Literature Review: The Impacts Of Rural-Urban Migration in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa

Okay, my dearest readers! Here is a little (well, it’s not really little, but you know what I mean) excerpt from the epic research paper I am currently working on for one of my rural development courses. The topic is actually on the socio-economic repercussions/transformational outcomes of rural-urban migration in the rural areas, particularly the FATA region, in this case, in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

Please bear in mind that this is a paper written strictly for academic purposes, and it includes embedded citations (from very relevant sources, i.e.: academic journals, peer-reviewed articles, etc.). I usually prefer footnotes, but for this blog post, I decided to provide my citations in APA format, so that my readers can see where exactly I am getting my information from. And since this is a research paper, my professor wants us to read up on as many papers/articles as possible, in order to do a literature review and get an in-depth knowledge of the topic. He prefers that we, as academics, should not focus on only one region or issue, but rather read up on rural-urban migration from all sides and perspectives, and from as many different countries as we possibly can. This will allow us the opportunity to critically compare and analyze the differences. And the more deeper I go into my program, the more I will begin to realize that as a graduate student aiming for my professorship, I will not limit myself to only one country, or region, but rather focus on as many countries as possible; especially in the developing world. But, anyway, that is a whole different topic and I won’t bother delving into all that now. (Will probably save it for another blog post.)

Anyway, here you go.


Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, located in North Pakistan, is primarily an agricultural province (Khan, 2005). And Peshawar city is the provincial capital and the first in population of cities in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. It plays a prominent role in accelerating the pace of economic development in the region. It is the central attraction for many rural migrants and a great source for income remittances. Typically, some 30 to 38% of the income earned by migrants, working in urban cities, is returned to their rural villages (Khan, 2005).

The Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) is a semi-autonomous rural tribal region in the northwest of Pakistan, lying between the province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, and the neighboring country of Afghanistan. FATA comprises of seven Agencies, or tribal districts, and six Frontier regions. The territory is almost exclusively inhabited by Pashtun tribes, which are predominantly Sunni Muslims by faith. Many from this rural region migrate to Peshawar — the land of hope and opportunity. And this migration has, in turn, contributed significantly to the local rural economy and prosperity brought forth by remittances sent from the urban cities (Shinwari, 2010).

However, it has often been contested that the proportion of income, earned by migrants, returned to rural villages vary greatly; depending on the strength of social and economic ties between migrants and their families. Such factors include the amount of income the urban dwellers earn as well as their length of stay in the city. Also, whether or not the migrants bring their immediate families with them to the cities also affects the flow of remittances. Most of the migrants from FATA, as well as other rural areas in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, typically do not bring their families over until they are properly settled, which means having a permanent job and a house in an informal settlement (Hasan and Raza, 2009). Many of these migrants work as transporters and day-wage labourers, who live at transport terminals or at building sites for male-only workers. Therefore, it is difficult for them to accommodate their families. Others work as cooks and full-time drivers for the wealthy elite or for business enterprises. And the elite provide accommodation, but do not like families living on their premises. This, again, is a disincentive to bring families over (Hasan and Raza, 2009).

Albeit, there are times when remittances are large, which may appear beneficial on the surface, but they tend to become smaller as migrants remain in the city for longer periods of time. As a result, their ties to their home villages become tenuous. This is the case with FATA as well, where money sent back from Peshawar is immediately used up by relatives to meet social obligations, which include paying for marriages, school fees, house repairs, support of elderly kin, furniture, entertainment goods like TV, radio, tape recorder, vehicles, or refrigerators, as well as investment in productive activities.

Nevertheless, Peshawar has accommodated a variety of organizations that socialize rural people in urban areas, and mediate conflicts between them. The social interaction that takes place in the city infuses new ideas, attitudes, behaviours and life styles, as well as provides rural migrants the ability to cope with urban living, as well as urban problems. Further, Peshawar city has provided opportunities for economic and social mobility, which offers new economic and social opportunities for Pashtun women as well.

In the conservative traditional society of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, female education and employment was considered a great “sin” and a “crime,” but these tight traditions have been relaxed by the intermingling of the rural and urban population in Peshawar and, as a result, female educational institutions have begun to emerge significantly within many of the rural areas in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (Khan, 2005). The urban role of promoting female literacy, though slightly outdated, can be judged by the following statistical data of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa: Female literacy in the rural hinterland is 3.8% and in urban areas it is 21.9% (NWFP Development Statistics, 1986).

Also, despite serious crimes in urban areas, a degree of peace, fraternity, and brotherhood is replacing traditional conflicts and enmity prevailing in many rural areas within Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. And this is due to the assimilation effects of the cities on their nearby rural parts. The more “inhuman” traditions of marriage have also been relaxed due to social assimilation in the city (Khan, 2005).

Business competition in Peshawar among the rural and urban population has been another positive effect of rural-urban migration, which accelerates the pace of economic and regional development. But further measures are required to increase the intermingling and assimilation of the rural and urban communities. Ulack (1975) argues that as people from varied economic, cultural, educational and social backgrounds are brought together, some of the more valuable traditions and ideas of one group become apparent and may, in time, eventually become accepted by other group(s). Thus, while rural migrants from the FATA region are in the process of adjusting to urban life, they are exposed to and often adopt new ways of thinking, behaving and doing things that allow them to cope with problems and complexities of urban living. Urban living also creates pressures that bring changes in family structure, a shift from extended to nuclear families, a weakening of traditional family obligations and rituals, and a tendency toward having fewer rather than more children (Khan, 2005).

Auxiliary impacts of rural-urban migration in Khyber-Pakhunkhwa involve the creation of informal settlements in Peshawar. These settlements are increasing in number, and plans for their regularization and improvement are unable to keep up with increasing household demands. Further, public land is not readily available, so these settlements are being created by the informal subdivision of valuable agricultural land. Since accessibility to these settlements is important, the majority of them are being created along the transport corridors entering the city from different directions (Hasan and Raza, 2009). As a result, corridor development along the main arteries poses serious problems for infrastructure development. Additionally, the loss of agricultural land to ad-hoc development is also a matter of considerable concern.

Moreover, additional problems that have affected the potential of Peshawar to accelerate rural-urban socioeconomic integration in the FATA region are administrative weaknesses, uneven development, rural-urban bias, and irresponsible planning policies (Khan, 2005).

© SesapZai, November 27, 2011.

5 responses to “Literature Review: The Impacts Of Rural-Urban Migration in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa

  1. dear mam:
    I need literature cited for ( khan 2005, shinwari 2010, hassan and raza 2009). please feed me. thanks.

    • Pa khair Mujeeb wrora!

      It’s such an honour that you quoted me in your paper, and yes, you are more than welcome to use those sources.

      Here are the full references for those three authors:

      – Khan, A. (2005). “Urban Centers as a Catalyst for Socio-Economic and Regional Development in TWC’s: A Case Study of Peshawar, NWFP, Pakistan.” Department of Economics, Gomal University, Dera Ismail Khan, NWFP, Pakistan.

      – Shinwari, N.A. (2010). “Understanding FATA: Attitudes Towards Governance, Religion & Society in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas,” Volume IV, Community Appraisal & Motivation Programme (CAMP).

      – Hasan, A. and Raza, M. (2009). “Migration and small towns in Pakistan.” International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED). Working Paper Series on Rural-Urban Interactions and Livelihood Strategies, Working Paper 15.

      I suggest you get access to those papers and read them as they will help you. By the way, what are you working on, if you don’t mind my asking. Is this for a research paper/essay/thesis? I got a 96% on this paper, so I’m more than happy to help you proofread it and such. Good luck! 🙂

  2. Well written, with variety of information about KPK, Pakhtuns and their lives. Though I have some reservations on certain points but overall I must say its a good effort.

  3. wow your paper is quite interesting,,,i would like to hear from you please i am doing my research project based on the impacts of rural-urban migration on land delivery. if you can just give me some hints on my literature review. thanks

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