Pakistan Cut Poverty and Hunger in Musharraf Years 2000-2008

Poverty and hunger often go together. The affordability of food is usually a bigger issue than its availability in most poor nations, according to research published by Indian-born economist and Nobel Laureate Dr. Amartya Sen. With few exceptions, rising incomes and reductions in poverty rates are known to lead to lower hunger levels.

Pakistan experienced significant declines in poverty and hunger from the year 2000 until 2008, according to figures published by the World Bank and the International Food Policy Research Institute in their separate reports published recently.

Poverty in Pakistan decreased from about 34.5% to 17.2% and hunger went down with it during Musharraf years from 2000 to 2008, as reported by World Bank and IFPRI as lagging indicators. The global hunger index score, published annually by the International Food Policy Research Institute(IFPRI), is a number between zero and 100, with lower figure signifying less hunger.

Based on hunger data collected from 2003 to 2008, IFPRI reported that Pakistan's hunger index score improved over the last three consecutive years reported since 2008 from 21.7 (2008) to 21.0 (2009) to 19.1 (2010) and its ranking rose from 61 to 58 to 52. During the same period, India's index score worsened from 23.7 to 23.9 to 24.1 and its ranking moved from 66 to 65 to 67 on a list of 84 nations.

At 22.67% improvement in its hunger score since 1990, Pakistan has improved less than India's 23.97% reduction, explained mainly by little or no progress in Pakistan during the lost decade of the 1990s under Bhutto and Sharif governments.

In spite of the progress Pakistan made until 2008, the hunger situation in Pakistan (and Sri Lanka) is still rated as serious on a scale ranging from low level hunger to extremely alarming, and for the rest of South Asia, including India, the situation is described as alarming by the world hunger report 2010.

On the 11th anniversary of General Musharraf's coup this year, the dominant and self-serving political rhetoric on the airwaves of Pakistan completely obscures Musharraf government's positive role in significantly enhancing Pakistan's economic growth, and reducing hunger and poverty on his watch. Instead, Musharraf's enemies are focusing entirely on his missteps to try and hide their own major failures since 2008...failures that have brought Pakistan's economy near collapse, reminiscent of the bad old days of the 1990s that ended with Musharraf's coup in 1999. How long can they fool the people of Pakistan? Only time will tell.

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Comment by Riaz Haq on May 5, 2012 at 8:08am

Here's an ET story on poverty decline in Pakistan:

Their biggest challenge at the moment is to explain how nearly seven million Pakistanis have come out of the vicious cycle of poverty.

According to the survey, the incidence of poverty has declined from 17.2 per cent in 2008 to slightly over 12 per cent in 2011. It was conducted by a committee constituted to calculate the incidence of poverty on the basis of Pakistan Social and Living Standards Measurement Survey 2010-11.

“The biggest challenge in front of us is how to explain this figure to the masses and economists when the economy grew at an average rate of 2.6 per cent and average inflation remained above 15 per cent during the last four years,” a member of the committee told The Express Tribune requesting anonymity due to political sensitivity attached to the figure.

He said poverty declined to slightly over 12 per cent with sharp declines in both rural and urban poverty. He said rural poverty declined more than urban poverty but, “the behaviour was the same and consistent with previous years’ results.”

In 2007-08 when the Pakistan Peoples Party-led coalition government took over, poverty had been assessed at 17.2 per cent. But the government decided not to release the figure saying poverty was at 35-40 per cent. It shared 40 per cent figure with Friends of Democratic Pakistan in its maiden meeting held in Tokyo.

It is facing the same dilemma exactly after four years, as its own people are now telling that poverty has declined to 12 per cent.

According to the United Nations Multi Dimensional Poverty Index, half of the country’s population lives below the poverty line.
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In 2007-08 the country’s estimated population was 164.7 million. By that account in 2008 as many as 28.3 million people lived below the poverty line. In 2010-11, the estimated population was 175.3 million and around 21.5 million people were in abject poverty.

The committee member said that poverty has been worked out on the basis of consumption method. According to this method, if a person takes 2,350 calories per day that costs him slightly over Rs1,700 per month that person is taken as above the poverty line.

The official said that the committee has not formally submitted the poverty report to the Planning Commission, but it is expected to submit the report over the next couple of weeks. However, the committee has already shared its findings with the commission.

A senior government official, who also wished to remain anonymous, said that the concerned authorities were considering the poverty figure and framing their mind whether to release it or not. It is not yet clear whether the government would publish the poverty estimates in the Economic Survey of Pakistan 2011-12.

The committee member, while giving justifications for the decline in poverty despite harsh ground realities, said that poverty declined because of higher support price of major crops, especially wheat, healthy trend in inflows of remittances and impact of assistance provided by both the government and private sectors in the flood affected areas of the country.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/374384/solace-among-confusion-5-decline...

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 30, 2013 at 7:55pm

Here's an ET report on social sector development during Musharraf years:

According to the report’s HDI list, between 2000 and 2007, which roughly corresponds with General Pervez Musharraf’s regime, the Human Development Index rose 18.9 per cent — an annual average of 2.7 per cent.

From 2007 to 2012 it only went up by 3.4 per cent, just under 0.7 per cent per annum. Somehow, things got even worse in the last three years of that time frame, with HDI increases crashing down as low as 0.59% — a negligible average annual increase of under 0.20 per cent.

The 2013 Human Development Report “The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World” is instrumental in the context of Pakistan, especially given the challenges faced today due to poor policy choices that have been confronted in the report.

Meeting a small group of journalists here, Marc André Franche, UNDP Pakistan’s Country Director launched the report and said it is important for what it says and there are lessons to be learnt from countries with preconditions similar to Pakistan.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/527474/human-development-report-2013-th...

Comment by Riaz Haq on December 7, 2022 at 9:05pm

HOW ROADS CHANGED THARPARKAR


by Arif Hasan

https://www.dawn.com/news/1714144

The main recommendation of the 1987 report on drought and famine conditions in Thar, prepared by the author, was that the changes taking place in Thar could only be consolidated through increased mobility and linkages of Thar with the rest of Pakistan in general and Karachi and Hyderabad in particular.

It was felt that, if a road-building programme did not take place, the inequities in Thari society would increase, since those who could hire or possess four-wheel drives would be the main beneficiaries of Thar’s huge mineral and livestock potential.

For mobility and linkages to happen, a road-building programme had been recommended, which envisaged linking the four Thar taluka headquarters with one another and with the national road network. However, it was not till the Musharraf era (2000-08) that a road-building programme commenced.

The roads have made transportation cheaper and easier. The old six-wheeler kekra [World War II era American truck], which was slow and consumed enormous amounts of energy plying on the desert tracks, has been replaced by normal Bedford trucks, which are cheaper to run and can carry 250 maunds as opposed to 150 maunds carried by the kekras.

It is claimed by the transporters that, earlier, it used to take three hours from Mithi to Naukot, but now this has been reduced to one hour. They also claim that the cost of petrol/diesel and maintenance of vehicles have been reduced by 20 per cent.

With the building of the road network, trade and commerce has increased substantially. Thar’s agricultural produce now goes to distant markets — six to seven lorries per day carry onions from Nagarparkar to Lahore, and vegetables and fruit from other areas of Sindh and Punjab are now easily available in Thar.

Unlike the situation that prevailed 15 years ago, there are cattle markets in the taluka headquarters, so the Tharis do not have to make the long trek on foot to Juddo to sell their animals. Shops carrying industrially produced household food have multiplied and sell items such as baby diapers, something quite unimaginable before. Every hour an air-conditioned bus, complete with TV and Wi-Fi (owned mainly by Pakhtuns and people of Mianwali based in Karachi) leaves for or arrives in Mithi.

The number of taxis operating in Thar has increased from 150 to over 400, while the qingqis in Mithi have increased from over 150 to over 300 since 2013. These taxis carry passengers not only within Thar but to distant locations all over Pakistan, while the qingqis have almost completely replaced transport animals such as camels and bullocks.

Bank loans for the purchase of taxis are available, but to buy the qingqis and trucks, one can only borrow from the informal market. Interest rates against loans are high and vary depending on how much advance payment can be made by the borrower, or if property or land can be mortgaged against the loan. Spare parts and mechanics for the maintenance of the taxis and qingqis are locally available, which was not so in 2000 and, very often, the vehicles had to be taken to Umerkot for maintenance purposes.

Almost all these different types of vehicles have no insurance, since the owners find insurance rates far too expensive and prefer to put their trust in God. The qingqi and taxi owners have no association but are of the opinion that they desperately need one to negotiate with government agencies and fight against the bhatta [protection money] that the police extorts from them.

An association is also necessary to resist pressure from national transporters’ associations, who coerce the Thari transporters to call a strike on their advice. This was not an issue in the past, because the kekras, which the new vehicles replaced, were collectively owned by seths in Umerkot and Naukot. One truck driver pointed out that there was a desperate need for a driving school in Mithi, because people who were learning to drive were dangerous and caused a large number of animal deaths.

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