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Research Report

Migration and small towns in Pakistan

Arif Hasan
with Mansoor Raza
Copyright Date: Jun. 1, 2009
Pages: 140
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 1-1)

    Migration has long played a key role in shaping the size and distribution of the population of Pakistan. Since the partition of the British Indian Empire in 1947, and up to recent and ongoing conflicts within the region, Pakistan has been the destination for large numbers of cross-border migrants and refugees. These migrant groups, together with the growing number of rural people displaced by agricultural modernization and mechanization, have contributed to the substantial increase in the levels of urbanization in Pakistan, especially in the more industrialized provinces of Punjab and Sindh. At the same time, like the people of so...

  2. (pp. 2-10)

    Pakistan is a federation of four provinces (see Map 1), each with an elected provincial assembly. In the national assembly, every province is represented in proportion to its population, while in the national senate each province is equally represented. Provinces are divided into zilas or districts, and districts in turn are divided into rural and urban tehsils or sub-districts. The tehsils are further subdivided into union councils (UCs) which are the lowest administrative unit. The average population of a UC varies between 50,000 and 70,000. The larger cities, which include the provincial capitals, are run as city districts and subdivided...

  3. (pp. 10-18)

    The areas that constitute Pakistan today have received a very large volume of migrants from India and from neighbouring countries due to development policies under British rule and later due to political and ethnic conflicts. These migrations and their repercussions are discussed in this section.

    Between 1872 and 1929, the British developed perennial irrigation in the regions of central Punjab, which are now part of Pakistan. As a result, they colonized over 4.5 million hectares of desert and pastoral land for agricultural purposes. They imported peasants from eastern Punjab (now in India) to colonize these lands and in the process...

  4. (pp. 18-27)

    Tables 5 to 9 in Appendix 3 give an overview of the scale and causes of migration in Pakistan. They also indicate the scale of migration to and from different provinces, providing the basis for an analysis of the sociological and economic reasons for migration, and its locations.

    The census definition of a migrant is someone who has resided somewhere else previously, other than the district or tehsil in which he or she is residing at the time of the census. This definition refers to internal migrants and does not cover international migration. According to Table 5, 10.8 million Pakistanis...

  5. (pp. 27-41)

    People from Azad Kashmir, especially from the Mirpur district, started to work as industrial labour in Bradford and Birmingham in the UK well before Independence. However, this emigration was very small and was limited to a few hundred people. In the 1950s and 1960s this number increased substantially, partly because some of Mirpur town and its surrounding areas were converted into a huge storage zone as a result of a mega-irrigation project. The UK government awarded those affected by this project emigrant status as part of a compensation package, as the UK government was one of the international guarantors for...

  6. (pp. 41-43)

    The nature, sociology, culture and governance systems of small towns in the Indus Valley, and in the other areas that form Pakistan today, have been recorded since 600BC.117 Before colonization, there were three types of small town.

    1. Market towns were sited on the rivers or on mounds in their floodplains, as agriculture was carried out in the floodplains. They were dominated by merchants trading in agricultural produce and crafts (mainly textiles) produced in the villages in their catchment areas. Much of the transport of agricultural produce was by river, and so transport contractors were important. A nexus of government bureaucrats,...

  7. (pp. 44-62)

    For this study, four towns were chosen to illustrate the nature of the social and demographic changes affecting small towns in Pakistan: Mithi in the Tharparkar district of southern Sindh, Uch in the Bahawalpur district of southern Punjab, Chiniot in the Jhang district of central Punjab, and Mingora in the Swat district of NWFP. These towns were chosen to represent the maximum diversity of small towns in Pakistan. Unfortunately, it was not possible to visit Mingora because of the ongoing insurgency against the government in the Swat district. However, studies from the NWFP have been included in the previous sections...

  8. (pp. 62-63)

    The following seven broad conclusions can be drawn from the findings of this study.

    1 Remittances from abroad have had a positive impact on Pakistan’s economy. Without these remittances, the exchange rate and monetary and fiscal policies would come under great pressure. However, remittances have not had much of an impact on the local economy and have been used mainly for building property, improving lifestyles, purchasing gadgetry and for better education. In locations such as Chiniot, where skills and entrepreneurship already existed, remittance income has been used for tools for business purposes. In the less developed areas of Pakistan, from...