Pakistan Population and Economy in the 1990’s

By | December 18, 2021


According to some estimates, in 1998 the population amounted to almost 148.2 million residents (to which we must add at least one million Afghan refugees, mostly hospitalized in special camps). It includes a great variety of ethnic groups, evidenced by the number of languages ​​spoken: even if the official ones are Urdū and English, other languages ​​of the Indian and Iranian families are widespread (balucī, brahūī, sindhī, panjābī, pashtū, khowār, kohistānī, shina, burushaski and baltī are the most important).

The religious compactness is greater: the official religion of the state is Sunni Islam (77 %), with a strong Shiite Muslim community (20 %); Christians are only 2 %, while almost all Hindus have been expelled, and welcomed by India after the partition in 1947. However, within the common Islamic faith, which represents the strongest reason for national cohesion, there are significant differences, as there seems to be a situation of unstable equilibrium between those who have a reformist vision of Islam and those who instead want to impose one. traditionalist interpretation. These opposing views of the religious problem constitute one of the strongest reasons for the frequent social clashes that periodically plague Pakistan. For Pakistan 2014, please check

At the 1998 census the federal capital, Islāmābād, reached 524,500 residents, but the most populous city remains Karāchī, on the coast: the former capital, architect of a great development, has become one of the most active centers, in terms of economic and cultural, of South Asia (almost 10 million residents in the urban area). The rapid growth of the city, with the massive influx of heterogeneous and poor population from rural areas, has given rise to serious social and public order problems, for which Karāchī is today one of the most modern and at the same time most turbulent cities in the region. Lahore (5,063,499 residents) And Faisalabad (1. 977 246ab.), both in the Panjab, are the other important cities, followed by many centers with more than 100. 000 residents.

The average per capita income is higher than in India; life expectancy at birth is about 60 years, the rate of population growth is still very high (at the end of the nineties fell by 3 % per year to 2, 8 %, the 41 % of the population is under 15 years), 38 % of adults are literate, but only 50% of children regularly attend school; social services are quite widespread, especially in the urban environment. However, strong economic differences persist between the different regions and between social classes: the richest area is the irrigated agricultural area of ​​the Panjab, where a large part of the population is concentrated.

Economic conditions

In the first fifty years of independence, Pakistan underwent a continuous but tiring process of modernization and economic development, made difficult by internal political and social instability and by the unsolved dispute with India for the possession of Kashmir and others. northern territories, inhabited by predominantly Muslim populations. The Pakistan devotes 26 % of his budget to defense, and in 1974 he tested an atomic device (experiment which was repeated in the first months of 1998); as long as the Soviet occupation of Afghānistān lasted, the Pakistan received substantial military and economic aid from the United States, which was then resumed in 1996.

Since 1980, Pakistan has registered strong growth in gross domestic product (around 6 %, one of the highest in South Asia), and has improved its entire production structure. However, starting from the second half of the nineties the economic situation has progressively deteriorated and the International Monetary Fund threatened to stop granting any credit if the Pakistan had not contained its deficit to 4 % of GDP. The government therefore launched an austerity policy and tried to accelerate the privatization program, which however did not produce the desired effects, as international investors lost confidence in this country, which is judged to be at high risk. In1995 – 96 the inflation rate was officially 13 %, but it actually reached a much higher percentage. In 1996 the rupee was devalued by 17 %, the prices of food products rose sharply, while remittances from emigrants decreased significantly.

The most important economic sector continues to be agriculture, which absorbs almost 50 % of the active population: today Pakistan is the country that has the largest network of irrigation canals in the world, for a total of 17.2 million ha of irrigated area. The cotton and sugar cane crops appear to be in slight decline; food production destined for the internal market, such as cereals (with predominance of wheat and rice), tropical fruit, vegetables, vegetable oils are expanding, according to techniques that are not always modern and rational and in companies of too small size. More than 90 % of farms have an area of ​​less than 10 ha, and a third even 2 hahas; a third is cultivated by tenants, who have difficulty accessing agricultural credit. Breeding and fishing (even if practiced in traditional forms) are still of considerable importance.

The transformation activities are based on the spinning and weaving of cotton, the processing of food products, the production of fertilizers, light mechanics; the most important industrial district is that of Karāchī, which is also the only port in the state. The minerals of the Pakistani subsoil are quite varied (salt, barite, celestite, chromite, coal and hydrocarbons), but overall they have little economic importance; methane and oil do not even cover half of the national needs; a large hydroelectric plant is located in Tarbela, in the mountain section of the Indus, and a thermonuclear power plant is in operation near Karāchī. The transport network is inadequate and the rail system (8775km) still dates back to the period of the British administration. Tourism is not very developed (about 450. 000 visitors per year) and relates more hiking and mountain climbing in the mountainous north.

Foreign trade is always negative as the Pakistan has to import industrial products and various materials, while he exports yarns and fabrics, leather and some products of the manufacturing industries. Commercial relations concern a considerable number of countries, with the prevalence, as regards imports, of the United States, Malaysia, Japan and Germany, which are also the main buyers of Pakistani products.

Pakistan Foreign trade