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Old Sunday, November 11, 2012
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Social Challenges of Pakistan



Pakistan did not adequately invest in its people. Such underinvestment is directly responsible for the poor social and economic statistics. It has made limited progress on poverty and health indicators. Similarly its education outcomes remain below those of other countries at similar levels of development.



Pakistan is a country of about 180 million people, full of natural resources and more than 63 years of independence, but still not respected in the world community. In less than 30 years of independence, its one wing got separated and emerged as Bangladesh on the world map. Since its inception, Pakistan is dependent on World Bank, IMF and foreign donations. Majority of the population is living in rural areas and is deprived of the basic supplies of life. It is a country where financial gap between rich and poor is widening day by day.

Despite being rich in natural resources, Pakistan is a developing country with very limited development in every field due to a horde of problems being faced by it. Almost every kind of problem exists in Pakistan ranging from deterioration of economy, electricity load-shedding, inadequate educational facilities, insufficient health facilities, sky-rocketing inflation, extremism, injustice, increasing crime rate and non provision of drinkable water in many parts of the country.

According to an analysis of the government of Pakistan, the poverty has increased roughly from 30% to 40% during the past decade. According to the definition of literacy i.e. persons aged 15 or above who can “read” and “write” Pakistan officially reported to have 50 % literacy rate, which shows that half of its population is illiterate. The point to be pondered here is that 40% of the total population of the country is living below the poverty line which means that they are deprived of basic necessities of life such as food, shelter, clothes, thus there is no question of education and medication for them. Such families are fighting for their survival only. With such family backgrounds in the country, the rate of inflation, poverty, crime and child labour is expected to be increased in future.
Terrorism and extremism is increasing in Pakistan for the last 10 years. Therefore whatever is happening in the world, it is considered even before investigations that it might have been a link with Pakistan. The whole world looks at Pakistan as a land of terrorists.
Further a Pakistani termed as “Literate” (only able to read and write), is still taken as illiterate in today's technology-oriented world. It is general observation that majority of top position holders are almost not comfortable with latest technologies and technical mindset. Thus, causing the country to adopt the new technologies at a snail's pace. Education is not treated as a priority and inevitably child exploitation continues within our nation. Most people in the rural areas have no access to educational institutions. Pakistan does not have sound educational system under which a child can be adequately socialized into becoming a productive member of society.

Pakistan is also facing a health crisis due to insufficient health facilities with rising rates of hepatitis, diabetes, heart disease, and other non-communicable diseases. This situation worsens during natural calamity. The World Health Organization (WHO) reported 4 million cases of diarrhea, pneumonia, malaria, and skin conditions that had largely resulted from the flood conditions. Cholera outbreaks have also been reported from flood-affected areas.



Electricity shortage is another major social problem Pakistan is facing today. There are around 16 independent power producers that contribute significantly in electricity generation in Pakistan. For many years, the issue of balancing Pakistan's supply against the demand for electricity remained unresolved. Pakistan is facing a considerable challenge in restoring its network responsible for the delivering of electricity. In recent years Pakistan has shrunk by 50% in electricity generation. Resultantly load-shedding (deliberate blackouts), and power blackouts have become severe in the country. It is said that the main problem with Pakistan's poor power generation is the non-existence of the political will.

Another social challenge and highly destructive phenomenon in Pakistan is of terrorism. Terrorism and extremism is increasing in Pakistan for the last 10 years. Therefore, whatever is happening in the world, it is considered even before investigations that it might have been a link with Pakistan. The whole world looks at Pakistan as a land of terrorists.

The Pakistani army in 2004 launched a pursuit of Al-Qaeda members in the mountainous area of Waziristan on the Afghan border, although sceptics question the sincerity of this pursuit. Clashes there erupted into a low-level conflict with Islamic militants and local tribesmen, sparking a war in Waziristan. A short-lived truce, known as the Waziristan accord, was brokered in September 2006, which indicated Pakistan's reluctance to fight Islamic militia.

Terrorist attacks staged in Pakistan have killed over 35,000 people, 5,000 of which are law enforcement personnel. On the other hand, the material damage caused to the Pakistani economy is about $67 billion. Pakistan has an estimated 2 % growth rate which for a country of official population of 180 million turns out to be roughly around 3.2 million every year. This is a big dent to the economy of Pakistan and hinders the progress of every fileld.
One of the biggest challenges to the country is the ever-growing population and absence of any focused measures to control it.
One of the biggest challenges to the country is the ever growing population and absence of any focused measures to control it. It is predicted that by the year 2050, Pakistan will be the third most populated nation in the world. This alarming growth rate is causing immense pressure on head of the families who are to support them. As it has been previously mentioned that about 40 % of the population is living below the poverty line and 5.6 % (official figures) of the population is unemployed, the ever-growing population of Pakistan is just adding to the problems of the already under pressure nation.

At the time of partition, Pakistan had 30 million people with per capita income of $100. Agriculture accounted for almost 50 % of the economic output with hardly any manufacturing, as all industries were located in India. Therefore, it was unable to feed 30 million people and the country has to depend on imports. This process carried on and today out of every hundred rupees of our national income, we consume 85 rupees and save only 15 rupees. Thus, a very small amount of money is available to invest for economic growth and advancement. Further due to the instability of political system and terrorism in the country foreign investment is also negligible.

In 1990, Pakistan's share in the world trade was 0.2% which has shrunk to 0.12% within 20 years. On the other hand, world trade has been growing faster as compared to the world output. Therefore, the Pakistan's exports/imports imbalance is increasing. Another important reason for imbalance between import and export is that Pakistan is focusing on limited commodities for export including rice, textiles, leather, sports and the surgical goods only and paying attention to a few markets i.e. Middle East, EU, USA and UK. The biggest challenge for the survival of the country in today's world is to increase the investment amount, find new markets, improve the qualities of its products and add new commodities in the list of export goods.
Half of government expenditures are dedicated to fulfill debt repayment compulsions. In order to make these payments, every year additional loans and grants are indispensable which amount to approximately 25 per cent of the revenues.
Pakistan's another extremely large dilemma is the ever-increasing debt. The debt is mounting up mainly, due to the large spending on military and imbalance of import-export, dependence on foreign oil and other imported fossil fuels, etc. These resources are used primarily for the generation of power. Half of government expenditures are dedicated to fulfill debt repayment compulsions. In order to make these payments, every year additional loans and grants are indispensable which amount to approximately 25 per cent of the revenues. This exercise averts Pakistan to allocate considerable funds to economic development and social improvements.

One of the social concerns within Pakistan is child labour which is considered a violation of human rights by the United Nations. In Pakistan a poor child, believed to be an earning hand for the family is easily deprived of right of basic education. Child labour is not practiced in Pakistan only but it exploits the children in all the third world countries also, as they are a cheap source of labour. According to the Federal Bureau of Statistics of Pakistan, 3.3 million out of 40 million children are working in various industries, though child labour is strictly prohibited by law. Child Labour is a serious social problem within Pakistan because the future and progress of any country depends on an educated and enlightened youth and if a child is not properly socialized then he/she will not be able to grow as confident and literate Pakistani citizen. Need of the hour is that government, NGOs and civil society should come forward to deal with the situation properly.

Pakistan did not adequately invest in its people. Such underinvestment is directly responsible for the poor social and economic statistics. It has made limited progress on poverty and health indicators. Similarly its education outcomes remain below those of other countries at similar levels of development. Thus it can be concluded that Pakistan’s performance in achieving human development goals is uneven, therefore its social challenges are increasing day by day.


Dr. Anjum Zia
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