LAHORE In 1947, the year of Pakistan’s birth, the city had a population of 500,000 In the census of 1998, its population was estimated at five million Its boundaries now include a number of small towns that were once separated from it by farmland It is now the second largest industrial city, accounting for one-fifth of industrial output By 2005, the city’s boundaries had expanded and its population had increased to more than seven million The first few decades of the 21st century may see the reemergence of Lahore as Pakistan’s premier urban center If the present trends continue, by 2015, Lahore may overtake Karachi in terms of both the size of its population and its contribution to the national economy There is also the possibility that Lahore may evolve a cultural identity of its own, quite separate from that of Karachi Finally, the political center of gravity may also shift toward Lahore The last trend is already visible; it may gather momentum as some of the forces that have surfaced in urban Pakistan begin to move the city ahead of its competitors and take it toward greater prominence

Lahore would have been Pakistan’s most prominent city but for the way Lord Radcliffe drew the boundary between the Indian and Pakistani Punjabs In 1947, the year Pakistan was born, Lahore would have been the most obvious choice to become the capital of the new country However, Radcliffe drew the border too close to the city to justify locating the country’s capital in what was then Pakistan’s largest urban center Apart from its size, Lahore, more than Karachi, had most of the infrastructure required for the capital of a country; it was well connected with the provinces in the western wing of what is now Pakistan, had a sound economic base on which the urban economy could be built, and possessed the bureaucratic skills around which the new administration could be structured Lord Radcliffe’s dispensation disabled Lahore; it could not become the seat of the Pakistani government for as long as India and Pakistan continued to view each other with suspicion and hostility

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