By Muhammad Luqman
Karachi has retained the title of Pakistan’s most populous urban centre , but its population stood at only 14.9 million, which is far below the number every one has been guessing during the course of recently concluded Census.
Provisional results of the Sixth Population Census show that in the past 19 years, there was a 60% increase in Karachi’s population, compared with a 116% increase in Lahore’s population, which rose to 11.126 million people by 2017, showed the results. Lahore also witnessed the highest growth rate in Pakistan followed by Peshawar (100.4%) and Islamabad (91.8%).
During the past 19 years, Karachi’s population increased from 9.339 million to 14.91 million – a net addition of 5.56 million people. Compared to this, Lahore’s population increased from 5.143 million to 11.126 million, showing an addition of almost 6 million more people, according to the provincial results.
Karachi and Lahore were the only two cities of Pakistan that hosted more than 10 million people. Of the 10 most populous cities, five are in Punjab, two in Sindh, and one each in Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, and Islamabad Capital Territory. The Pakistan Bureau of Statistics categorised cities as ‘notified urban areas’, which is why there are discrepancies between population estimates that may include suburbs of the major cities.
The Faisalabad Metropolitan Corporation was the third-largest city, with 3.2 million people. There was a net addition of 1.2 million people in the past 19 years – or a 59.43% increase since 1998.
Rawalpindi city hosted the fourth-highest number of people with 2.098 million. In 1998, Rawalpindi’s population was 1.4 million. It grew by 48.8% in the past 19 years. The Gujranwala Metropolitan Corporation was in fifth place with 2.027 million people. Its population increased by 78.9% or 894,000 in the past 19 years.
Peshawar was the sixth-largest urban centre with 1.97 million people. In 1998, the provincial capital’s population was only 983,000. One of the reasons for the massive spike could be migration from the war-torn Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
Multan was the seventh major city, hosting 1.872 million people. Its population grew by 56.4% or 675,000 since 1998.
Hyderabad was the eighth-most populous city with 1.733 million people. There was a net addition of 566,000 people in the past 19 years – or 48.5%, which was the lowest growth rate of cities in the top 10.
Islamabad Metropolitan Corporation’s population increased 91.8% to 1.015 million people.
Quetta city hosts 1.001 million people, becoming the 10th-biggest major city. Its population increased by 77% or 436,000 during the past 19 years.