I was born and grew up in Pakistan, so I guess I am the right person to answer. For the first part of the above question, “Is Pakistan a poor country?”, short answer is No. The later part is correct; Pakistan is a poorly managed country!
I will list the facts and figures and try to prove the point. At the end of this post, you can tell in comments whether you agree or not.
First, how do we measure a poor or wealthy nation, compared to another nation?
“While GDP per capita is often considered the standard metric, by compensating for differences in living costs and rates of inflation, the purchasing power parity (PPP) can better assess an individual’s buying power in a particular country.” (Global Finance)
Pakistan GDP per capita
According to World Bank, Pakistan GDP per Capita as of 2019 is US Dollars 1,284.7$, whereas 20 years ago in 1999, it was only 454.3$.
The histogram of bottom 8 countries with lowest GDP p.c. can be seen in the above picture. As you can see their GDP p.c. is quite volatile, whereas Pakistan shows a steady upward trend year on year. (Believe me the growth could have been much faster. Why it isn’t, I will cover later in this article)
In case you are wondering:
What is GDP per Capita?
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita shows a country’s GDP divided by its total population. (Worldometers)
What is Gross Domestic Product?
Gross domestic product (GDP) is the total monetary or market value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country’s borders in a specific time period. (Investopedia)
What is purchasing power parity?
The rate at which the currency of one country would have to be converted into that of another country to buy the same amount of goods and services in each country (IMF)
Pakistan GDP based on PPP
According to IMF, Pakistan GDP based on PPP as of October 2020 is 0.83 percent, whereas it was 0.72 percent in the year 2000. So, there is a constant upward trend with respect to previous years.
However, a comparison is required with other countries to find whether Pakistan is relatively a poor country or no. To make a fair comparison, we must look for countries similar to Pakistan in aspects like demographics, culture, politics, technology, and geography.
There are relatively few countries with a high degree of similarity with Pakistan. It shares traits with the Indian subcontinent, but also traits with some of the poorer Muslim countries. This gives Pakistan its unique character. (Objectivelists)
According to the research, top 10 countries most similar to Pakistan are India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iraq, Yemen, Nepal, Iran, Egypt, Morocco, and Syria.
So, let us take a look at their GDP per capita and GDP based on PPP to find out where Pakistan ranks.
Comparison with similar countries
based on PPP
Now it is quite evident that Pakistan is ranking in the middle among countries with similar dynamics. It is neither rich nor poor. Pakistan is just portrayed as poor by the media.
Why Pakistan is a poorly managed country?
Now to answer the second part of the statement, I will first list some resources which makes Pakistan stand out, among others.
Assets of Pakistan
- Pakistan is the fifth largest country in the world in terms of Population (200 million). The massive number of Population requires extra resources, but the same population can become asset for the country if managed properly.
- In the recent years, Pakistan’s literacy rate has grown by 250 percent, the largest increase in any country to date.
- According to a poll organized by the Institute of European Business Administration, from 125 countries, Pakistanis have been ranked the ‘fourth most intelligent people’ across the globe.
- Pakistan has a beautiful natural landscape: Forests, Mountains, Glaciers, Lakes, Waterfalls, Islands, Beaches and Deserts. All of these are rarely found in a single country. Pakistan is truly a gift of God. If the country would not be affected by terrorism and war, it would have been the number 1 tourist destination in the world.
- Khewra salt mines, the second largest salt mine in the world. However, Pakistan ranks 20th among salt-producing countries. Pakistan also has deposits of other mineral reserves like coal, copper, chromite, gold etc. Pakistan’s Reko Diq gold mine is estimated to be worth more than 500 billion dollars.
- Pakistan ranks seventh in wheat production, fourth in cotton, sixth in sugar, and thirteen in rice.
- Pakistan has the world’s largest ambulance service network (Edhi ambulance) which is also listed in Guinness Book of World records.
- Pakistan is a nuclear power and has a very strong army. The country has solid defense mechanism.
Poor management and administration
If this is not a poor management of resources, then what? The landscape of the country can be made tourist attractions by investing only a little amount which in turn make the country competing with France, Turkey, Switzerland and Thailand.
Salt production can be managed properly to increase production. Gold mines case is famous for getting contract cancellation penalty due to mismanagement.
If there can be a public funded non-profit ambulance service to become largest in the world, then why the people have trust deficit in Government initiated projects or services?
Pakistan is self sufficient in food production, yet it has to make imports due to sudden increase in demand and poor storage facilities.
If the above factors would have been addressed properly, Paksitan’s GDP and PPP would be phenomenal.
The main reason for poor management is corruption, fraud and dishonesty in the ruling class. Paksitan never found an honest and sincere leader who could move the country in proper direction.
Someone summarized Pakistan situation as:
“Pakistanis sit over a resource bank of trillions of dollars while they chase millions to survive.”
Ray of hope
The good thing is people are getting awareness now. Maybe due to improvement in literacy rate and education. People have started criticizing government actions. Courts and National Accountability Bureau have also opened cases to catch these corrupts and they are facing trials.
Hopefully, Pakistan can come out of this status quo and become a prosperous country soon (In Sha Allah).
Note: I know I have missed many points and did not elaborate some points more. However, I tried to add facts and figures sources to remain unbiased.
Initially I thought to make a long article, then changed my mind considering boredom of readers. Please let me know in comments what you think about the article.
If you want me to add anything, please do share with me and I will update it in the article.
Check out some of the beautiful pictures of my country.
Cover image credits: Wikipedia