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Tackling Poverty in Pakistan

Poverty in Pakistan

By: Saqib Ali

Pakistan is a country that has been blessed with abounding natural resources – both renewable and nonrenewable – that are sufficient for fulfilling all the needs of the people of the country. It has also vast agricultural productivity, huge livestock population, mighty rivers, dense forests and compatible seasons to boost up the production of corps. It is inevitable to increase the production of crops in order to feed the 208 million people who are increasingly becoming the victims of starvation, hunger and malnutrition that is causing stunted growth of our children. Further, low incomes and long working hours can also be attributed to this vicious cycle of poverty. For instance, more than 40 percent people are living below the poverty line in Pakistan.

Since its inception, Pakistan has received millions of dollars from other countries and international financial institutions for the eradication of poverty. A number of economic policies were also formulated by the government in this regard. Nonetheless, it has not been successful in eliminating the voice of poverty from the society. This is particularly not reasonable when a comparison of Pakistan is made with India and China. Owing to their robust policies and huge inflow of foreign investments, both these countries have experienced a sharp fall in their poverty levels. Pakistan’s progress in this area has been very poor. In fact, unemployment is a major cause behind the prevalent abject poverty in our country. According to the World Bank estimates, unemployment rate reached at the peak of 5.9% in 2016 and 2017. How can our state prosper when there is rampant unemployment and poverty? How can we safeguard our people against deadly diseases, when health services are inadequate and substandard treatment is provided to the patients at government hospitals? These are some serious questions that need to be addressed by the PTI government.

Although many efforts have been put in by successive governments in the realm of poverty eradication, e.g. Benazir Income Support Programme and other such initiatives, yet qualitative changes in the lives of the poor could not be realized. And, there are numerous reasons behind this fiasco, including highly centralized economic system, widening gap between the haves and the have-nots, unbridled wastage of food, high inflation and exuberant food prices, joblessness and demand and supply dilemma. In this regard, major stakeholders should be taken into confidence for the formulation of policies that would be lucrative enough to attract investments from local as well foreign businessmen and investors. This, in turn, would generate a large number of jobs for our unemployed youth. Furthermore, employment exchange campaigns should be launched in collaboration with China, especially under the CPEC. This would be another golden opportunity for our talented youth that they would exploit to secure jobs, with an added benefit of building a cultural relationship between the two nations. There is no denying the fact that employment opportunities are interlinked with reduction in poverty, and Pakistan needs to tackle this issue on urgent basis.

Concurrently, some other steps and initiatives like incorporating simplicity, inculcating moral and ethical values in our social fabric, maintaining equality and justice, rooting out corruption, distributing resources efficiently and discouraging wastage and contamination of food, as well as laying great emphasis on water conservation are required at the earliest to tackle this persisting dilemma. In fact, making these efforts is inevitable if we want to take our nation to the height of glory and prosperity.


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