About Poverty in Pakistan

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Poverty in Pakistan has remained one of the country's major threats. Over the years, measures have been developed to address how to eradicate or lessen the country's growing levels of poverty. Poverty has been linked to numerous factors that have either directly or indirectly exacerbated Pakistan's situation. Poverty levels in countries continue to be a source of concern for social scientists, policymakers, and leaders since they limit people's access to fundamental requirements.  An estimated 12 million people in Pakistan were regarded to be living in poverty with rise in poverty levels being attributed to slow economic growth, poor governance among other reasons. Poverty in Pakistan has, however, presented a special case due to high numbers being poverty while different agencies, both private and government focused on establishing lasting solutions to this menace.

Keywords: Poverty, Pakistan effects of poverty, education system terrorism GDP social and psychological issues of poverty


Poverty can be simplified as the condition whereby people lack the means to afford basic human needs, i.e., health care, clean water, nutrition, clothing and shelter among others. On the other hand, poverty can be referred to a situation or condition whereby people within a nation or a society experience less income and fewer resources than others, compared to global average or the minimum acceptable amounts (Poverty in Pakistan 2017). Taking the case of Pakistan, poverty remains one of the major social problems facing the citizens. Not only has it remained an important issue for Pakistanis, but also for the rest of the globe. Poverty is linked to different other social problems such as corruption, injustice increased crime rate, bribe etc.

Terminal Life: Pakistan's Street Working Children (2017) highlights the facts that, not only poverty is dependent on peoples income, but also access to services such as information, education, sanitation, facilities, health and security among others. Poverty is defined by lack of resources for the people for them to make sustainable livelihood. Pakistan as a country has been in existence for over 60 years, and the country has gone through an evolution since. Since the partition occurrence, a good number of Pakistanis lost their livelihood and in turn embarking on reconstructing their lives from scratch. According to Poverty in Pakistan 2017), poverty has been identified as a major barrier to individuals and national prosperity in the world. An estimated 60% of the Pakistan population live in villages and the poverty menace have increased from 29% to 39% over the past one decade. This means that, and estimated 39% of the Pakistanis population is living below the poverty line and in such a scenario, people are deprived access to basic necessities (Akhtar, Liu & Ali, 2017). Their survival has become the main focus, as instead of sending children to school, child labor is taken as the option to help and assist in lifting the family lives.

Fig 1.1 factors and imspct of poverty (Hyder & Sadiq, 2010)

Pakistan is one of the nations that are regarded as an underdeveloped country. This is due to its poorly performing economic platform. This has in turn subjected the Pakistanis to objects life cases with a host of problems facing them such as use of substance among the youth (Terminal Life: Pakistan's Street Working Children 2017). According to Akhtar et al, (2017), poverty has been related to increased cases of negative attitude and perspective. People in poverty show low level of confidence in terms of theory's own ability to survive and succeed. Poor communities have been known to record higher risks to psychological and mental problems such as depression, substance use, anxiety, as well as being a causal factor behind stress and other related psychological problems. Additionally, poverty during childhood development has a negative effect on child cognitive development and neurological activity, this has in turn affected the future well-being of Pakistanis, subjecting into more misery, and psychological related problems in their later life (Terminal Life: Pakistan's Street Working Children, 2017). With reference to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, poverty is defined as a barrier in how needs can go unmet, which in turn disallows an individual’s rise up the hierarchy to higher levels of motivation. Not only does poverty endanger and affect a person’s life, but it is also a disservice to communities, as well as to people’s ability and potential to become a greater global civilization.

Being an Islamic community, Pakistan lives in accordance to the teaching of the Islamic religion and its way of life. Pakistan people are made up of the Punjabi, Muhajir, Baloch, Sindhi and Pashtun (Pathan) (Fair et al, 2016). One of the cultural aspects that has been related to poverty in Pakistan is the fact that, the culture is male dominated, the role of women in the society is in turn undermined or reduced compared to their male. One of the definitions of an empowering culture is the fact that it promotes building of skills, and people’s self-confidence, reduced diversity in society, employment creation and opportunities. However, these are some of the aspects that the Pakistan culture lacks. Additionally, majority of Pakistan societies is disadvantaged with decreased access to information, which in turn results in numerous social problems. With a weak foundation for cultural and social platforms, the Pakistan culture is faced with poor infrastructure, child labor to work in the firms among other related vices.

Regardless of its causes poverty has a devastating effect on people who lives in it. One of the aspects with the case of Pakistan is that, childhood poverty has been known to have lifelong negative consequences in the future. According to Abdullah et al (2014), poor children are more likely to be poor in adult life. More so, poor children are more likely to suffer from health, behavioral and cognitive problems. The poverty levels in Pakistan have affected the family setting, which is taken is the primary unit of the society. Due to poverty, more divorces, domestic violence and stress (Abdullah et al, 2017). Poverty has led to psychological unhealthiness among the Pakistanis with social vices such as violence, homicide, crime as well as victimization being some of the aspects commonly experienced in poor societies. A poor youth, adult is unable to have the best of psychological health hence resulting to unacceptable acts to meet their basic needs. Substance abuse, increasing cases of poor housing or homelessness, also definitely the case in Pakistan as a result of poverty. “Poverty is a well-documented and plausible etiological feature in the initiation of the street life of street children, along with an array of complex causes mostly prevail in an urban environment. Simultaneously, poverty itself does not occur in solitude and is further enhanced by diseases and their consequences” (Abdullah et al 2014).

Causes of Poverty in Pakistan

Poverty in Pakistan is attributed to numerous causes, and the impacted not has been felt economically, but also legally and socially. The perpetual fear of terrorism as well as an unstable democratic system has kept away investors (Fair et al, 2016). Poverty can be regarded as by type such as economic poverty, food, bodily, mental, political and cultural poverty. In addition, poverty can be by classification, i.e., absolute poverty and relative poverty, according to World Bank listing, Pakistan is ranked number 43 in terms of exposure to poverty, hence providing a special case to the Pakistanis and the strategies against the menace both by NGOs and government policies.

Government policies and political stability are described to be some of the major factors behind the poverty case in Pakistan. Political stability has been defined as an essential factor for every country that is to be successful and economically stable. A country that is defined by political disturbance cannot be prosperous. More so, political stability means a positive environment for investors. Regretfully, Pakistan has never witnessed or achieved this state in its entire time it has existed. The country has been marred with political disunity and military coups have contributed to changes in governments and government policies, failing in the attempt to establish a conducive environment for the provision of essential amenities, education, and also ability for the civilians to indulge in business and investment. Due to an unstable government in Pakistan, the policies implemented barely focus on the common Pakistanis approach to improve their life hence lead to more money in the nation. Heavy taxes have been imposed on people, however due to unemployment levels; poverty menace has continued to bite into the Pakistanis.

Lack of education and high levels of unemployment have been another contributing factor behind the levels of poverty in Pakistan (Akhtar et al, 2017). A country’s level and quality of education greatly determines the status and progress of a country. Taking the case of Pakistan, the condition of education is miserable, lack of affordable and quality education has made it impossible for the Pakistanis to face the 21st century problems (FRONTLINE/World I Pakistan: The Lost Generation I Interview with Mosharraf Zaidi, 2017). Poverty in the country has magnified the education problem, while poor education has also contributed to higher levels of poverty. The increased poverty has led to people focusing on surviving rather than excelling in school, hence leading to increased levels of psychological at risk people. In addition, poor education levels, compounded by poverty have led to increased cases of social degradation in Pakistan. According to Fair et al, (2016), at 15% in the employment rate in Pakistan have contributed to a massively large number of qualified people with no formal employment. One of the major vices with reference to poor education and lack of employment is the brain drain among the talented and the few educated ones. Brain drain has in turn robbed the country capable and educated people who could help in managing different sectors in the country to help and lift the economic performance of the country.

Fig 1.2 The relationship between poverty, disease and the phenomenon of street children (Abdullah et al, 2014)

The level of agriculture as well as division of agricultural land has also fueled the poverty rate in Pakistan. Agriculture accounts for 25% of the nation’s GDP, while at the same time employing an estimated 45% of Pakistanis labor force depend on it for employment. However, the divisions of land among family members have led to cases of hand to mouth. Due to high levels of illiteracy, there has been increased misuse of resources such as water, seed and fertilizer hence reducing the ability and capacity of the agricultural sector. “Half the population of Pir Wadhai, Pakistan’s busiest open air bus terminal is under 15. Eighty percent has been working since they were three, or younger”. An outdated method of farming leads to low productivity hence low income. Poverty is a curse and crumbles an individual’s ideas and desire to come out of poverty. Poor people coupled with the hunger result to illegal ways of making money and corrupt survival ways. Other causes of poverty in Pakistan include; a moral culture which entails social irresponsible behavior and dishonesty among the people. This is explained by the aspect of every one attempting to get a better life and rich by all means, including unfair/corrupt means (Poverty in Pakistan, 2017). There is also the impact of fluctuated foreign investment, large scale import, materialistic, non-functioning or corrupt judicial system as well as overpopulation.

Strategies to Control Reduce and Alleviate Poverty in Pakistan

According to Akhtar et al, (2017), “Elimination of poverty is the main agenda of developing countries because in developing countries a substantial population is living below the poverty line which in turn is a biggest impede in the way of economic development of the country”. Although the rising levels of poverty in Pakistan have been at an alarming rate, it is not however something that cannot be curtailed. Both national governments, NGOs have embarked on different strategies to curb the menace, improve people’s lives, improve the economy, and create employment, among other measures to help arrest the worsening scenario in Pakistan. With the adoption of effective measures, poverty can be controlled. The strategies should entail uplifting the people’s welfare, streamlining government services and empowering individuals to ensure a healthy community. The government in Pakistan must ensure the corruption is eliminated to ensure the minimal available resources do not get exploited, but rather get utilized in the best way possible to establish and build opportunities for the Pakistanis. Justice must prevail with the judicial system being strengthened not to favor the politicians, military of the few rich people.

One of the contributing factors is gender disparity among men and women. The society must embrace the fight against gender disparity of wealth. When women are left at home, the contribution against poverty is minimized, and hence they should be allowed to work alongside men, to help in uplifting the social status of their family. In addition, the society should be focused to protect their best intellectuals and avoid brain drain (The Poverty of Pakistani Ideology, 2017). This can be through importation of recent innovative ideas that would help generate more income in the poverty stricken nation. In the process of protecting their intellectual powers, the government should also establish social cohesion which would help in reducing the social evils and unemployment, which have been key factors fueling the menace of poverty in Pakistan.

One major contributing factor behind poverty in Pakistan is the dwindling economic performance of the country. The economy must be rejuvenated; exports must be increased to exceed the imports as well as reduction of non-developmental funds. The political leaders must be on the forefront to lead the rejuvenation process (Akhtar et al, 2017). Terrorism and corruption must be eliminated to make friendly business environments and in turn make way for foreign investors. This, however, must be addressed with an iron hand, to ensure effective addressing of the problem. Pakistanis working oversees should be encouraged to invest back in the home country to help in creating employment and uplifting the lives of others.

Reforms in agriculture must also be adapted so as cultivated areas are increased as well as productivity. Fair distribution of land must be encouraged, sustainable use of resources such as land, fertilizers and seeds. According to Akhtar et al, (2017), education and agricultural sectors are the key sectors that can help in uplifting people from poverty. The government should encourage the installation of Small and Medium enterprise (SMEs) as they are effective in working with poverty alleviation program. Opening of local industries such as diaries, poultry would help in employment creation as well as increased food production. Finally, political stability measures would encourage an environment for investment as well as locals to develop their activities, this is because Pakistan isn’t poor, but rather other factors make it poor and hard for people to survive. The country isn’t poor, but rather it is the poor management that has led to the devastating levels of poverty in the country.


Drawing from the articles and research material used different levels of violence contributes perceived poverty. It has in turn an integral element for the Pakistan government and relevant security bodies to improve the citizen’s security. Despite being an agricultural dependent nation only 21% contributes to the nations GDP hence an integral element to invest on better agricultural practices. Reforms in agriculture must also be adapted so as cultivated areas are increased as well as productivity. Despite the high populations in Pakistan the poverty problems can be alleviated through strict measures. These include review of the education system abolishment of child labor as well as massive investment both by locals and internationals.


Abdullah M, Basharat Z, Lodhi O, Wazir M, Khan H, Sattar N, Zahid A (2014) A Qualitative Exploration of Pakistan’s Street Children, as a consequences of the poverty -disease cycle Infectious Disease of poverty 2014 3:11.

Akhtar R, Liu H, Ali A. (2017) Influencing Factors of Poverty in Pakistan: Time Series Analysis International Journal of Economics and Financial Issues, 7 (2), 215-222.

Fair C, Littman R, Malhotra N, Shapiro J. (2016) Relative Poverty, Perceived Violence, and Support for Militant Politics: Evidence from Pakistan. Published online: 16 February 2016.

FRONTLINE/World I Pakistan: The Lost Generation I Interview with Mosharraf Zaidi I PBS. (2017). Pbs.org.Retrieved 21 November 2017, from: http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/pakistan901/zaidi.html.

Idrees, M., & Baig, M. (2017). An Empirical Analysis of Multidimensional Poverty in Pakistan. FWU Journal of Social Sciences, 11 (1), 297-309.

Poverty in Pakistan. (2017). Ilmoamal.org. Retrieved 21 November 2017, from http://www.ilmoamal.org/Poverty.htm.

Terminal Life: Pakistan's Street Working Children. (2017). YouTube. Retrieved 21 November 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vwvH30Reyzs

The Poverty of Pakistani Ideology. (2017). Jacobinmag.com. Retrieved 21 November 2017, from https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/01/taimur-rahman-laal-interview/.

Hyder, A., & Sadiq, M. (2010). Determinants of Poverty in Pakistan. Hamburg Review Of Social Sciences, 4(3), 193-213.

April 26, 2023

World Life

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Pakistan Policy Money

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