PAKISTAN- A JUNGLE OF PROBLEMS
PROF. SAEED AHMAD SIDDIQUI
Sep 24 - 30, 2012
After the birth, passing through his adolescent and childhood, when a person steps in youth he wants to see the environment around him the same as he was seeing before. In other words, the parents protected him from all the problems and provided him an utopian life. He wants to have a problem free luxurious life to lead. But soon he comes out of this illusion because the real life is quite opposite to his dream. He sees himself surround by a jungle of problems including social, economic, legal, political spiritual and a long chains of allied problems.
The human issues can broadly be divided into two categories; social problems and economic problems. There are some specific social circumstances which are gradually converted into a curse. Generally, the social needs with which the people are confronted with all the times but they can't be satisfied due to financial constraints and so they are gradually converted into social problems. The important and main issues of the society are directly or indirectly attached with the basic needs of life. If the basic human needs of food, shelter and cloth are not satisfied properly, they are gradually turned into social curses. As far as Pakistan, it is the fact that we are a developing country thereby there should be no wonder that Pakistan is entangled into various social and economic problems. The real issue is not the existence of these problems because no country of the world is the utopian country. Every country has the set of socio economic problems of its own. In other words, no country is free from these problems. The real issue of these problems in Pakistan is their extension and intensity which are toughing the alarming sign. Some economic problems are referred here which the open challenge for socio-economic scientists:
1. ENERGY CRISIS: Economic prosperity guarantees the prosperity of entire economy in all directions. This is the reason that all the develop developed countries are economically sound. When the people become free from the worry of earning of livelihood they divert their attention towards more useful aspects of life. Attention is focused on education, health and the production technology which can guarantee more luxurious life. Depressed economic condition is the root cause of all economic problems. Unfortunately, the economic condition of Pakistan is precarious and hopeless. Energy crisis is the main hurdle for economic development. Outdated technology and 'war on terror' has given the final blow to the economy of Pakistan.
2. FALL OF BUSINESS: All the industries which were important contributors to national GDP have almost closed due to so called 'war on terror' and energy crisis in Pakistan. Sugar, cement and shoe making industries are declining fast. Textile industry is counting its last breaths. Foreign investors are hesitant to invest their capital in Pakistan. They have the problems of their own like acquiring license and work permit to open their office here, energy crisis, terrorism and declining exports. Multi-national companies are not inclined to open their office and to give their franchise in Pakistan. More than 70% multinational companies are either planning or have closed their business in Pakistan.
3. TUMBLING STOCK MARKETS: Stock exchanges are also indicating the downward trend of economy of Pakistan. Instable political environment, worse dictatorship and ineffective democracy have badly impacted all the three stock exchanges of the country. During 2011 and 2012, Karachi Stock Exchange fell many times to the lowest point in its history. Both local and foreign investors, under the fear of expected losses, are not prepared to invest in stock exchange. Efficiency of stock exchanges is extremely hopeless. Recovery state of stocks is also unsatisfactory. In the past, whenever stock exchanges used to be plunged in problem, they used to recover in days or weeks but now the share prices fall nose down and take a long time to earn profit.
4. UNPRECEDENTED INFLATION: Inflation in Pakistan had never been reached to double digit but during recent years it has been unprecedented. Prices of all consumer goods and particularly the food items have been increasing tremendously fast. During first quarter of 2009, Inflationary rate reached to the extent of 18.85% and the State Bank of Pakistan had to adopt tight monetary policy to control. Cost of production is increasing due to many reasons. There are two main reasons of hyper inflation in Pakistan; first constant increase in the international prices of oil and second, disturbed and non-congenial business environment. Both Consumer Price Index (CPI) and Wholesale Price Index (WPI) have stuck up at high level. On the contrary, purchasing power of the masses is going down day by day.
5. FALL OF TOURISM INDUSTRY: Northern areas of Pakistan are highly attractive for tourists. Flowing water falls, beautiful mountains, lush green valleys attracts the tourists from all over the world. The foreign tourists were the important source of foreign exchange. Tourism industry of Pakistan was a booming industry. In addition to foreign exchange, this industry was also providing employment to the unemployed people of this area. Tourism industry was also a significant source of creating friendly bonds with other countries but 'war on terror' has smashed this industry. Local and foreign media has imparted upon the image of Pakistan as unsafe and terrorist country. The deteriorating condition of peace and order has terrorized the tourists due to which Northern parts of Pakistan have become empty from the tourists.
6. HUGE MIGRATION OF LOCAL PEOPLE: As consequence of 'war on terror', people from war ridden areas are migrating on the large scale to the urban areas of Pakistan. They have left behind their houses, cattle, business, belongings and property unsafe and unclaimed. Huge migration of the people and their rehabilitation is an unbearable economic burden on the Government of Pakistan. Urban areas have already been suffering from mass unemployment and these immigrants are adding fuel to the fire. Incoming people are consuming national income rather to add it. Unproductive population, therefore, is a very serious problem for Pakistan.
Apart from these economic problems, there are some social issues which have broken the backbone of the economy of Pakistan:
SOCIAL PROBLEMS: Right from its inception, Pakistan has been facing different social problems. The social problems faced in the beginning included shortage of funds, damaged infra-structure and rehabilitation of flooded refugees from India. Quid-e-Azam, focusing on these issues, concentrated the government efforts to solve them but expected results could not be achieved due to his sudden death. Incoming governments did not pay due attention for solving the problems and so with the passage of time they continued to multiply. The classified picture of these social issues is given here:
1. LAWLESSNESS: The current biggest problem of Pakistan is distorted law and order condition. Terrorism has become a constant headache for federation and a nightmare for common man. Despite the large security measures taken in the cosmopolitan cities, government has miserably failed to control terrorism. People are seen raising question that what is their fault for which they are being punished by terrorists? The people are being shot daily like birds and bomb blasts have become the rule of the day. No mosque, educational institution, market, hotel and office is out of reach of these terrorists.
2.POVERTY: Apart from terrorism, a chronic and wide spread social problem is poverty of the masses. Approximately 70% of population lives in rural areas having no basic necessities of life even. They remain busy in making efforts for two times meal. Dominant part of the total population is living below poverty line. The common problems of the masses are food deficiency, lack of shelter and cloth, inadequate and poor health and sanitation facilities, shortage of clean drinking water etc. Poverty itself is the root cause of various social problems. Poverty suffering people are not capable to provide proper education and health care to their children. Deprivation from the proper livelihood creates criminals and this is the reason that news papers are filled with the crime stories of looting, robbery, dacoit, murders etc.
3. ILLITERACY: Illiteracy is also a social problem. According to statistical information provided by the government agencies, the literacy rate of Pakistan is 56% including those also who can simply read and write urdu. High birth rate is decreasing literacy rate further. The ratio of students acquiring admission at primary level is also decreasing. Approximately, 50% of children do not complete even their primary level education. Illiterate youth contribute nothing to the national income. Despite huge expenditure, Pakistan has not become compatible in the field of education with other Asian countries. Private sector, in this behalf, is playing praiseworthy role nevertheless private sector is after minting money rather to provide education. Since the object of private schools and colleges is earning money therefore, quality education is not being imparted.
4. CORRUPTION: Right from the clerical staff in the offices to high officials including bureaucracy more or less all are corrupt. Corruption in the government office is so deep rooted that no honest person can survive there because honesty is considered as sin. Since no concept of accountability prevails therefore rich and those who are in power do not think that they are accountable for their sinful deeds before anyone. Consequently, they are constantly busy in looting and depositing national wealth in foreign banks. They also succeed in converting the black money into white through illegal techniques.
5. UNEMPLOYMENT: Unemployment is also a serious social issue of Pakistan. The dominant part of population comprises energetic youth desiring to work but employment opportunities are bleak. In accordance with the state figures, rate of unemployment is 7.4% but private agencies' figures tell that it is 12%. There are various reasons of unemployment in Pakistan like influx of modern and sophisticated machines which replaced the manpower, non-establishment of new industries and defective education system. Educated and trained persons who don't find jobs here are migrated abroad. The unemployed youth involve themselves in different criminal acts.
6. CHILD LABOR: Child labor is wide spread in Pakistan. Children are seen in all small and big cities working on different jobs as welders, plumbers, electricians, carpet weavers and bangle makers. The child workers are paid extremely low without health care facilities. In the past, some countries imposed embargo on importing goods from the countries child labor was being used in production process. But rapidly growing poverty and population compel the parents to send their children in the factories to work.
These are a few socio-economic problems that are faced by Pakistan. Rapidly growing population has been the real issue for all the governments because it is very difficult to cater the needs of fast growing population with meager resources. People are the victim of prominent economic disparity and are committing suicide under the pressure of poverty and hunger. On the contrary, rich are fanatically busy in collecting and depositing wealth in foreign banks.
SOLUTIONS: Different governments made utmost efforts to solve these socio economic problems but they are so widely spread and deeply rooted that they could not completely be solved. For solving a problem, The government concentrates on one aspect but other is neglected. For instance, security measures are taken on the large scale in cosmopolitan cities but the borders of the country are left open for illegal influx of weapons. Acids, explosives and other destructive materials are easily available in the market at very low price. Ministers and high officials have armed guards and squads but nothing is done for the security of common masses. Markets, roads, parks, shopping centers and bus stops are not safe from the terrorists attack. The government, for controlling terrorism in Pakistan, should end the proxy war in favor of America.
For exercising tight control on corruption, the institutions like NAB and FIA should be made strong through extending their authority. Culprits should not be given openings to escape and be punished severely. They should not only be punished but whatever wealth they have looted should be brought back and be spent on the welfare of people. Judiciary should be made completely free. During the recent past, Judiciary of Pakistan has passed through a pleasing experience of freedom in its whole history. Judiciary of Pakistan, no doubt, is free and more powerful but we will have to wait for the positive results of this freedom.
Poverty alleviation must be the first priority of the government. Cottage industries and self business should be promoted. Agriculture is the backbone of the economy of Pakistan therefore it should be made strong through providing easy and timely credit. Children in villages should be provided free education. Inflation should be controlled and all utmost efforts should be made for improving living standard in general.
Elimination of energy crisis is a must for overall economic development. For serving this purpose, new dams will have to be constructed coupled with search of new methods of power generation.