THE World Bank Group in its recently published report “Pakistan Country Snapshot” has remarked that the country has made impressive progress in reducing absolute poverty and improving shared prosperity. The report added that the percentage of the population below the national poverty rate has fallen from 34.7 percent in fiscal year 2002 to an estimated 12.4 percent in 2011.
It is an encouraging report and must be based on realistic examination of the situation in Pakistan by an institution, which is working closely with the country for decades. It is also in line with the overall assessment of the economic and fiscal conditions by multilateral institutions, lenders, donors and rating agencies. This is also supportive of the consistent claims by the Government that it has been able to reduce poverty and address many of the fundamental challenges facing the economy. The macro-economic indicators too confirm the assessment of the World Bank and if analysis of the situation during the period from 2011 to 2015 is also taken into account, it is sure that more healthy picture would emerge. We believe that the poverty alleviation programmes launched by successive governments also had somewhat good impact on the lives of the people. However, we may point out that despite all this, the public perception is somewhat different. Though the record fall in inflation, reduction in oil prices and launching of some mega projects have helped improve the lot of the common man but still unemployment is the biggest challenge and there are millions of hard pressed families that find it difficult to lead an honourable life. There are, therefore, two things that the Government should do – persist with its developmental agenda that is helpful in creating employment opportunities and launch a massive public awareness campaign, duly backed by facts and figures, to counter the gloom and doom scenario that is frequently painted by some vested interests.