Gallup 2012 Wellbeing survey reports that 20% of Pakistanis say they are "thriving", down from 32% last year. However, the report shows that more of them are still better off than their neighbors in Bangladesh (16% thriving) and India (11% thriving). The number of those "thriving" increased in Bangladesh by 3% and declined in India by 6%.
The fact that the number of Pakistanis who consider themselves thriving is down from 1 in 3 last year to 1 in 5 now is understandable because of many serious and worsening crises Pakistan is facing today. The real question is who are these 20%? And why do they say they are thriving?
Here are some of the possible reasons:
1. Rising consumption of durables (cars, motorcycles, tractors, Appliances) and non-durables (FMCGs or fast-moving consumer goods) as well as increasing cement sales are indicative of the underlying strength of the economy.
2. Pakistan's undocumented economy is continuing to thrive as seen in packed shopping malls and restaurants.
3. There are double digit increases in cash remittances flowing in to Pakistan from the world's seventh largest diaspora, rising 21.45 percent to $9.73 billion in the first nine months of the 2011/12 fiscal year.
4. Karachi stock index is booming, hitting new 4-year highs. Share prices are driven by healthy profits and foreign buying, making KSE-100 the third fastest growing index in the world.
5. Even the preliminary official estimates are indicating that Pakistan's nominal per capita income has increased by 9% to $1,372 in 2011-12 from $1,258 in 2010-11.
6. Preliminary estimates are showing that poverty rate in Pakistan has declined from 17.2 per cent in 2008 to slightly over 12 per cent in 2011.
The Gallup survey confirms that only 28% of Pakistanis have confidence in their national government. In my view, it stems from the obvious failure of the state in delivering basic services such as rule-of-law, security and electricity to the people . The best way to improve the wellbeing of the people is to improve governance, reduce corruption and persuade people to pay taxes to give the state more resources.
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