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Poverty anywhere is a threat to prosperity everywhere. It is a scrooge and one of

the worst curses and miseries that a human can face. According to Homer. “This ,
this is misery! The last, the worst that man can feel”.

Poverty can be measured either in absolute terms, for example, the number of those
who cannot afford more than two pairs of shoes, or in relative terms, for example,
the number of the poorest ten percent of house holds. In either sense it is a concept,
which is defined arbitrarily . Poverty exists not only because incomes are low, but
also because the needs of certain low income households are high.

Poverty has many dimensions, which include economic, political, social,

environmental and human dimensions. In economic terms a county, a region or a
household is poor when the per capita income of purchasing power of a poor
country or household is below a certain minimum standard, there are low medical
care and health facilities, productivity is very low and there is illiteracy.

In political terms a country, a regionor a group of people are poor when they do
not have a voice in the community or dependent on other more powerful groups or
individuals in order to express their own rights and choices.

In social terms poverty in a country a region o a household breeds all types of

socially unacceptable behaviors like drug addiction, crime, position, violence ad
terrorism in a family or in a community, These factors degrade human self respect,
moral and social values of the society as a whole and as a result more and more
people in the community become intolerantand rude towards each other in their
day to day life.

In environmental dimension, poverty destroys the living environment not only of

those who live in poverty but of all other human beings as well as non-human
living things that depend on the same resources and ecosystem on which those
living in poverty depend and survive. People living in poverty cannot change their
behaviors easily because of lack of resources, kn0lwledge about their own
surroundings and education. Thus by destroying their own living environment, the
poor in reality are destroying their own resources on which they survive in the long
Poverty in its human dimension is the most important of all, because poor people
live in conditions that are miserable, conditions in which some members of their
family die of hunger, disease of famine. Poverty in tis human dimension exists,
when a child is down with a curable disease and the parents have to take a decision
whether to take the child to a doctor and buy expensive medicines or purchase
other essentials of daily use. It exists when parents of a child sell their child into
slavery or prostitutionbecause of lack of resources to feed or care for that child and
when government institutes fail to protect the rights of the poor.

Poverty has emerged as the most important issue for Pakistan. Poverty redressal
requires economic growth accompanied by an improvement in access to social
services. The reason that economic growth has failed to trickle down to the poor in
Pakistan is the slow improvement in social indicators Economic growth and social
sector development are interdependent as one reinforces the other. In fact
economic growth is necessary for poverty reduction but poverty reduction itself is
necessary for sustained growth.

The estimates of poverty are not consistent in Pakistan. According to caloric based
(2250 calories per person), the incidence of poverty declined sharply from 46.5
percent in 1969-70 to 17.3percent in 1987-88. However , poverty increased
significantly in 1990’s rising from 17.3 percent in 1987 -88 to 22.4 percent in
1992-93 and further to 31 percent in 1996-97.The recent estimates suggest that
poverty ahs further increased from 32.6 percent in 1998-99 to 33.50 percent in
1999-2000. This shows that the incidence of poverty has increased in 19990’s.
similar trends have been observed in the case of urban and rural poverty.

The main reasons for increase in poverty during 1990’s can be attributed to the
relatively lower rate of economic growth, rising unemployment, stagnant real
wages, declining flow of worker’s remittances and bad governance. In addition to
the factors mentioned above the high population growth also puts pressure on the
merge social services thereby causing social distress.

Painting a broad picture of third world poverty is not enough. Before anyone can
formulate effective policies and programmes to attack poverty at its source, one
needs some specific knowledge of poverty groupsand their economic
characteristics, It is not sufficient simply to focus on raising growth rates of Gross
National Product in the expectation or hope that this national income growth will
“trickle down” to improve levels of living for the very poor. On the contrary many
observers argue that direct attack on poverty by means of poverty focused policies
and plans can be more effective and one cannot attack poverty directly without
detailed knowledge of its location, extent and characteristics.

National Economic development is central to success in poverty alleviation. But

poverty is an outcome of more than economic processes. It is an outcome of
economic, social and political processes. To attack poverty requires action at local ,
national and global levels. The following actions are required to be taken y poor
people, government, private sector and civil society organizations.

Growth is essential for expanding economic opportunities for the poor. The
question is how to achieve rapid, sustainable and pro-poor growth. A business
environmental conducive to private investment and technological innovation is
necessary, as is political and social stabilityto invite public and private investments.

The poor should be empowered in the true sense. Empowerment means enhancing
the capacity of the poor to influence the states institutions that affects their lives by
strengthening their participation in political process, and local decision-making. It
also means removing the barriers political, legal and social that work against
particular groups and building the assets of poor people to enable them to
engageeffectively in markets.

Enhancing security for poor people which means reducing their vulnerability to
such risks as ill health, economic shocks and natural disasters and helping them
cope with adverse shocks when they occur.

The ultimate cause of the unequal distribution of personal incomes in most third
world countries is the unequal and highly concentrated patterns of asset ownership
(wealth). The principal reason why less than 20 percent of their population receives
over 50 percent of the national income is that this 20 percent probably owns ad
controls over 90 percent of the productive and financial resources, especially
physical capital and land but also financial capital (stock and bonds) and human
capital in the form of better education. It follows that perhaps more important line
of policy to reduce povertyand inequality is to focus directly on reducing the
concentrated control of assets, the unequal distribution of power, unequal access to
education and income earning opportunities.

Policies to enforce progressive rates of direct taxation on income especially at the

highest levels are, what are most needed in this area of redistribution activity.
Unfortunately, in many developing countries the rich do not show a larger part of
their income and assets. Further , they often also have the power and ability to
avoid paying taxes without the fear of government.

Pakistan is facing twin challenges of reviving growth and reducing poverty. This
requires rapid economic growth keeping in view the factors responsible for slow
growth and rising poverty, the government has formulated a comprehensive
economic revival programmed aimed at reviving economic growth and social
development. The government has adopted a multi-pronged approach to promote
pro-poor economic growth and reduce poverty.

Engendering growth by correcting macroeconomic imbalances and stabilizing the

economy has been made the central pillar of the government’s economic revival
program. The government has adopted a sound macroeconomic framework aimed
at both stabilizing the economy and stimulating growth. It comprises five building
blocks namely tax reforms, expenditure management, prudent monetary policy,
external adjustment and debt management.

Implementing broad based governance reforms are essential ingredients of he

government’s poverty alleviation strategy. Without governance reforms thee
enormous tasks of reviving growth and reducing poverty cannot be addressed.
Sagging growth and rising poverty are in partresults of the poor performance of the
government institutions in Pakistan. In fact, poverty in Pakistan is not merely an
outcome of economic ills but also a result of mis-governance over the past years.
The main element of reforms are devolution of power at grass roots level, civil
services reforms, access to justice and financial transparency.

The care principle of Pakistan’ poverty alleviation strategy is to empower the

people and to create greater opportunities for increasing real income by improving
access to productive assets mainly housing, land an credit. Access to credit is the
surest way of empowering thepoor and improving their income generating
opportunities. In addition to the already existing financial intuition, thegovernment
has now established the “Khushhali Bank” or “Micro Finance Bank” for the
provision of micro credit to poor communities.

The effects of sluggish economic growth are clearly reflected in Pakistan’s

performance in the social sectors, Human development is essential for attracting
investment and generating the capacity for future sustainable growth.Pakistan’s
progress on almost every social indictor e.g. education, health and nutrition is poor
as compared with that of other developing countries. In order to address this
situation, the government has prepared comprehensive human development
strategies aimed at the effective utilization of the available resource s through
improved institutional mechanisms.

The government’s key social safety net for reducing vulnerability to exogenous
shocks is the reformed system of Zakat and Usher. The system of collection and
distribution of Zakat has recently been reorganized. However, its potential and
scope in fighting poverty is yet to be fully realized. The food support programed is
another social safety instrument of he government for the poorest.

In spite of all these cataclysmic facts, on may hope that according to the economy
revival plan of the government, the time will be changed and the economic
development rate will be enhanced andat the same time the level of poverty will be
decreased. Now the time ahs come that if we want Pakistan to rise up to that extent
where the prosperity, integrity, solidarity and economic stability will be all around,
then every Pakistani will have to work as far as in him lies. By working with whole
dedication, concentration and conviction we may achieve a strong Pakistan dream
by Quaid-e-Azam , and by going this way, the day will not be far away when
Pakistan ill bear the palm and it will l show its mettle of the rest of the world.