Friday, 24 July 2009

Rafay Alam: Great thinking on urban issues!

"Slums, however, are not the problem. Every developing city has at least one. Slums are not indicators of poverty so much as they are indicators of the failure of city fathers to estimate the future needs of their city. Slums are, in fact, places of great human and commercial activity. It's just that don't have the same water, sewage, electricity utilities, and space, found in places like a Defence housing colony. If it weren't for the slums, our cities wouldn't have the people that make, for instance, Karachi the commercial capital of the country. (The same is true of the slum populations and economies of Lagos, Mumbai, Calcutta, Sao Paulo or any other thriving third world city.)

No, slums are not the problem. What is the problem is the fact that our cities are not being planned for the future. Our cities are being planned to favour the elite and to favour foreign investment. They are designed with thoughts of London or New York in mind. They are designed and planned, in other words, without a thought to the reality that Pakistan is not an economic giant. It is not a place five-star hotel chains want to set up business. Its cities are not places where everyone will live in little bungalows, eat food prepared in the cooking oil ads we see on TV, and drive leased automobiles."