Pakistan's Development Hallie Hoffman


Pakistan, an underdeveloped country in South Asia, is ranked 147 out of 188 countries by the United Nations Development Program, with a Human Development Index of 0.538 ("Pakistan").

Statistics from the UNDP's Human Development Reports:

Life expectancy at birth: 66.2 years

Expected years of schooling: 7.8 years

Adult literacy rate: 54.7%

Employment to population ratio: 51.6%

Additionally, Pakistan has very low completion rates for primary education, and government spending on education in 2014 was only 2.1% of the GDP, demonstrating a lack of quality schooling ("Pakistan Overview"). Public spending on health in 2014 was 0.8% of the GDP, one of the lowest healthcare spending rates in the world. 16% of Pakistani children under age five suffer from malnutrition, 45% of children have stunted growth, and 29.5% of the population lives below the poverty line ("Pakistan Overview"). Additionally, their Gender Development Index is 0.726, placing them behind India and Bangladesh in gender equality ("Pakistan").

However, Pakistan shows the potential for significant growth. From 1980-2014, their Human Development Index—a measure of development based on a long and healthy life, access to knowledge, and a decent standard of living—went from 0.353 to 0.538, a 52.5% increase. During this time period, life expectancy at birth increased by 9 years, and average years of schooling increased by 3 years ("Pakistan"). Pakistan's economy is projected to continue to improve drastically in the next ten years ("Pakistan Overview").


Despite such a positive economic forecast, Pakistan remains underdeveloped due to its geography, lack of education, inequality, and political system. The location of the country inhibits development. Pakistan suffers from severe floods, earthquakes, droughts, and landslides, harming both citizens and national infrastructure ("About Pakistan"). Additionally, the nation is closely affected by conflicts and crises in nearby countries, and these can prevent growth as well. Pakistan struggles to combat extremism and terrorism, some of the biggest threats to development, but its position next to Afghanistan and Iran makes it impossible to avoid being influenced by the events of these other countries in addition to its own issues ("About Pakistan").

Development also depends on citizens having the skills and knowledge to aid in the country's growth, but the Pakistan population suffers from a severe lack of education. With very little government spending on education, schools are unable to provide quality instruction, and infrastructure is severely inadequate ("Pakistan Overview").

Inequality is also a serious issue in Pakistan. Women have started gaining more rights, with 21% of Parliament positions held by women, but this remains a problem that must be recognized and improved ("About Pakistan").

While the political system is improving, the government still has many issues. The current prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, leads the Pakistan Muslim League, merging politics with religion. This is his third time in office after having been jailed and exiled in 1999. He has faced numerous allegations of corruption, and while his presidency has led to a more stable government, critics accuse him of tolerating religious extremism and craving political power. There are many other opposition parties, most notably the Pakistan People's Party, and this fragmentation leads to increased political conflict, impeding development efforts ("Pakistan Politics").

Development Attempts

The World Bank is committed to the development of Pakistan, and under their Country Partnership Strategy, they seek to help by focusing on Pakistan's energy, economy, extremism, and education. This agreement includes lending over $1 billion per year to Pakistan. The World Bank also provides investments in the power sector and supports development by businesspeople in the private sector. Trade with other South Asian countries, Central Asia, and India has been actively encouraged, and there are efforts to bring more private capital from foreign investors into the country ("Pakistan Overview).

Pakistan's economic growth has been due to increased manufacturing and energy availability, as well as improved tax collection, restricted expenditure, and more efficient use of resources. However, gains in investor confidence, which are necessary to maintain growth and eliminate debt, have been undermined by political issues. This has limited foreign direct investment and private investment in Pakistan. Additionally, while exportation is being encouraged, Pakistan still imports more than it exports, which contributes to its deficit ("Pakistan Development Update").

The political and social climate of Pakistan is slowing developing as well. Democratic elections are having successful outcomes, and amendments are being added to the country's constitution to improve the political system. More recent legislation has taken steps to increase equality, such as providing legal protection for women from discrimination and practices like acid-throwing ("About Pakistan"). Many more reforms are needed in this sector, though.

Policy Suggestions

Promotion/Expansion of Domestic Businesses

One of the factors that has constrained Pakistan’s economic growth is having more imports than exports, and not being able to generate enough FDI. In order to improve this, there should be programs that allow foreign businesspeople to invest directly in local companies. By working together, foreign investors can provide the necessary capital to support Pakistani entrepreneurs, and these businesses can then thrive and bring rewards to both the local citizens and the foreign investors. Investors will feel more secure in this kind of investment because they are investing in people, not some random corporation, and they can more easily communicate with and monitor their investment. This method creates jobs for Pakistani citizens, provides a sustainable method for training and empowering the people, and stimulates Pakistan’s economy through exports and trade.

Better Education, More Equality

To improve education in Pakistan, the schooling system needs money and training. Too often, aid organizations raise money with the right intention, but without a system that puts this to productive use, this money does nothing. Aid organizations and NGOs must provide instruction for teachers and lasting education reforms in addition to financial resources for school supplies and better infrastructure. Additionally, this must be supported by the government. Legislation must be passed to allocate more funding for schools, and there must be an increased emphasis on the necessity of knowledge for all children. One of the main reasons for gender inequality in Pakistan is that girls are not educated, which prevents them from getting jobs they need and rising up in society. Girls must have equal access to education as well as equal support in gaining this education. Campaigns to increase awareness of the benefits of education are important, as well as practical steps for achieving this schooling. Education should include schooling in practical trades, emphasizing the fact that not only is education for boys and girls a moral necessity, but it is also necessary for financial prosperity and overall development of a nation.

Political Reform

Corruption is a major issue in Pakistan. Even with democratic elections, corruption undermines fair and equal representation of the people by the government. There must be more oversight and pressure from the global community in order to limit corruption and hold the Pakistani government accountable. In addition, development requires people to trust and feel supported by their government in order for them to want to contribute to the country’s economy. The political system must work in favor of the people, and this means increased services provided by the government, such as healthcare and infrastructure. While the government also has to balance this spending with paying off debts, the more a government “invests” in their citizens, the more likely those citizens are to be productive members of society who will bring their country out of underdevelopment.


"About Pakistan." UNDP in Pakistan. United Nations Development Programme, n.d. Web. 24 Feb. 2017. <>.

"Pakistan Development Update: Economy Gradually Improving." World Bank. World Bank Group, 9 Apr. 2014. Web. 24 Feb. 2017. < 2014/04/09/pakistan-dvelopment-update-economy-gradually-improving>.

"Pakistan." Human Development Reports. United Nations Development Programme, 2015. Web. 24 Feb. 2017. <>

"Pakistan Overview." World Bank. World Bank Group, 17 May 2016. Web. 24 Feb. 2017. <>.

"Pakistan Politics: Key Players." BBC News. BBC, 23 Dec. 2013. Web. 24 Feb. 2017. <http://>.


Created with images by Free Grunge Textures - - "Pakistan Grunge Flag" • DFID - UK Department for International Development - "A child stands amongst the remains of buildings destroyed by the floods in Sindh province, Pakistan." • srizki - "A girl studying in Pakistan's flooded area." • DFID - UK Department for International Development - "Providing clean water and sanitation" • DFID - UK Department for International Development - "Getting girls into school in Pakistan's Punjab region" • DFID - UK Department for International Development - "Girls in playground, Abbottabad, Pakistan, 15 September 2011"

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