A Portrait of the Death of an Economy

My topic deals with Pakistan, its relationship with the IMF and World Bank, and its internal problems that are causing unemployment, poverty, economic crisis and hunger. I shall be analyzing the situation using the neo-classical theory, as it is what the economists of the Pakistan government and the IMF are using to alleviate the economic instability of the country.
Situated in the sub-continent, Pakistan is a low-income country, with great promise for growth. Unfortunately, it is held back from reaching middle-income status by chronic problems like a rapidly growing population, sizable government deficits, a heavy dependence on foreign aid, recurrent governmental instability and large military expenditures. It is to address these fundamental faults in Pakistan’s economy that the IMF has initiated the Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) in the country. This is discussed in further detail later in the paper.
Like all developing countries, Pakistan’s population is largely employed in the agricultural sector, which accounts for about 48 percent of the labor force. In today’s world the Industrial and Service sectors are the largest growing areas of a developed county’s economy. Yet Pakistan only employs 39 percent of its population in Service, and a minute 13 percent in Industry. This is a paltry figure, compared to the employment statistics of a developed country.
Pakistan is also heavily dependent on a single export crop, cotton. Hence the country’s fortunes rise and fall with the cotton market. It is no wonder that there are so many poverty stricken people in Pakistan. When almost half the population is involved in a very volatile market, a lot of the time, a lot of people will be burnt by price fluctuations.
The country is also subject to the mercy of the weather. Focussing on a major cash crop means very little diversification. This translates to mass hunger and hard times for the agricultural sector whenever the agrarian lands are ravaged by floods, or conversely, by droughts.
Even more importantly, Pakistan’s agricultural sector is marked by large landowners, controlling most of the production. Hence, only a minimal amount of the profit from exports goes to the poor people working for the large farmers. It is these people who constitute a large portion of Pakistan’s population. It is also these people who are living in abject poverty in the rural regions of the country, devoid of the right to feed their families.
This is a great illustration of a theme discussed in “World Hunger, Twelve Myths.’ Lappe, Collins, Rosset and Esparza discuss the commonly believed myths about why hunger and poverty exist. In it they clarify this very important point: hunger does not exist due to a shortage of available food, but because of ‘fear’ and ‘powerlessness,’ resulting in the ‘anguish, grief and humiliation’ felt by the hungry and poverty stricken.
Pakistan is a classic example of this theory. Based on a feudal system, especially in agriculture, Pakistani society is primarily controlled by feudal overlords, (a.k.a. the politicians or relatives of politicians), who own or oversee most of the agrarian land and industrial base. Being above the law, due to their political influence, these corrupt people can literally get away with murder. Thus, keeping their laborers subdued and underpaid is no hard task. Anyone who dares to complain is used as an ‘example’ for potential future unrest. As a result, the people in their ‘elakhas’, (controlled lands), remain destitute in the throes of poverty, unable to help themselves due to their lack of power and the fear of the ‘thekedars’, (large landowners).
By a lack of power, I refer not to a dearth of physical prowess but to a scarcity of basic human rights. These are the same rights that people in developed countries take for granted. The right to vote for whomever one feels like is missing. Instead a lot of villagers are forced to vote for the local land owner due to a combination of fear and ignorance; a fear of the repercussions of a potential loss by the feudal lord and the ignorance of any means to escape this same overlord’s wrath. Very often there is also no choice of candidates. There are very few people willing to risk their own and their families’ safety by running against their