MARLTON, New Jersey — In Pakistan, the number of people living below the poverty line has decreased slightly over the years. However, even with the progress made there is still work to be done, which is where Pakistan’s digital policy aims to help. Back in 2001, the poverty rate in Pakistan was 64.3%, a number that could rival Africa, which is one of the poorest areas in the world. Fast forward to 2015, the rate decreased to 24.3%, a perfect 40% drop over 14 years. It’s always good for a number like this to continue to trend down, but when almost 52 million people are still affected by poverty, no one can be truly satisfied by the data.
The Unemployment Rate
In 2020, Pakistan’s unemployment rate was 4.65%, somewhat lower than America’s current unemployment rate of 5.2%. Nonetheless, nearly 13 million people in the country are unable to sustain a job. While having a lower unemployment rate than other countries is good, citizens are still incurring financial damage. However, Pakistan is looking to change this with different policies directly relating to technology.
A New Digital Policy
Recently, two groups in Pakistan came together and to propose a new digital policy. The first group is Oxfam, a charitable organization with the mission to fight poverty and injustice across the world. The second group is the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication. According to Business Recorder, the two groups held a meeting to discuss “ways to include rural youth especially women, transgender persons, and disabled persons in the [Digital Pakistan Policy of 2021] DPP 2021.”
According to Dawn, the purpose of this policy is for the government of Pakistan to strive “to improve its citizens’ quality of life and economic well-being by ensuring availability of accessible, affordable, reliable, universal and high quality ICT [Information Communication Technology] services.” And, by enabling access to different technologies, Pakistan can also “enable cross-sector socio-economic development and transformation of economic activities, governance models, social interaction and achievement of sustainable development goals.” Some of the Sustainable Development Goals include no poverty, no hunger, clean water, clean energy and gender equality.
Growth and Development
Syed Junaid Imam, a member of the IT department for the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunications, stated that this policy will enable growth and development within the country. The youth make up 60% of the population and women make up nearly half of the population. Ensuring women, specifically girls, have access to this technology as men and boys do is extremely beneficial. It will reduce inequality, increase productivity and provide access to healthcare and education. In other words, it will ensure “equitable participation in social, political and economic spheres” reducing isolation. This law will create a new way of life and regenerate Pakistan’s economy.
Thanks to Pakistan’s digital policy, the country will be able to provide decent work (a Sustainable Development Goal) thus promoting economic growth. Recent data shows that Pakistan is in a decline, their GDP is approximately 278 billion, while America’s GDP is more than 21 trillion. However, this digital policy is a substantial step in the right direction.
– Matt Orth