Good governance combined with major changes in national policies can help to rectify the problem of increasing poverty in Pakistan. Successful execution of national policies, though, would require awareness among the masses to vote for honest and able leaders, and consequently, genuine and definite efforts by the elected leaders. In addition to good governance, unbiased and well-constructed universal accountability systems, observance of constitutional provisions and protection of the fundamental rights of citizens are needed.
To address the problem of rural poverty, policies that can achieve results without imposing land reforms should be formulated. These policies can include, determining agricultural output prices based on global market prices and ensuring a constant and well-timed accessibility to agricultural inputs. To start with, agricultural inputs, such as electricity and equipment should be treated as capital goods and need to be considered important. Concrete steps should be taken to improve the water management and irrigation systems and such systems should be priced impartially. Measures should also be taken to control smuggling, hoarding and black-marketing.
Pursuing the solutions further, the State Bank of Pakistan should stop printing notes for government spending and should ensure a better flow of credit to agriculture. Banks should also be encouraged to provide loans to the agricultural sector, in order to create more employment opportunities and to decrease the rural-urban migration. The rural areas should get a share in federal development expenditure in proportion to their population. Additionally, proper infrastructure should be established to minimize the effects of natural disasters and to improve the quality of output. A fair share of income should be guaranteed to farmers and this income should not be determined by biased landowners. Agricultural incomes that are equivalent to urban incomes should also have similar tax rates. The earnings from these taxes can then be utilized for the welfare of rural population, for instance, by supplying medical facilities and clean water to them. Most importantly, though, education should be compulsory and free up to high school and only relevant skills should be taught at schools.
To counter urban poverty, several policies can be implemented. The sizes of the public sector, civil and military bureaucracies should be reduced, and loss-making public entities should be privatized to create productive jobs. The fiscal and monetary policies should focus on supporting private sector investment in order to reduce inflation and to create better job opportunities. As a result, poverty in general will go down. To reduce exploitation of urban workers, a legislation to ensure minimum wage, medical conveniences and wide-ranging social security and retirement saving systems should be devised. State expenses should be reduced by cutting down on government borrowings. Moreover, town planning for low-income groups should be done by shifting focus from housing plans for rich towards the lower-income classes. Finally and most importantly, the education system needs to be restructured in order to produce quality students having relevant skills.
Pakistan would eventually drift towards having drastic class conflicts if the problems of rural and urban poverty are not addressed. Good governance combined with proper implementation of policies and regular checks can not only help to eradicate poverty from Pakistan, but can also take us a step forward towards becoming a developed nation.