Unaware of such a thought-provoking proverb, our politicians know only to get cheesy pictures with any available Chinese counterpart. As Pakistan grapples with an unending economic crisis, the World Bank has issued a stark warning: the country's current economic model is no longer effective in reducing poverty. Although alarming indicators like skyrocketing inflation, dwindling foreign exchange reserves and a population where 40% live below the poverty line are enough for World Bank to issue the gruff warning but these severe reasons, may be, are not enough for the people at the helm of affairs to finally wakeup.
According to Banhassine, unless Pakistan changes its strategy, it risks becoming a perpetual laggard, hamstrung by elite capture and policy decisions that favour a certain section only.
The upward expansion in poverty, in its various aspects, impacts people’s abilities to invest in basic needs like health, education, and essential social services. Challenges in accessing or affording any of these services of course could easily put Pakistan’s efforts toward achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in jeopardy. If we look at Pakistan’s position at SDG index, Pakistan is ranked 128th this year out of 166 countries assessed. It was at 125th position in 2022. The slippage in the country’s ranking on the Sustainable Development Goals Index is no surprise.
Each new government has blamed the previous one for the bad shaped economy, but not even any single one of them has been serious about pulling the country out of the economic chaos. Instead of stopping tax evasion and increasing the number of taxpayers, the recent governments increased taxes on those who already pay them.
The government needs to pay attention to rapid implementation of sustained economic growth policies and rigorous programs are needed in different sectors such as health, education, agriculture and industry. This implementation would bring the literacy rate upward and can notably reduce unemployment and poverty, building the foundation for skills that results in better education, jobs, and earnings, allowing the poor to contribute to economic growth.
Poverty is a multifaceted issue that requires multipronged approaches to address. Strategies designed by the specialists of the field, that improve the economic mobility of individuals may help to alleviate the negative effects of this evil. It is a vicious cycle passed down from generation to generation, if not addressed timely, as Plutarch rightly said ‘the imbalance between the rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.’