requirement for cash for endurance and trouble in creating that money via landless work and craftsmans.

Besides, Karachi is the main significant city in Pakistan to which the Sindhi-talking populace can undoubtedly move. Essentially, the Seraiki-talking populace, which was miniscule before the 1998 statistics, has expanded by 589,665 somewhere in the range of 1998 and 2017 because of the decay of primitive control and its financial repercussions in Southern Punjab. These relocations are probably going to proceed.

It is additionally vital to see where the different language bunches live in the city (see Table 1.2). The Urdu speakers are amassed for the most part in the Central region, where they are 70.77 percent of its populace, and in Korangi, where they are 61.34 percent of its populace. The Pashto-talking populace is chiefly gathered in region West, which contains an enormous number of Pashto-talking states like Pathan Colony, Frontier Colony, and so forth. The Sindhi-talking populace is mostly moved in the Malir locale, quite a bit of which is a provincial region. The Sindhi-and Pashto-talking populaces will build their political strength impressively in the following 10 years, at the expense of the Urdu-talking populace, assuming that the current pattern of an expansion in their populaces proceeds.

Literacy and marital status

The main age bunch in an enumeration is somewhere in the range of 15 and 24. This is on the grounds that it is both the present and what’s in store. Hence, proficiency and marriage rates, particularly in this age bunch, and of ladies specifically, are significant social markers.

On account of Karachi, the quantity of hitched ladies in this age bunch was 66.71 percent in 1961, 37.92 percent in 1981, 28.54 percent in 1998 and 30.87 percent in 2017. That of hitched men was 13.39 percent in 1981, 10.08 percent in 1998 and 11.24 percent in 2017.

That’s what these figures show, today, Karachi has a staggering larger part of unmarried young people in the age gathering of 15 to 24. Any social scientist would let you know that this is sufficient to change orientation relations and, consequently, family structures. Studies and paper articles let us know that this is as of now occurring, in Karachi, yet in addition in other metropolitan areas of Pakistan — however less significantly.

Be that as it may, somewhere in the range of 1998 and 2017, this pattern changed interestingly starting around 1961 and the quantity of hitched ladies and men in this age bunch expanded by 2.33 percent and 1.16 percent, separately. Conversely, the quantity of hitched ladies in this age bunch in Lahore have kept on diminishing from 27.55 percent to 27.17 percent during the intercensal years.

Here, a correlation with Delhi, a city of a size like Karachi in India, wouldn’t be awkward. The quantity of hitched ladies matured between 15 to 24 of every 2001 was 38.23 percent, which has fallen decisively to 31.25 percent in 2011. These rates let us know that Delhi was, maybe, a more safe society than Karachi however change beginning around 2001 has been definitely more quick than Karachi, and this is maybe likewise a result of Delhi’s a lot higher proficiency rates.

Strangely, be that as it may, the separation rates for ladies are lower in Delhi (0.17 percent in 2011) than in Lahore (0.70 percent in 2017) or Karachi (0.73 percent in 2017).

Proficiency decides various things. As per the tables above, proficiency in Karachi, both for guys and females, and particularly in the age bunch 15 to 24, was a lot higher in 1981 than in Lahore. In 1998, this pattern proceeded. Notwithstanding, in the 2017 statistics, Karachi’s general education is 78.06 percent, while Lahore’s is 84.25 percent.

Female proficiency in Karachi is 77.79 percent while that in Lahore is higher than the city’s male education, and stands at 84.75 percent. Karachi’s exhibition somewhere in the range of 1998 and 2017 has been a lot more slow than Lahore’s, and contrasted with its own past intercensal figures. The purposes behind this should be examined.

Karachi is also unique in other ways. One,

it is the only place in Pakistan where local

and provincial leaders and citizens have questioned

the census results and insisted that Karachi’s population is above 25 million.

Delhi’s exhibition has been outstanding when contrasted with Karachi and Lahore. According to its last enumeration of 2011, its general education rate remains at 86.21 percent, by which that of ladies is 80.76 percent and of men is a great 90.41 percent. In 2001, it was 81.67 percent for the general populace, 74.71 percent for ladies and 87.33 percent for men.

The age gathering of 15-24 makes proficiency a stride further with 93.17 percent of its populace, 94.19 percent of men and 91.93 percent of ladies being proficient. In 2001, paradoxically, 87.78 percent of the complete populace, 89.68 percent of men and 85.24 percent of ladies were proficient inside this age section.

Proficiency likewise decides various different elements. For example, the most elevated proficiency in Karachi is in region Central (at 81.52 percent), which likewise has the most noteworthy business rate — 34.78 percent (taken as a level of the locale’s complete populace over 10 years old).

Furthermore, it has the second most noteworthy separation rate (0.60 percent) and least conjugal rate (60.25 percent). The least proficiency rate is in region Malir (63.69 percent). Alongside this, it has the most elevated conjugal rate (63.61 percent) and least separation rate (0.31 percent).

Educational Attainment

1 Overall’ for primary education is the population aged 10 and above, for matric and undergrad it’s 15 and above, and for master’s it’s 20 and above

Instructive accomplishment for all classifications has expanded in Karachi somewhere in the range of 1981 and 2017. Nonetheless, it has expanded significantly more on account of Lahore somewhere in the range of 1998 and 2017, in contrast to in the past registration. The justification for this should be perceived. On account of Delhi, the figures, particularly for ladies, are significantly high. For instance, female alumni in Karachi are 12.01 percent, in Lahore 14.63 percent and in Delhi they are 21.46 percent. We want to understand what the Indians truly do right to accomplish such insights.

In Karachi, the best friendly markers connected with proficiency, instructive accomplishment and conjugal figures are the most elevated in locale Central, where work figures are likewise the most noteworthy. The most minimal figures for these are in locale Malir. Contrasting the three censuses locale wise shows that improvement happens for a bigger scope in currently evolved regions, albeit in rate terms, measurements for the less evolved regions might look great. The populace which has finished essential training by 2017 in Karachi is extensively higher at 65.96 percent than in 1998 (57.93 percent). Be that as it may, the most recent figures for Lahore (68.88 percent) are higher than those for Karachi and those for Delhi are much higher (76.35 percent). The most noteworthy figures in all instructive achievement classifications are for locale Central. Given these figures and patterns, it is improbable that Karachi’s future projections will be preferable over those of Lahore and Delhi. The explanations behind this should be grasped by Karachi’s policymakers.


Karachi’s enumeration figures for lodging are truly risky. There are 2.73 million families and 2.73 million lodging units. This actually intends that there is no lodging lack in the city, except if we conclude that semi-pakka and katcha houses are not considered as houses. Indeed, they add up to around 5% of all out houses, raising doubt about the frequently given figures for Karachi’s yearly lodging interest at 120,000 houses each year.

Between the last two censuses, Karachi’s populace expanded by 6,168,576 — which, at the pace of six people for each family, works out to around 54,000 houses, that is half of the authoritatively assessed request.

There is no separation in the enumeration information between houses in katchi abadis and those in arranged regions. Without katchi abadi figures, making a decision about lodging conditions in the city is troublesome. In any case, obviously rentals have expanded by 8.27 percent somewhere in the range of 1981 and 2017. Additionally, today, north of 15% of houses are claimed by ladies — the most elevated being in region Central (21.12 percent). This is rather than 7.65 percent for the entire of Sindh (counting Karachi), and 6.99 percent for Pakistan. Leased lodging is 34.67 percent for Karachi rather than 14.05 percent for the entire of Sindh and 11.35 percent for Pakistan.

Clog in lodging is best perceived by people per lodging unit, people per room and houses with one room. Between the 1998 and 2017 censuses, there has been a minor decline in the figures for people per lodging unit and people per room. In any case, the adjustment of houses with one room has been significant, going down from 30.09 percent to 25.74 percent in Karachi. However, these figures can be underhanded in light of the fact that, while specific higher-pay regions have improved, concentrates on let us know that circumstances in the old katchi abadis have become deplorably clogged.


Between the 1981 and 1998 censuses, the quantity of shared washrooms and kitchens diminished — the previous by 19.13 percent and the last option by 12.92 percent. This implies that a bigger number of Karachi families included these offices inside their homes. Notwithstanding, admittance to consumable water has been persistently diminishing for Karachi somewhere in the range of 1981 and 2017, tumbling from 94.91 percent to 83.37 percent, while the contrary pattern has arisen in Lahore, with the figures expanding from 54.97 percent to 88.99 percent during a similar timeframe.

In general, the figures connected with utility associations for Karachi are like those of Lahore. As far as rate, they are during the 90s — notwithstanding consumable water, which is during the 80s. In any case, we realize that water supply isn’t accessible to the residents, associations or no associations, and that power (particularly in the summers) is liable to loadshedding from anything between three to 14 hours out of each day in different pieces of the city. Thusly, the figures on utilities don’t give us the right picture.


It is fascinating to analyze the work rates in Lahore and Karachi. The Employment rate in 1981 was higher in Lahore (at 35.23 percent), however for ladies it was higher in Karachi (at 3.71 percent). In 1998, things changed: the work rate was higher in Karachi for all classes.

In 2017, the Lahore business rate expanded to 34.45 percent while in Karachi it remained at 33.18 percent. An itemized study is expected to distinguish patterns and their causes and repercussions. It is additionally vital to take note of that in the two urban areas, business figures fell somewhere in the range of 1981 and 1998, and afterward rose again in 2017, however not to the degree of 1981.

These distinctions between the two urban areas let us know that Karachi has not had the option to keep up with its pace of monetary development and social vertical portability. For ladies, however, the 1981 details fell in 1998, and afterward rose again in 2017 to levels higher than those of 1981.

It’s additionally vital to take note of that these details remember figures for the officially utilized populace, as well as neglected family work — of which the last option is to a great extent performed by ladies in many families. The evaluation information, be that as it may, doesn’t mirror this as something like seven percent of ladies are displayed as utilized in both Karachi and Lahore.


In this file photo, an enumerator marks a house after collecting information from a resident during a census in Karachi | AFP file
In this file photo, an enumerator marks a house after collecting information from a resident during a census in Karachi | AFP file
  1. Somewhere in the range of 1981 and 1998, Karachi’s social pointers improved impressively. Notwithstanding, somewhere in the range of 1998 and 2017, the pace of progress dialed back. In the mean time, somewhere in the range of 1981 and 1998, Lahore’s social pointer figures were not exactly those of Karachi, however somewhere in the range of 1998 and 2017, Lahore’s social markers — particularly proficiency and instructive achievement — improved altogether as well as are presently well in front of Karachi.
  2. Similar turns out as expected for lodging and conveniences, for example, water supply. The social marks of both Lahore and Karachi, and their pace of progress, are not so much as a fix on those of Delhi (particularly those on proficiency and instructive fulfillment), with the exception of Delhi’s low pace of separation and more female relationships in rate terms. Maybe, it is time that we attempt and grasp the purposes behind these patterns. How have we veered off-track and why?
  3. The positive change that had stopped by 1998 in ladies’ social pointers (like diminishing paces of marriage) in Karachi couldn’t proceed. While instruction related details improved, they did as such at a more slow speed somewhere in the range of 1998 and 2017 than they did somewhere in the range of 1981 and 1998.
  4. The classifications in the statistics are not characterized, because of which an examination is hard to make. For example, there were issues with classes, for example, “lodging units” and “families”. A “family” is characterized as “a gathering of people living respectively who have aggregate game plans for cooking/eating.” While the 2017 registration information reports 97.7 percent lodging units with a kitchen, the quantity of lodging units is equivalent to that of families (suggesting that there is no lack of “families” in Karachi).
  5. As referenced over, the registration is without indicated definitions. While taking a gander at the registration, we are not determined what involves housekeeping when contrasted with “neglected family work”. In the past censuses, various classes were recorded under “work” and an “financially dynamic” populace was characterized.
  6. Moreover, female business figures are erroneous in light of the fact that huge quantities of females work on an agreement premise (with unrefined substances given by center men etc.); they believe themselves to be housewives and don’t group themselves as utilized.
  7. The quantity of individuals living in casual settlements should be expressed completely, particularly since, as per statistics figures, utilities, for example, gas, power and water have been given to almost 95% of lodging units in Karachi.
  8. For the most part, the measurements given for utility arrangement appear to be unrealistic, as their rates are during the 90s. However, as per the print and electronic media, there are extensive stretches of power blackouts, nonappearance of gas ready to go, shortfall of water in specific regions for a really long time and spilling over sewage. Is there a manner by which the registration can take count of this? It might assist us with grasping the gravity and size of the circumstance.
  9. A significant change has occurred in the enlistment of segment information in the 2017 enumeration. Without precedent for Pakistan’s statistics history, the transsexual populace has been perceived. Notwithstanding, due to a shortfall of information and social acknowledgment, the local area’s delegates feel that it is terribly downplayed.

Arif Hasan is an architect and town planner. He can be reached at arifhasan37@gmail.com or www.arifhasan.org

Amal Hashim is a Social Development and Policy graduate whose primary interests lie in researching the cultural and tangible heritage of Karachi.

She can be reached at amal97.hashim@gmail.com

Dhuha Alvi is a Social Development and Policy student who enjoys researching about the intersections of gender and class with politics. She can be reached at zohaalvi.21@gmail.com

Published in The Okara Times, EOS, July 31st, 2022

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