Pakistan currently ranks in the bottom 20 of the 144 economies around the world, according to the Global Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2012-13. Sixty million Pakistanis, or one-third of the country’s rapidly growing population, continue to live below the poverty line. Pakistan’s economic growth rate, estimated at 3.67 percent, remains insufficient to generate jobs and contribute to poverty reduction.
Pakistan lags behind its commitment under the Millennium Development Goals, particularly in the areas of education and health. Half of all Pakistani men and two-thirds of all women are illiterate. Insufficient primary care remains another major obstacle: one in 11 children die before their 5th birthday and 14,000 mothers die in childbirth annually. Natural disasters also represent an obstacle to poverty alleviation and economic growth. In 2010, strong rains caused flooding across the country and put 14 million people in need of assistance. The Asian Development Bank and World Bank estimate that recovery and reconstruction following the storm will require $10 billion.
In addition to its socio-economic problems, Pakistan suffers from troubled foreign relations with the United States and other regional tensions which jeopardize the country’s longer-term development. Pakistan’s association with Islamic terrorism, an unstable and porous border with Afghanistan, and tense relations with India are some of the more prominent geopolitical risks facing the South Asian country.
The United Kingdom is currently the fourth-largest donor to Pakistan. The Department for International Development has identified Pakistan as a priority country — a move that can be traced to U.K. national security interests as well as the large Pakistani population residing in the United Kingdom. By 2015, Pakistan will receive the largest chunk of U.K. aid — 1.4 billion pounds, up 107 percent from 2010. DfID appears to be taking a long-term approach in its commitment to Pakistan by investing in education, primary health, domestic and cross-border security, and economic growth.