Poverty is a significant and sensitive issue that affects many developing countries around the world. It is characterized by the inability to meet basic needs, lack of control over resources, and the need for protection, education, freedom, and a voice. People living in poverty rely on material necessities such as food and shelter, safety for their lives, and security from violence. They also desire the freedom to make their own choices and to have access to employment. There are two types of poverty: absolute poverty, where people cannot afford to meet their basic needs due to a lack of income, and relative poverty, where people can afford their basic needs but not much else. In Pakistan, both forms of poverty are present.
Poverty in Pakistan has been a persistent issue for decades, with a significant portion of the population living below the poverty line. There are several factors that contribute to the high poverty rate in Pakistan. The causes of poverty can include physical, psychological, and sociocultural factors, as well as increasing unemployment rates, lack of education, economic mismanagement, rapidly growing population, and inflation making it difficult for people to afford their needs. It is a major problem in Pakistan and has a significant impact on the country’s economy.
Economic mismanagement is one of the major factors contributing to poverty in Pakistan. The government has failed to implement policies that promote economic growth and stability. The Pakistani economy is not sufficient to meet the basic needs of its citizens. The country’s economic development is disappointing, with low levels of exports and high levels of unemployment, poverty, illness, starvation, and disappointment due to a lack of business opportunities, low wages, and poor performance in the public and private sectors, as well as low GDP. Additionally, corruption and nepotism have also played a role in hindering economic development.
Lack of access to Education and Job Opportunities is also one of the major factors contributing to poverty in Pakistan. Many citizens, particularly those living in rural areas, do not have access to equal education which limits their ability to find well-paying jobs. This lack of education and job opportunities leads to a cycle of poverty that is difficult to break. In addition, Natural disasters are also contributing significantly to poverty as floods, earthquakes, and droughts, have a divesting impact on the lives of the poor. These events can destroy crops, damage infrastructure, cause a loss of income, and lead to increased poverty.
Studies highlighted that Trade liberalization also acts as a contributing factor that raises food prices and increases global poverty. Over the past 50 years, food prices in Pakistan have reached unprecedented levels, leading to a food crisis in the country. However, the cost of food in Pakistan has been affected by unpredictable changes in prices as a result of liberalized trade. The impact of rising food prices on poverty in both rural and urban areas of Pakistan. The impact of higher global prices has two main effects: the first is the impact of increasing international food prices and the second is the impact on household expenses based on consumer consumption. Agriculture is a major contributor to the Pakistani economy, however, as the population grows rapidly, resources are becoming increasingly scarce, particularly for cereal crops. This has led to a significant increase in poverty in urban areas. If international prices continue to rise and domestic prices are also increased, it will become increasingly difficult for households to maintain their livelihoods. Trade policies, bans, and quota restrictions on imports also have a negative impact on the economy of Pakistan, contributing to a high rate of poverty in the country. According to FGT indicators, poverty has increased in urban families but not in rural families, showing that trade policies affect urban areas more significantly.
Lack of access to land for Agriculture is also an important factor that adds to poverty. Pakistan has a high level of poverty in rural areas where the majority of the poor population lives. The unequal distribution of land in Pakistan is believed to be a major cause of poverty in rural areas. The lack of land rights and security makes it difficult for rural residents to access credit, invest in their land, or make long- a term for their families. This perpetuates a cycle of poverty, making it difficult for rural residents to break out of poverty and improve their economic situation.
Therefore it is concluded that the increase in poverty in Pakistan is a result of poor governance and imbalanced wealth distribution. According to the ranking, Pakistan is among the 43rd nation most affected by poverty. The country has one of the highest levels of income inequality in the world. This causes many people to die of starvation or depression where, population growth widens the imbalance of wealth in urban and rural areas as there is a connection between inequality and development rate, where increasing wage disparity leads to increasing poverty resulting from corruption, poor functioning of institutions, terrorism, and injustice which demands impactful governance of state accompanied with smart and effective policy actions. It is recommended that,
- The state should take actions to combat poverty by creating job opportunities, launching food programs for the poor, and building free educational institutions.
- Government must formulate policies that promote equal distribution of wealth, uphold human rights, and guarantee fundamental freedoms.
- As an agrarian economy, increasing productivity in this sector can help to decline poverty.
The authors are Zainab Kubra and Sadia Riaz (Students of BS-III English) & this article is supervised by Miss Urooj Aijaz (MD IRP/ Faculty Department of H&SS, Bahria University Karachi)