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Poverty in Pakistan

Poverty exists where people lack the means to satisfy their basic needs. Immediately the first question which comes to mind is “what are the basic needs”?

Some define basic needs as: “needs which are necessary for survival”.

Others define it as:  “needs which are necessary to maintain the prevailing standards of living”.

Whatever is the definition of basic needs, poverty results in poor levels of education and skills, poor health, ignorance and inability to make a living.

Pakistan has a population of 160 Million. About 40% of its population lives below or close to the poverty line (source: UNDP 2002). It means two out of five Pakistanis do not have the resources to earn a decent living, for themselves and their families, and are also denied access to adequate food, clean water, education, healthcare and unfortunately, even basic human rights.

Poverty of 60 million people is certainly a huge issue. Large number of studies have been done, solutions proposed, policies adopted, huge amounts of loan taken by the government in the name of poverty alleviation and numerous programs and projects launched for eradicating poverty.

There is no doubt that Pakistan has made a huge progress starting from its humble origin with millions of refugees, almost no industries and even no hard cash to pay government salaries. But in the words of Dr. Ishrat Hussain

“Pakistan’s economic record for the past fifty years (at the time of writing) is both impressive and disappointing.

While there is an impressive increase in the overall wealth, measured by GDP, but the distribution of this wealth is disappointing. In an interview to Marketing Review in October 2005, he said:

It is true that the top 20% of the household get 50% of the total income and the bottom 20% of the household get merely 7%. So to that extent it is true that the ratio is tilted towards high income bracket household

The purpose of this section is to discuss ‘poverty in Pakistan’. Although we will look at and discuss both MACRO and MICRO factors, but our approach is to help reduce the incidence of poverty around us: in our family, our neighborhood and our place of work.


Back to> Issues: Overview


How world bank loans create poverty instead of eliminating it, a letter by Arif Hasan

Can technology eliminate poverty?, Interview with Noble Prize winner Dr. Muhammad Yunus


What is the root cause of poverty in our society?

Which organizations are active in Pakistan?

Where can you get more information?


Facts and Figures

How much does Pakistan spend on Military, Health and Sanitation?













Section Editor: Saif Manzoor


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