While the 14th August holds a special day for a Pakistan that was built on the principals of freedom, democracy and self-governance, we find ourselves today in a situation that has been transformed from an idealistic dream into a very real nightmare.
The below figures present a brief snapshot of Pakistan’s Economic & Social Indicators
GDP $376.493 billion (nominal; 2022)
GDP growth rate The growth rate of 4% in 2022 is expected to decline to 2% in 2023.
Food Inflation rate 45.10% in February 2023
Poverty rate 37.5% in 2022
Exchange rate 1US$ = 282 KR in March 2023
Foreign reserves US$ 8.70 billion, as of February 10, 2023
External debt US$126.3 billion in December 2022
Literacy rate 58% in December 2022
Life expectancy 67.79 years in 2023
Infant mortality 55.777 deaths per 1000 live births
Health expenditures 3% of GDP in 2022
Government education expenditures 1.77% of GDP in 2022
Source: Pakistan’s macrotrends (2023); UNFPA (2022); Knoema (2022), and Pakistan’s economic survey (various issues).
The country is faced with an alarmingly growing disparity between rich and poor, crippling inflation, low foreign exchange reserves, dependence of aid and developmental organisations to keep the country afloat, poverty, crime, terrorism, a weakening currency which keeps at bay any incentive for FDI and many other factors which would fill an immeasurable quantity of newsprint.
Most Pakistanis do not have access to education, regular food, medical attention, shelter and most importantly the hope that things will improve their lot. At the same time, most of the restaurants in Pakistan’s big cities continue to be full and while there should be no criticism of people being able to spend their legally earned income, it reminds me of the Prophetic adage that a real Muslim is one who cannot sleep while his neighbour remains hungry.
It is difficult to look to the future of Pakistan without a sense of overwhelming despair and bleakness and one must really question the intentions of those who hold a position of any sort of power if they are willing to live by a central tenet of faith that one should wish for one’s brother/sister/kinsman/kinswoman that which one wishes for oneself.
A recent best-selling book entitled ‘Atomic Habits’ by James Clear studies how micro changes that one institutes in one’s life on a regular basis can have a massive impact in the long run. On this auspicious day, I would call on all of us to start making these micro-changes in our lives with the sincere intention of a betterment for all our brother and sister fellow Pakistanis.