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Poverty in Pakistan


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A STUDY on poverty has brought Pakistan face to face with a reality that it will find hard to accept: every third Pakistani is caught in the ‘poor’ bracket i.e. some 58.7 million out of a total population of 180 million subsist below the poverty line. This includes more than half the population in the forever remote Balochistan, 33 per cent in Sindh, 32 per cent in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 19 per cent in Punjab. These are daunting figures. But they are much needed for planning, especially when the government appears too embarrassed to release statistics related to poverty. The Sustainable Development Policy Institute, which has carried out this economic-mapping exercise, is justified in calling for the release of government figures and for a policy to combat acute poverty. These are facts which are being kept under wraps at great peril to the country.

Quite clearly, the dilemma as we know is yet to be overcome. Areas such as defence get the better of development; the more affluent are able to deny the less affluent in the name of sustaining themselves; and the small change that reaches the marginalised segments is never enough to pull them into the promised mainstream. The formula that channels resources and attaches due importance to the underdeveloped is yet to be found. Worse, an earnest search for such a formula is yet to begin. Consequently, development has proceeded in the only manner it could: the gap between the more privileged and the more backward has increased with time, even as successive governments have dangled ‘special packages’ in front of those with the greatest need. This reflects in social, political and, quite often, ethnic tensions, in revolts and in militancy.

The SDPI study identifies the 20 poorest districts, 16 of which exist in Balochistan that has been long agitating for attention. There are no marks for guessing that the other four poorest districts are also located away from the train of progress, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The exercise doesn’t identify the causes behind this continued and unfortunate disparity, but the basic factor responsible for the situation is not very difficult to list. The primary reason is the lack of proper, meaningful and non-discriminatory representation for all regions in decision-making. Those who are able to some extent participate in the running of affairs do manage to secure a better deal. Others are denied participation, and democracy for them remains an illusion. The first resource they are looking for is the space from where they can speak and be heard. This is the most essential prerequisite to progress.

Comments (11) Closed

james Sep 26, 2012 05:48am
Now tell on poverty i pakistan
ahmed41 Sep 26, 2012 05:44am
I remember, long ago some one raised the electioneering SLOGAN : ** GHARIBEE HATAOO**. Slogans do not work~~~lets try compassion and hard work to bring prosperity to the downtrodden citizens.
lalit bagai Sep 26, 2012 11:55am
your countries greatest poverty is intellectual. i expect this message will be removed by the moderator, this will prove my point
M. Asghar Sep 26, 2012 03:12pm
All of these comments are just trivial, because none of them try to analys the locations and causes of this poverty.
Gerry D'Cunha Sep 26, 2012 10:52am
what about the popular slogan ROTI - KAPARA - MAKAN in 1967 by ZA Bhutto - in 45 years all three necessity of poor man has been taken away
A. Kumar Sep 26, 2012 04:12pm
Well said. The Bible says there is nobody so blind as the one who refuses to see. The leaders of Pakistan should open their eyes and see what is happening in the World.
farooq Sep 26, 2012 05:05pm
As a nation every one must be honest with themselves and work for the stability of Pakistan, we must reduce our expenses, and help those who are deserving.
Iftikhar Husain Sep 26, 2012 11:18am
Rotu Kapra Makan is still the slogan of Peoples party where we stand after this report. The government should be accountable to this failure.
Mateen Asif Sep 27, 2012 06:34am
Change requires education, not to earn but to build morality in people, Running behind basic necessities we will never get out of it, and things will only get worse. We will have to think for the nation and not for just ourselves and families.
Wasim Akhtar Sep 26, 2012 06:30pm
The writer pointed out the true picture of poverty in Pakistan. A good governance can minimize the poverty rate in our country which is never found in recent time.
Rao Sep 26, 2012 05:59pm
That comment is terribly unfair , Yaar!,