TARIQ AHMED SAEEDI (tariqsaeedi@hotmail.com)
Mar 24 - 30, 2008

The inability of the people to make available for themselves basic resources related to health, education, and shelter has been fuelling vicious cycle of poverty in Pakistan for long, which otherwise could have been immobilized times ago had it been equitable wealth of distribution; employment opportunities; subservient feudalism; economic emancipation of marginalized people; and sane market economy. Poverty has been a persistent predicament for the officially known 38 percent of the population since the inception of the Pakistan. While it has been realized that poverty can effectively be reduced through outreach of autonomous funding institution to poor or un-served population the administrative lacuna unnecessarily is increasing graph of poverty; and thus emplaces doubt over the originality of poverty phenomenon, whether it is natural or fabricated over decades?

As Pakistan is mainly the agrarian society the worst hit of poverty inflicts on farmers and households drawing on agricultural related income. The lack of collateral arrangements have kept them borrowing from conventional financial institutions and compelled them to take money from informal lenders, who often have interest rate as high as 100 percent. While every government has been trying to address the problem, the outcomes are not worth recalling. Inaccessibility to financial assistance for farming, for instance, worsens the poor circumstances and promotes population shift from rural to urban areas, which itself aggravates poverty. The inflating population inclination keeps the host location overpopulated resulting into overstretching demands for limited supply of employments, civic amenities, and social relief like recreation. Important among them is the dearth of employment opportunities that at most ignite conscious insensitivity of the persons. Like other major cities of the developing countries, Karachi is also marred with the criminal activities because of the very reason of increasing rate of unemployment. The process of urbanization and concentration of funds only on urban developments put the rustic sides as underdeveloped and create intentional marginalization of the rural people. Besides, deprivation of people of basic needs of life increases in the multitudes of social evils coupled with the economic depredation. The extreme divide in wealth distribution has a logical tendency to have sacrificed one group of people in order to cater to another.


Poverty remains a dreaded challenge for the real national economic growth. Despite government's claim of increase in per capita income in recent years the food and non-food inflation has been subject to be on parallel ebb; therefore, the payouts of increased household income could not be translated into aggregate well being of the country's fellows. The average income of about Rs. 4,500 per month for the major portion of the total work force would not budget monthly expenditures befitting fulfilment of basic needs let alone leave amount for saving that is also essential to meet contingent spends. However, the salary of few employed strata has surged at par with the rising inflation this increase benefits just a small portion of the income group. Rates of poverty, which had declined significantly in 1980s and in early 1990s, jacked up again towards the end of the decade. The acute difference in income and low per capita income is the major issue disturbing the developing nations globally; however, Pakistan has clemency of special natural endowments ranging from terrestrial resources to labour capital and in here the principal cause of poverty lies in the human made errors within administrative infrastructure as well as of wealth distribution formula. The recent last government had in its economic reforms clarified of introducing macro economic developments and propounded trickle down effects to take place after quiet awhile. At this front, the government did exactly what it claimed. But, trickle down effects of financial market reforms and other developments in macro economic factors are to rejoice by common people of the country. The top down revamping approach of last government may have produced desirable results if it steadily progresses ahead in future. The social restructuring programmes in the preceding government were not focused as much as the top line refinements such as in foreign portfolio investments in equity markets and of revenue generation techniques.


On one hand liberalized economic policies have deployed investments from abroad amass in importing foreign cultures and peripherals, the gate was opened for profit seeking goods-sellers in post 90s era on the other. So far so good, but the deliberate condoning over human social development and industrial developments and obsessive import of luxurious goods rather than core services have been ranking the country's position slightly down and down in the human development indices. Ideally, focus of the import policy should be on clinical solutions and other human development services, which our people are in dire need, instead of luxurious goods. Similarly, poverty in the country is a direct cause of minimum avenues available for the people of earning money; therefore, employment can help alleviating poverty. This could only be possible if government adheres to the good economic and social reforms of the last government and gives special privileges and incentives to the investments in manufacturing sector as well as in small and medium sized cottage industries because of value addition has the capacity to generate employments. And, industrial process not only absorbs high cost of production but it also raises numbers of exportable products. Since, Pakistan has the wage arbitrage advantage for foreign manufacturers the competency should be utilized to increase exposure of national labour force in industries.

The Government has devised poverty alleviation funds in public-private partnership programme. About seventy non government and civil society organizations of the country dole in wholesaling funds of Pakistan poverty alleviation fund, established in 1984, which is funded by World Bank and other donors. Till last month it has a resource base of US$ 1,030.17 million or Rs. 61,810.2 million. While the target populations of collaborative societal projects are rural and urban communities with emphasize on empowerment of women, the funds should in priority be invested on human development in rural areas and on bettering educational standards of the areas so that major population or those worst hit by the poverty must be brought into the mainstream economy.