The socio-economic problems of Pakistan are massive in scale and disastrous in intensity. The social hiccups range from exponential growth of population to rising rate of illiteracy, unbridled inflation to deep rooted poverty. The country faces worst form of terrorism fanned religious intolerance and sectarianism. The covert foreign involvement has aggravated the problem. Ethnic discords and polarization of nation on lingual differences has complicated the issues.
Besides aforementioned crisis the country is gripped by gender discrimination and general apathy towards women issues. This “land of pure” witnesses child labor, non-recognition of third gender and violation of basic human rights. Moreover, feudalism and totalitarianism has deprived millions of people from their basic human rights as they are not considered equal citizens of the country with equal rights, but peasants or subjects.
The economic problems and social problems of Pakistan are complex in nature. Average wage is among the lowest in the world, but unemployment rate is sky high. Low agricultural yield and nominal industrial products resulted in inflation and poverty. Investment; both local and foreign have decreased in the last decade and it seems improbable that trend will be changed in the near future. The low agricultural and industrial productivity have put the economy at the brink of collapse. Where rest of the world has become great advancements in technology, Pakistan has not been able to plant its feet on the tech-based industry. The trade gap between import and export is incessantly increasing. Besides that, world economic crunch also slowed down the Pakistani economic growth. All these factors have put a drastic effect on the lives of people, but it is still insufficient to ring any alarm bells at the power corridors.
The aforementioned problems have not propped up overnight, nor any single person or regime in responsible for the awful situation in which Pakistan is in. The situation has matured over a period of decades under successive governments whether democratic or authoritative. The culture of shirking responsibilities and putting the burden on the previous government sowed what is cultivated today in Pakistan.
The consequences are always generated by the causes. The first and foremost cause of poor socio-economic condition of Pakistan is bad governance and mismanagement on the part of authorities at power corridors. The only difference between a developed and developing country is how a particular country use its resources. The developed countries have progressed because of proper management and utilization of available resources.
The government without vision, as a principle, ought not to be put in power. Unfortunately, during the last six decades after Jinnah and Liaqat Ali Khan, Pakistan failed to produce a visionary leader. Whoever came; came without any specific agenda and direction. Politicians invariably relied on occasional doses for momentary relief in the form of loans, grants, and other unproductive schemes. Not a single government introduced concrete steps that would have cemented the foundation of country on which their successors could have built the remaining structure. When the motto of getting power is to loot and plunder, vision dies.
Lack of planning is another factor which is also related to vision. Vision and planning go side by side. In Pakistan, ruefully, plans are made but not executed and if executed, then in a haphazard manner. Even strategies are devised in an inconsistent way and every new government abandons not only policies but also projects undertaken by the previous government.
Rampant corruption and nepotism have destroyed the foundations of Pakistan. These problems are deep rooted and chronic and have penetrated into every social structure. It has become so unbridled that even if honest efforts are made, even then it would take years to control this menace. The funds allocated for development projects are adjusted on paper, but not spent on site. Each and every department of the country is plagued by corruption. This is corroborated from the poor standing of Pakistan on Corruption Perception Index.
Besides corruption and mismanagement, unchecked exploitation of natural and monetary resources produces socio-economic pressures. The funds spent on projects which are unproductive weights down the national exchequer, creating shortage of resources for more productive and useful schemes. The natural resources, like gas which is being used as a fuel in automobiles may create ease for some time, but its adverse impact on industry and economy are far reaching and over-arching. The exploitation of metals from resource rich, but poverty stricken province of Baluchistan must be valued properly instead of selling the mines at throw away price.
The flawed electoral system which is tilted in favour of landlords, feudal master and rich industrialist has thwarted the cause of common people. How can a person who is elected after spending a fortune is expected to raise the voice for common people instead of following his personal agenda?
The causes of economic problems of Pakistan are not only same as that of social problems but are also inter-linked. The escalating terrorism has reduced foreign direct investment (FDI) as well as local investment to a record low level. The investors both foreign and local are afraid of the uncertain conditions in Pakistan and have shifted their money towards other countries having conducive environment for investment and business.
The lack of investment and trade imbalance flush out foreign reserves which are bridged by debts from international donor agencies on high interest rates. By depending on foreign loans, Pakistan has not only compromised its ability to adopt independent foreign and domestic policies, but also a major chunk of GDP is spent on debt servicing every year which is further worsening the situation.
The widening trade gap between the imports and exports is a serious economic issue and requires immediate attention of the policy makers. The oil bill and import of heavy machinery consumes heft amount annually putting pressure of rupee which slumps against foreign currencies and ultimately depreciates. The depreciation of rupee causes inflation and price hike therefore putting things, even basic food items, beyond the reach of common people.
Tax evasion is a common practice in Pakistan. The government generates most of its revenues from indirect taxation, which is equal for the rich and the poor. Tax to GDP ratio is merely 10% which is lowest in the region. In a population of about 20 million, only around 8 lac pay direct taxation. As a result, the revenue generated is far less than the expenses of the government. This gap is bridged through foreign and local loans and by printing new currency notes, triggering inflation.
An acute energy crisis has swallowed the whole economic development of Pakistan. Every sector, be it industrial, domestic or educational has suffered because of the crisis. The crisis has hindered the economic growth of the country.
Every problem has a solution, as every lock has a key. The socio-economic problems of Pakistan are though gigantic but curable. The deteriorated situation can be ameliorated by taking immediate, hard decisions. The situation needs continuous, persistent, honest hard work by the rulers as well the subjects.
Rule of law is the foundation of social and economic justice. Neither individual nor nation can become successful if they do not abide by the rules and regulations of the state and society. No one is above law. The policy of acquitting the powerful and trying the poor must be stopped. Each and everyone should be treated equally. This would build confidence of people on the system and many problems would automatically be solved if people have trust and confidence in the system.
Meritocracy is the only code of conduct in progressive societies. Right person for the right jobs and right job for the right person. The curse of nepotism must be ended. A competent person completes the task efficiently thereby promoting social and economic development.
Corruption must be abolished if social and economic problems of Pakistan are to be cured. A well planned and coordinated effort must be made to uproot the culture of corruption from the society. For any meaningful change, reforms flow from top to bottom.
Literacy is the key to success. Great nations win without wars. Throughout the history, the most powerful countries were the ones which laid stress on knowledge and information. Currently, the Western countries are ruling the world, both socially and economical, on the basis of their education and technology. Pakistan has to improve its literacy rate and quality of education to alleviate social-economic problems.
Law and order situation has to be improved to attract local and foreign investment in Pakistan. Terrorism has caused the evaporation of investment from the country. Peace is pre-requisite of development and prosperity. No stone be unturned to get rid of the curse of terrorism, sectarianism and intolerance.
The political stability and maturity in democratic system of government is imperative. Unfortunately Pakistan political system has remained unstable, in fact, gave way to military to take over four times in its short history. Since independence, the political musical chair between democratic and military governments has hampered the social and economic development of Pakistan. This trend has to be abandoned. The political forces, either in government in opposition, should world in collaboration for the welfare of their people and prosperity of the country. The political instability sends negative message to the international community and bars the leaders to work for the cause of people.
The government should work closely with international partners to provide conducive environment local and foreign investors. There is a need for character and capacity building of government officials so that they can effectively collaborate and guide the investors as well as protect the interest of government in allocating developmental and investment funds for maximum benefits and safe returns.
A close collaboration and coordination mechanism must be devised for the government departments and non-government organizations so that maximum output can be gained from inputs. A strong inter-department coordination is essential for the implementation of sound government policies.
Most of the poor’s and needy are clustered in rural areas of the country. The government should devise a comprehensive plan to uplift the socio-economic condition of rural people through providing easy loans for starting small businesses so that people can be self-sufficient. Rural health and education plans; rural poverty alleviation and other welfare projects can improve socio-economic condition of majority of citizens.
Freedom of expression is of crucial importance these days. The people must be given the freedom to raise their voice to highlight their grievances or concerns. The role of media is crucial in this respect. Needless to observe that media must also remain within reasonable restrictions imposed by law.
Women, who constitute more than half of the population of Pakistan, should be empowered. Women should work, stand and struggle alongside men for progress and prosperity of the country. Women must be as independent as are their male counterparts and must enjoy same rights and responsibilities. Their collective effort can turn the apathy into productivity.
In progressive societies minorities enjoy complete security and full rights as citizen of the country. It is duly of the government to protect the lives and properties of minorities from radical and extremist factions of the society.
National integration can play vital role in development of the country. The sense of nationalism should be promoted instead of provincialism and parochialism. Polarization on the basis of language, cultures, customs and ethnicity, should be discouraged.
To increase agricultural yield and industrial productivity, the technological advancements have to be utilized. The per capita income of Pakistan can be increased dramatically through the use of modern technologies in agriculture and industry.
The difference between progress of a country or social and economic problems is discipline. It is high the time to get ourselves disciplined and show commitment to our country. All problems would be solved if collective efforts are made in a disciplined manner. Each and every individual has to fulfill its responsibility towards country. The individual interests must not shadow the national interest. A concerned effort conceived with honesty and wisdom would change the whole scenario of apathy and disgust into progress, prosperity and development. That day is not far away when Pakistan will stand aloof from its present day problems of multiple dimensions, with full glory and honour.