Rising poverty in Pakistan


Poverty is rising in Pakistan at an alarming rate. Government of Pakistan has preferred not to reveal poverty statistics since 2006. Last officially announced figures of Poverty are 26% declared during Musharraf era. Present Government started its tenure in 2008 and since then economy is showing good progress downwards. Forex reserves are depleting fast, energy crisis has worsened, Pakistan Railways and PIA almost collapsed and record in corruption recorded.

Natural disasters, militancy, and law and order situation also contributed to the worsening situation of Poverty and Food security. Development agencies and humanitarian continued to create awareness about worsening situation of Poverty and food security. UNDP suggested that almost 49% of Pakistanis are living below poverty line. Sustainable Policy Development Institute (SDPI) also issued a report about food security situation in Pakistan and pointed out to highly food insecure regions. Despite all hue and cry from development agencies, Government preferred to remain mum over the statistics.

In 2011 Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Sheikh only gave some hint about poverty situation in Pakistan. According to his statement a 10% increase in food inflation results in 2.2% increase in Poverty. By this yardstick, Poverty was estimated to be around 43% till 2011. Benazir Income Support Program Chairman, Farzana Raja said that according to survey held by this institution almost 45% Pakistanis are living below poverty line.

Findings of BISP survey further suggested that 58% of Pakistanis are food insecure and approximately 29.6% are suffering from chronic hunger. Quite contrary to the facts some press reports suggested that Government of Pakistan is planning to announce a sharp decline in Poverty but assumingly ground realities forced Government to withdraw its fudging plans.

Now for the first time government through ministry of food has explicitly conceded that poverty is rising in the country since it came into power. Poverty statistics put forward by different development agencies suggest that there has been no serious Poverty Alleviation efforts during whole tenure of sitting Government. This has also put a big question mark on the performance of BISP, a special institution created to help poorest of poor.