ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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Is Poverty Now a Permanent Phenomenon in Pakistan?

Around mid-1990s, there was growing awareness and recognition that after two decades of poverty reduction, these positive trends had either slowed down, or worse still, had been reversed. Many studies which analysed and explained these trends, argued that poverty in Pakistan had been reduced due to a combination of factors, including high and sustained growth over a fairly long period of time, by the role and contribution made by remittances from the West Asia, and by a public policy which was not so much focused upon poverty alleviation per se, but dependent more on overall government spending. Since 1988, when the government started following an IMF and World Bank structural adjustment programme, almost every single macro-economic indicator with some poverty reducing impact, began to worsen. Over the last decade, growth has slowed down markedly, development and social sector spending has been slashed, inflation has increased, manufacturing sector growth has been exceptionally low, and remittances have fallen to their lowest levels in 20 years. Hence, all the factors which may have had a positive influence on poverty alleviation, have deteriorated, possibly explaining why poverty returned to Pakistan and why it has continued to persist. With every government committed to such a stabilisation and restructuring programme, and with its own poor record of targeting for poverty alleviation, it is more than likely that poverty in Pakistan is going to grow and persist well into the future.

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