Cheng Xizhong, a special commentator of China Economic Net, a visiting professor of Southwest University of Political Science and Law, a senior fellow with the Chahar Institute, a former Defense Attache in South Asian Countries, a former UN Senior Military Observer
In mid-August 2018, Pakistani cricket star and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Imran Khan was sworn in as the 22nd Prime Minister of Pakistan. Since he took office, Imran Khan has vowed to lift Pakistan out of poverty as one of the most urgent tasks of his governance, and has taken a series of effective measures.
Objectively speaking, Pakistan's poverty alleviation work is very difficult. First, the country's economic situation is poor and now the per capita GDP is only about 1,500 U.S. dollars. Second, the population under poverty is large. Though the official figure is 40%, in fact, it may be much above this figure. A friend who has been studying Pakistan for a long time told me that the rich people account for less than 5% and the middle-class people who can live a relatively decent life occupy less than 20% in Pakistan. According to his calculation, the population with various difficulties in life should be around 75%. This means that most of the people are under poverty. Third, Pakistan has a large poverty-stricken area. The entire southwest, northwest, and northern regions are poor and backward. Even the more developed Punjab and Sindh provinces and big cities such as Islamabad and Karachi also have poor areas and poor people. Therefore, it will be a long time and arduous task to get rid of poverty in Pakistan.
It has been already 72 years since Pakistan`s independence. In the past 72 years, Pakistan has experienced three wars with India. Although there has been no new Indo-Pakistan war since 1971, Pakistan has been facing very strong military pressure along the eastern border. From time to time, there have been exchanges of fire and armed confrontations, so Pakistan has to consume a lot of financial resources. Second, since the beginning of this century, Pakistan has been severely disrupted by the U.S. operations on terrorism, and then has been struggling to cope with the terrorist situation from the western front. Therefore, it is not easy for Pakistan. With the narrow terrain and the long borders at both the eastern side and the western side, Pakistan are under great pressures. At the same time, there are serious contradictions, constant disputes, frequent terror attacks and a lot of other problems in the country. All the above-mentioned problems seriously affect the social and economic development in Pakistan.
Many Pakistani friends told me that with the joint project China-Pakistan economic corridor under construction, Pakistani people now have seen the hope of the country's future. At present, 10 out of the 22 projects under the corridor framework have been completed and have started to generate economic benefits, and the other 12 are under construction. After the completion of all the projects, the problems of power shortage and transportation infrastructure backwardness in Pakistan will be more or less solved. It will vigorously drive the rapid development of the industrial and service industries and gradually realize the transition from an agricultural-driven economy to a technology-knowledge driven economy. It will greatly enhance Pakistan's manufacturing capabilities, comprehensive national strength and international competitiveness. This is the core and fundamental element of the poverty alleviation and will benefit all Pakistani people.
We highly appreciate Prime Minister Imran Khan’s determination and efforts to alleviate poverty. However, I feel that it is not so easy to get rid of the poverty and backwardness of a country in a short time. It will take a long time and we have to make hard and tireless efforts. To get rid of the poverty, all the political parties, the central and local governments and all the people in the country have to make concerted efforts with one strong will. It is necessary to work hard to create a safe and stable social environment. It is also necessary for the relevant countries in the region to follow the Shanghai Spirit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization on the issue of combating extremism and terrorism.