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Sustainable urban transport in Pakistan: threats and opportunities

Muhammad Imran (Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia)
Nicholas Low (Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia)

Management of Environmental Quality

ISSN: 1477-7835

Article publication date: 1 October 2005



The purpose of the paper is to explore this phenomenon, how initial choice in the history of transport policy in Pakistan became “locked into” suboptimal transport policies biased towards private vehicles and roads and now resisting change to a more sustainable transport policy.


The methodology was designed by applying the concept of “path dependence” on a case study of Pakistan. This approach helped to locate the “critical juncture” for explaining how transport decision has been made over time and on which basis.


Pakistan transport development, including urban transport planning, has become both “resource dependent” and “path dependent” upon international agencies which shapes the outcomes and limits the application of sustainable solutions in transport in ways that could be consistent with the local situation.

Research limitations/implications

The paper is a part of a research project, “identifying the institutional barriers to sustainable urban transport in Pakistan” which is in progress. Therefore, the paper may develop its findings at the end of the research project.

Practical implications

The paper provides valuable information to getting insight into urban transport politics of Pakistan.


The research paper has implied the concept of “path dependence” to explain the difference between reality and ideal in urban transport planning of Pakistan by the interventions of global agencies.



Imran, M. and Low, N. (2005), "Sustainable urban transport in Pakistan: threats and opportunities", Management of Environmental Quality, Vol. 16 No. 5, pp. 505-529.



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Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited