Poverty is an international phenomenon, and in the last couple of years, the whole world has witnessed growing poverty, with exception of only a few countries, which has shown positive results. The major cause of growing poverty is wars, conflicts, international disputes, and tense geopolitics, in addition to COVID-19, and climate change.
Pakistan with no exception has also faced enhanced poverty. Although COVID-19 has not hit so hard, to some extent, it has harmed the national economy. But, geopolitics is the major cause of poverty in Pakistan. Four decades of Afghan war or unrest has an adverse impact on Pakistan’s national economy. It was expected that after the withdrawal of Foreign Troops from Afghanistan, it may transform the region more stable and peaceful, but, unfortunately, even after more than a year, the situation is not normalized yet.
Pakistan is still a victim of Afghan unrest and the price paid is rather heavy
Sanctions in Iran are not relaxed and we can procure Oil and Gas from next-door neighbors, alternatively, we still have to procure an expensive source of energy from faraway countries. Sanctions in Russia also hinder us to procure cheaper oil and gas. Pakistan depends on expensive imported energy and causing inflation and price hike.
IMF’s strict conditions also forced the Government to increase the price of fuel, electricity, and gas, resulting in the price hike of all consumer commodities, especially the food price hike has adversely impacted the masses.
The US and nations and international institutions under its influence have kept unbearable pressure on Pakistan to slow down CPEC and keep their distance from China, which is also slowing down the economic activities and generation of wealth.
Above all, domestic issues, especially political uncertainty, instability, and turmoil have an even deeper impact on the national economy. Since the last general elections held in 2018, within a period of four years, five finance misters have been changed. Asad Umar was conceived as a successful manager in the private sector, and was considered a suitable finance minister, but, very soon was replaced by Dr. Hafiz Shaikh, who is an international expert, but could not survive longer.
Then, time and again tested, Mr. Tareen was brought to rectify the economy, but with the regime change, again, it was Mr. Miftah Ismail, who became finance Minister for the second time in his career. Soon he was also replaced by Ishaq Dar, who has been proclaimed to have a magic stick to turn everything good, but, unfortunately, this time it seems that he is also not able to deliver.
Climate change has aggregated the economic crisis. First, it was so hot that temperature rose to record highs this year and causing drought and fires in several parts of Pakistan, causing huge economic losses. Then, unexpected heavy rains, caused severe floods, damaging crops, cattle, houses, and infrastructure, to a big extent. Almost one-third of Pakistan was underwater. Although the international community has extended helping hands, yet, it was not sufficient and beyond the capacity of Pakistan to bear it alone. It caused a big setback to the national economy.
Read more: Pakistan Economic Survey 2021-22 unveiled
As a result of multiple factors and reasons, the masses are victims of economic collapse. The elite or filthy rich class counts only a few percent in this country. The majority was middle-class, but, it was being pushed into poverty gradually. It is alarming that the number of people considered below the poverty line has increased tremendously. The growing inflation and price hike has pushed many white color class into a difficult situation. People are shy to share their true difficulties, but, they cannot prevail for long. Poverty is visible if you visit marketplaces and see that customers are hesitant to purchase and shopkeepers are complaining about a sharp drop in their routine sales.
I am scared, if appropriate measures are not taken in time, the field is opening toward revolution. The policymakers, the decision-makers, and the ruling class must understand the sensitivity of the situation and may intervene to rectify the situation before it is too late and then the whole nation repents.
Penetrate the masses and get to know their concerns, try your best to address genuine concerns, the sooner the better. Irrespective of the politics, the masses must be addressed and resolved their genuine issue on a priority basis.
Author: Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Founding Chair GSRRA, Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), Editor, Analyst, and Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization). (E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org). The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.