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POVERTY IN PAKISTAN:
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.
LET START FROM the time of partition and independence in 1947, Pakistan inherited the most backward parts of South Asia with only one university, one Textile Mill and one Jute Factory. The country has made tremendous progress and its per Capita GNP remains the highest in South Asia.Poverty in Pakistan has historically been higher in rural areas and lower in the cities. Out of the total 40 million living below the poverty line, 30 million live in rural areas.
Poverty rose sharply in the rural areas in the 1990s and the gap in income between urban and rural areas of the country became more significant. This trend has been attributed to a disproportionate impact of economic events in the rural and urban areas.
Punjab also has significant gradients in poverty among the different regions of the province.
The North West Frontier Province of Pakistan was one of the most backward regions of the South Asian Subcontinent.
So many Factors also play a role in Poverty .
Pakistan is home to a large feudal landholding system where landholding families hold thousands of acres and do little work on the agriculture themselves. They enlist the services of their serfs to perform the labor of the land. 51% of poor tenants owe money to the landlords. The landlords’ position of power allows them to exploit the only resource the poor can possibly provide: their own labor.
Poverty and Gender :
The gender discriminatory practices in Pakistani society also shape the distribution of poverty in the country. Traditional gender roles in Pakistan define the woman’s place as in the home and not in the workplace, and define the man as the breadwinner. Consequently, the society invests far less in women than men. Women in Pakistan suffer from poverty of opportunities throughout their lives. Female literacy in Pakistan is 43.6% compared to Male literacy at 68.2%, as of 2008. In legislative bodies, women constituted less than 3% of the legislature elected on general seats before 2002. The 1973 Constitution allowed reserved seats for women in both houses of parliament for a period of 20 years, thus ensuring that women would be represented in parliament regardless of whether or not they are elected on general seats. This provision lapsed in 1993, so parliaments elected subsequently did not have reserved seats for women. Reserved seats for women have been restored after the election of 2002 .
Economic and social vulnerability:
Economic vulnerability is a key factor in the rise of poverty in Pakistan, vulnerability also arises from social powerlessness, political disenfranchisement, and ill-functioning and distortionary institutions, and these also are important causes of the persistence of vulnerability among the poor.
Other causes of vulnerability in Pakistan
1.Harassment by corrupt government officials, as well as their underperformance
2.Exclusion and denial of basic rights to many in Pakistan.
3.Lack of adequate health care by the state lead the poor to seek private sources, which are expensive, but still preferable to the possibility of medical malpractice and being given expired medicines in state run medical facilities.
4.The failure by the state to provide adequate law and order in many parts of the country is a factor in the rise of vulnerability of the poor.
Enviornmental Issue :
Enviornmental problems such as erosion, use of agro-chemicals, deforestation etc. contribute to rising poverty in Pakistan. Increasing pollution contributes to increasing risk of toxicity, and poor industrial standards in the country contribute to rising pollution.
Lack of adequate governance:
By the end of the 1990s, the manner in which power is exercised in the management of a country’s social and economic resources for development emerged as Pakistan’s foremost developmental problem. Corruption and political instabilities such as various separatist movements in Balochistan and Waziristan resulted in reduction of business confidence, deterioration of economic growth, reduced public expenditure, poor delivery of public services, and undermining of the rule of law.
Pakistan has been run by military dictatorships for large periods of time, alternating with limited democracy.
In addition, Pakistan’s major cities and urban centres are home to an estimated 1.2 million street children. This includes beggars and scavengers who are often very young. The law and order problem worsens their condition as boys and girls are fair game to others who would force them into stealing, scavenging and smuggling to survive. A large proportion consumes readily available solvents to starve off hunger, loneliness and fear. Children are vulnerable to contracting STDs such as HIV/AIDS, as well as other diseases.
Inequality and natural disasters:
Around 95% of Pakistani citizens polled that they have a fear of complete breakdown of the country’s economy which could ultimately lead to the break of the country. As compared to China, the rate of increase in poverty and unemployment is very high in Pakistan. Recently, Pakistani media led a thorough coverage of how Pakistan’s military was holding a large part of the pie of Pakistan’s over all GDP, which has intensified the feeling of limited competition in Pakistani public.
Furqan Ali Khan
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