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The Biggest Problems Pakistan Faces Today

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On 14th august 1947, Iqbal’s dream became a reality and The Islamic Republic of Pakistan came into being. Baba-e-qoum, Quaid-e-Azam’s hard work and diligence bore fruit. Pakistan has come a long way since then. We have seen good times as well as trials and tribulations. Unfortunately, the good times have been relatively short lived and the trials facing our country have grown massively since its inception. Pakistan today faces a plethora of social, economic and political problems. A country of a 200 million+ people which to this day is not respected in the international community. Despite tall claims from the current and previous governments, there is an apparent lack of interest in solving the challenges of today. The following are many, if not all of the examples of the problems our motherland is facing. The most important key to any country’s success is a stable government and political stability, Pakistan has failed to establish political stability and even after 71 years the country can not get out of matters of feudal, tribal and sectarian segregation. The root cause of Pakistan’s political woes lies in its feudal and the winner-take-all approach that has been practiced by successive civilian as well as military leaders. The Muslim League that brought independence to Pakistan, lacked internal democracy. The constitution-less 10-year-history from 1947 to 1956 was an ill exercise of the political players which invoked the military to interfere in politics.

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The third pillar of the State, the judiciary, could also not deliver what it should. Most of the time it has remained vulnerable. It has always provided a so-called legal cover to the dictators Another element which has vitiated democracy in Pakistan is violence in politics. The patience required for a democratic system is highly lacking in almost all the parties and their drivers.

The most important reason for political instability is our economy. It is fair to say that Pakistan’s economy has not been stable for a while now. The economic challenges faced by Pakistan become very apparent if we take a look at our neighbors: India and China. The Peoples Republic of China (PRC) gained independence roughly two years after Pakistan and since then has effectively grown into one of the world’s greatest superpowers and biggest economies. China amounts for a big chunk of world trade and in 2017 was the world’s largest exporter, exporting nearly $2. 2 trillion of its production. Based on purchasing power parity (ppp) China’s economy produced $23. 12 trillion making it the world’s largest economy leaving even the United States behind. Even our rival India is doing well, increasing its GDP at a stable average rate of 6. 13% from 1951 to 2017. Based on PPP India’s economy produced approximately $10. 3 trillion in 2018 making it the world’s third largest economy right behind the United States of America. In stark contrast Pakistan is nowhere to be seen in these ranks. Based on PPP Pakistan’s GDP ranks 25th in the world and only in 2016 did it cross the $1 trillion mark. In addition, the last fiscal year ended with a current account deficit of $18 billion, 5. 7% of the GDP. The budget deficit has crossed 2 trillion PKR and the government owes another trillion rupees in circular debt. With how things are going Pakistan faces having to go to the IMF for yet another bailout package, the country’s 13th time since it was formed. The country’s inflation rate rose from 2. 9% in 2016 to roughly 4. 1% in 2017 and then took another massive leap to 6. 8% in august 2018. Perhaps even more daunting is the fact that investor confidence has severely gone down over the last decade. A challenging security environment, electricity shortages, political instability and low levels of foreign investment have ultimately led to underdevelopment in Pakistan.

Another area Pakistan’s economy is doing poorly in is its exports, exports in 2016 were approximately $21. 71 billion which stayed the same in 2017 as well. Imports however have gone up significantly from $41. 62 billion in 2016 to approximately $48. 21 billion in 2017, which sets off the balance of trade. What’s more is that textiles and apparel account for more than half of Pakistan’s export earnings; Pakistan’s failure to diversify its exports has left the country vulnerable to shifts in world demand. Decades of inefficient economic policies, negligence and corruption have left the economy in bad shape and only recently has Pakistan made relative strides for the good of the economy, the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) being one of them.

Education is the backbone of any society but with in a country where 29. 5% of the population lives below the poverty line just how accessible is education? Pakistan boasts the lowest HDI score in South Asia, which as of 2016 is 0. 550. For some perspective, Bangladesh’s HDI is 0. 579. According to the multidimensional poverty index (MPI), 39% of Pakistan’s population lives in multidimensional poverty. 60% of Pakistanis fail to find proper food to eat. India and Bangladesh both have a lesser poverty rate than Pakistan’s with 24. 3% of the population of Bangladesh and only 21. 9% of the population of India living beneath the poverty line. This statistic is particularly shocking considering India has more than double the population size of Pakistan. The country’s wealth is concentrated, as the top 10% of the population earns 27. 6% and the bottom 10% earns just 4. 1% of the income. The once decreasing poverty rate of the 1970’s and 80’s reversed itself in the 90’s due to poor federal policies and widespread corruption. Poverty goes on to become the root cause for many other atrocities in Pakistan such as child labor, spikes in the crime rate and terrorism. Owing to the extent of poverty in our country it should not come as a surprise that Pakistan is one of the most illiterate countries of Asia. Only 87% of the Pakistani children finish primary school. Barely half of the male population in Pakistan is literate and a whopping 2/3rd of Pakistani women can’t even write their own name. Countries such as Nepal and Bangladesh should be examples for Pakistan, more than 90% of the population in both these countries is literate! There is no easy fix for illiteracy and without an educated population a country can never thrive. Pakistan now needs to focus heavily on reforming its education sector which can only be achieved through the allocation of a significant budget for education, building proper infrastructure in the form of school and college buildings, properly training school teachers to increase their professional capacity and widespread public awareness campaigns about the importance of education.

A high illiteracy rate in Pakistan goes on to become part of another great problem – Overpopulation. If Pakistan were to grow at the rate of 2% per annum as expected in 1947 the population should have been around 160 million people in 2018 not 200 million. In 1960 the population of Pakistan was 46 million and in 2018 it is approximately 200 million that’s an increase of over four times in a matter of 58 years. Pakistan is the fifth most populous country in the world amounting to 2. 63% of the total world population. The population is expected to reach 300 million by 2050. The birth rate in Pakistan (29. 8 births/1000 population) far exceeds the death rate (7. 5 deaths/1000 population) which adds to overpopulation. The governments neglect on this severe issue can be seen by the fact that before 2016 the last census was held in 1998, this lackluster attitude and a lack of awareness programs have led to no awareness amongst the general public about the dangers of overpopulation. To this day you’ll find families with 16-21 children, families pay no heed to family planning especially in rural areas where both men and women are usually illiterate.

Overpopulation in Pakistan leads to many other problems for example a shortage of food, heath facilities and education. These problems in turn lead to others such as the crime rate rising because of petty crimes, kidnapping and other illegal and immoral acts. Some people have gone as far as saying that there are no shortages in Pakistan just too many people. Overpopulation also has direct linkages to unemployment in Pakistan. As the population grows so does the labor force, hence the level of unemployment rises as more and more people fail to secure a job. More than 1 million people enter the job market each year. In 2014 unemployment was relatively low at 1. 83% and since then has steadily grown to 3. 57% in 2015 to 3. 84% in 2016 and finally 4. 04% in 2017 and is expected to rise even more this year. Unemployment can be a dangerous thing, if it persists it can lead to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression and in severe cases even suicide. Pakistan needs an industrial revolution to tackle unemployment and the role of the government is vital in doing so.

Overpopulation brings many hurdles along with it such as how to effectively setup healthcare for such a large population. Pakistan as a developing country is struggling in many fields in which the health system has suffered a lot, resulting in a 122 rank out of 190 countries in a World Health Organization performance report. Life expectancy in Pakistan is the worst throughout South Asia averaging just 66 years. Such is expected when approximately 29. 5% of the country’s population lives beneath the poverty line and the government makes little to no efforts to subsidize healthcare for the poor. Around 78% of the population pays for healthcare out of their own pockets. The care provided at government run facilities is not sufficient. The quality of healthcare in Pakistan can be judged fairly from the fact that it is one of only two countries left in the world where the polio endemic exists. The benchmark set by the WHO for expenditure on healthcare is 6% of the GDP and Pakistan only spends about 0. 5-0. 6% of its GDP on healthcare expenditure.

One of the biggest problems Pakistan is facing today, one which it has been facing for years, is its energy crisis. “Without electricity, the air would rot. ”- Ralph Waldo Emerson. This quote embodies a raw truth that drives economies in this post-industrial era. An era where nothing functions without electricity. Although, however important an asset electricity is, it is one Pakistan lacks. Contrary to claims from the government and other sources, Pakistan suffers from a massive electricity shortage. Load shedding and power blackouts for ludicrous periods of time are a norm here. There are four major power producers in the country: WAPDA (Water and power development authority), K- Electric, Independent power producers (IPP) and the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC). As it stands Pakistan’s problem is not power generation rather the distribution and transmission of the power generated. The previous government was able to increase power generation to approximately 28, 000 megawatts. The total industrial and residential demand in Pakistan peaks at about 25, 000 megawatts. So what seems to be the problem? The transmission and distribution capacity halts at 22, 000 megawatts meaning even though we can generate the power, the additional 3000 megawatts needed to meet the demand can not be transmitted. Furthermore studies show that power breakdowns have an adverse affect on GDP growth and can raise inflation and capital outflow from the country.

Despite all the problems Pakistan faces the biggest in my opinion has to be the utter distrust and hopelessness displayed by the people of Pakistan. No country can ever rise up if the people lose hope in it. This distrust has evolved through the last few decades and can be traced as far back as the presidency of Iskander Mirza as Pakistanis have gone through government after government looking for a ray of hope, something to cling onto.

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