Population Explosion in Pakistan – Challenges of Urban Centers
The Washington Post, quoting preliminary results from the 2017 national census in Pakistan, has stated that our population rose by 57 % since last census in 1998 reaching 207.7 Billion making us fifth most populous country in the world.  Census data shows astronomical increase in Urban population at 36.4 % through rapid urbanization confronting us with issues of climate change, deforestation, pollution, waste management and overall issue of youth bulge. 
Essentials of Urban Centres
UNHABITAT, indicators include Shelter ; Social Development and Eradication of Poverty; Environmental Management; Economic Development & Governance.
Development Of Urban Indicators: A Malaysian Initiative enumerates them as Land use, Population, Households, Economic, Socio-economic development, Infrastructure, Transport, Environmental management, Local government, Affordable & adequate housing and Housing provision
Overview of Population growth in Urban Centres
Population growth in urban centres has two distinct reasons. Its mostly migration from rural areas augmented on the other hand by local population growth. Half of world’s total population now live in urban settlements, and over the next 20 years atleast in developing world ALL population is expected to be only in urban areas. This pace will out-strip the pace of planned urbanization, create squatter settlements and shanty towns, create small cities. Data confirms that it’s the smaller, mushrooming, cities where provision of piped water, waste disposal, electricity, and schools suffer compared to residents of medium or large cities.
Pakistan’s perspective – Rapid Population Growth
Rapid increase in urban population of Pakistan from 1998 to 2014 is observed at 43.0 million in 1998 and 72.5 million in 2014. Pakistan is predicted to be primarily urbanized by 2025. Currently almost 47% of urban population resides in ten major cities, each with the population of more than 1 million. Increase in rural-urban migration is the key factor in this conglomeration. Push factor includes low agrarian output, landlessness and sub-division of land, poor economic, educational and health opportunities whereas pull factor at destination includes better wages, improved living standards, availability of standard education and health, urban infrastructure.
Major cities of Pakistan are experiencing both urban population growth, and urban expansion (horizontal development). Such as, in 1965 both major cities Karachi and Lahore had more than 1 million urbanities within their fringes, but their expansion overwhelmed other adjoining towns and especially rural areas by the 1990s. 
Urban poverty is on the rise, with one in eight urban dwellers living below the poverty line. According to the World Bank, : Messy from low-density sprawl and hidden as cities grow beyond administrative boundaries to include ‘ruralopilises’, which are densely populated rural areas and outskirts not officially designated as cities.
Unfortunately, urbanisation also presents major economic challenges. An obvious example is how rising city populations, and the consequent high demand for low-income urban employment, overwhelm an already constrained job market. 
Indicators – As Is & Analysis
(1) Shelter including Housing, durable structures, overcrowding, access to safe water, access to improved sanitation, connection to services
At present Pakistan has a serious housing backlog and crisis. In 1998, 4.3 million housing unit were estimated, and had climbed to 9 million as supplementary housing unit. Pakistan Standard National tenancy rate/unit is more than 6, with the density of 3.5 persons per room as compare to 1.1 persons per room with international standard.. Due to the lack of affordable housing for urban poor, inhabitants are forced to live in slums developed primarily as illegal invasion build in low laying area, for example beside water ways, natural drain, nearby the work location within fringe of low-cost dwellings.
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 World Bank estimates that poor sanitation costs Pakistan around 3.9 percent of GDP, PKR 343.7 Billion; diarrhea-related death and disease among children under five being the largest contributor.
Water quality has not much improved due to several reasons including contamination of water sources and old infrastructure. 
(2) Social Development and Eradication of Poverty including under-five mortality, HIV Prevalence, Literacy and School Enrolment
The latest UNICEF report states that Pakistan has the worst infant mortality rate in the world. Polio is also out of control due to the inadequate and improper sanitation. .  While poverty level is lower in Urban, its fast catching up – as UN-Habitat (2003) put it “Urbanization of Poverty” is on way.
Human poverty indicators, such as health, housing, safe drinking water, sanitation, and waste collection facilities in deprived or neglected areas of the city are in worst conditions. Urban poor comprises of housing with low standards, vitally use well/ underground water, with open drains, poor waste disposal, which prevents chronic diseases and majority of them are being suffered with these diseases. Provision of education facilities (especially for girls), health facilities and access to electricity in public sector plays a significant role while explaining the poverty level and its differences.
A rise in concrete structures across the urban landscape is increasing temperatures within cities. In 2015, an unanticipated heat wave in Karachi led to almost 1,500 deaths.
(3) Environmental Management including urban population growth
Problems related to environment problems in urban vicinity comprise air-noise, water contamination, also relates problem to wastes (hazardous and deadly waste). Track of urbanization or industrialization directs a decline in healthy environment. Using fuel, fossils as a whole within industries, households as well as transportation causes massive contamination in urban atmosphere. In addition, most hazardous and toxic waste are being dispose off as fluid waste.
Air pollution is a big challenge in urban centres of Pakistan including Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, and Quetta indicating a high concentration of SPM 2.5 microns (suspended particulate matter), and reached at level that is 2 to 3.5 higher than (NEQS) National Environmental Quality Standards.
(4) Economic Development including unemployment
About 80 percent of urban households in Pakistan earn PKR 26,000 per month or less, and about 60 percent make less than PKR 21,000 per month. Essentially energy drives economy of a country but Pakistan is hit by excessive load shedding, load management affecting production and hence economic development leading to unemployment.
Pakistan Economic Survey as recently as for 2015-16 reported a negative growth of 0.19 % in Agriculture sector. 
Demographic change in Pakistani urban centres and cities has fuelled ethno-political tensions and urban violence. Future of the Pakistani cities will be shaped by quality of urban governance, however municipal corporations and development authorities lacking in technical expertise and resources essential for good governance and modern urban planning.
The Devolution of Power Plan in 2001 provided system were decentralization of power/control for local decision making, and the development of Citizen Community Boards (CCBs) to ensure participation of public in the decision making. However, the system was closed down by the later government in 2008 and the system of urban governance returned back to local municipal and development authorities. 
(6) General Issues
Migration to urban areas disturbs the ethnic and cultural fabric. This leads to conflicts and power struggles. Karachi has seen its fair share of struggles between native Sindhis, Urdu Speaking migrants and Pakhtuns moving to it in 1960s till date. With all these groups striving for dominance in jobs, political representation and businesses Karachi has suffered intrinsic conflicts more often than not. Such ethnic divides also forge links with criminal gangs and ethnic based political parties.
Inadequate public transport and accessible car loan via commercial banks is leading to a great increase of private vehicles on roads in major cities of Pakistan. This fact is generating serious traffic congestion, deterioration of environment and air pollution in cities.
Pakistan is the most rapidly urbanizing country in South Asia.  This trend of population shifts outpacing the resources of urban communities has paved the way for what a 2012 World Bank report identifies as “Messy and Hidden” urbanization, or the existence of millions of people who live in slums without access to basic services. These hidden areas have allowed safe havens to come up for crime, gang violence, and even terrorist groups.
War on Terror has also been a major contributor to migration to urban centres including from Afghanistan, FATA & peripheral areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. 
Way Forward For Sustainable Urban Development
A locally rooted, democratized culture of sustainability has to be the foundation of urban development. However, in case of Pakistan its not so much future planned urban development but to pick the pieces of already unplanned one towards betterment that governs our way forward.
And the best way forward consists of one word containing 19 letters – METROPOLITANIZATION !!
Why ?! Because:-
a) It will create urban agglomeration, urban-rural interdependence and networked urban structures. These sub-centers assume different roles, such as the agriculture producer in shape of farms, the industrial and economic hub, the environmental balancer as in green and wooded areas, including rural;
b) Dedicated local renewable energy production not dependent on national grid. This can include solar and wind, and will also contribute towards business requirements;
c) Eco-system maintenance such as water regulation & purification, waste treatment, erosion regulation, climate regulation, natural hazard regulation over a sizable area as well as protection of watershed which is outside of built-up area;
d) Proper public transport facilities in shape of metros coupled with proper infrastructure for non-motorized traffic such as cyclists and pedestrians. The more private motorized transport is discouraged, the more we will be nearer to zero emissions;
e) Democratic institutions which on one hand provide a platform to National and Provincial Governments to delegate actual authority till the neighbourhood level and on the other are all-inclusive comprising not only the elected but also technocrats, academic partners and representatives from services;
f) Legal and regulatory changes on best practice rather than compromise. Commercially viable solutions instead of popular ones should be the benchmark to sustain urban development;
g) A financing model wherein local governments move towards budgetary independence through property tax, user charges etc and get augmentation through provincial transfers.
h) E-Governance providing citizens convenience of doing business with government, right to information, zero tolerance on corruption and open accss to public information.
i) Migrations will NOT stop. Inclusive pro-poor strategies are reqired. UNDP notes that it is vital to ensure that individual migrants settle in well on arrival so enduring that migrant children have equal access to education and support to catch up and integrate, can improve their prospects and avoid a future underclass. Language training for all family members is key to cohesion and ensuring the migrant family becomes part of the urban centre’s body-politic.
j) Robust Health System emphasizing, and investing in, preventive health more than curative to bring down Out Of Pocket expenditure through availability at door step and reducing cost of treatment through family medicine.
‘A disaster in the making’: Pakistan’s population surges to 207.7 million, Pamela Constable,
Exploding Population Bomb, Zahid Hussain, dawn.com/news/1354793
Urbanization in developing countries: Current trends, future projections, and key challenges for sustainability, Barney Cohen, sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160791X05000588
Urbanization in Pakistan: Challenges and Way Forward-(Options) For Sustainable Urban Development; Waqar Ahmed Khan Jatoo* , Chen Jing Fu, Wimonsiri Saengkrod, Abdul Ghaffar Mastoi, 4th International Conference on Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development 2016
The six biggest challenges facing Pakistan’s urban future, Hina SHaikh & Ijaz Nabi, https://www.theigc.org/blog/the-six-biggest-challenges-facing-pakistans-urban-future/
Urbanisation in Pakistan: causes and consequences Michael Kugelman, https://www.files.ethz.ch/isn/159296/4c5b5fa0ebc5684da2b9f244090593bc.pdf
Urbanization in Pakistan, A Governance Perspective; Nasira Jabeen * Umm-e- Farwa ** Musa Jadoon*, pu.edu.pk/images/journal/history/PDF-FILES/9_54_1_17.pdf
“Messy and Hidden” Urbanization: A Security Challenge for Pakistan: Zainab Ahmad, southasianvoices.org/messy-and-hidden-urbanization-a-security-challenge-for-pakistan
Migration and Urbanization-UNFPA-Pakistan; pakistan.unfpa.org/en/topics/migration-and-urbanization
 ‘A disaster in the making’: Pakistan’s population surges to 207.7 million, Pamela Constable,
 Exploding Population Bomb, Zahid Hussain, dawn.com/news/1354793
 Urbanization in developing countries: Current trends, future projections, and key challenges for sustainability, Barney Cohen, sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160791X05000588
 Urbanization in Pakistan: Challenges and Way Forward-(Options) For Sustainable Urban Development; Waqar Ahmed Khan Jatoo* , Chen Jing Fu, Wimonsiri Saengkrod, Abdul Ghaffar Mastoi, 4th International Conference on Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development 2016
 The six biggest challenges facing Pakistan’s urban future, Hina SHaikh & Ijaz Nabi, https://www.theigc.org/blog/the-six-biggest-challenges-facing-pakistans-urban-future/
 Urbanisation in Pakistan: causes and consequences Michael Kugelman, https://www.files.ethz.ch/isn/159296/4c5b5fa0ebc5684da2b9f244090593bc.pdf
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 Urbanization in Pakistan, A Governance Perspective; Nasira Jabeen * Umm-e- Farwa ** Musa Jadoon*, pu.edu.pk/images/journal/history/PDF-FILES/9_54_1_17.pdf
 “Messy and Hidden” Urbanization: A Security Challenge for Pakistan: Zainab Ahmad, southasianvoices.org/messy-and-hidden-urbanization-a-security-challenge-for-pakistan
 Migration and Urbanization-UNFPA-Pakistan; pakistan.unfpa.org/en/topics/migration-and-urbanization