International Development Planning Review

Multi-dimensional conflict and the resilient urban informal economy in Karachi, Pakistan

International Development Planning Review (2022), 44, (2), 169–189.


This paper explores the resilience of the urban informal economy through multi-dimensional conflict. Karachi constituted an ideal case study for the research given the intensity and paradigmatic nature of the multi-dimensional conflict experienced in the city between 2008 and 2013. The paper applies a comparative frame in three sites (Sadar, Orangi and Lyari) to illustrate resilience of the informal economy and its role in supporting the urban poor in Karachi to survive and sometimes thrive, whilst also contributing to peaceful recovery and adaptation, albeit persistent divisions mean violence remains possible. The paper argues for greater recognition of and support for informal economies in urban policy, marking a shift away from the predominant neoliberal forms of governance that diminish the role of the state and burden already vulnerable people with the greatest risks, particularly in fragile, conflict-affected situations where half the world’s poor are predicted to live by 2030.

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Author details

Mackie, Peter

Brown, Alison M. B.

Mehmood, Abid

Ahmed, Saeed Ud Din