Islamabad (Fides Service) – The economic and social situation of the people of Pakistan has always been a major concern for the local Catholic Church which more than once, also recently, has stressed the need to decrease military spending and make peace with India in order to allow the country’s economy to improve and develop. speaking recently with Fides, Archbishop Lawrence Saldhana, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, said that Pakistan’s political leaders should show more concern for the well being of the people and find ways to eliminate poverty: more than 35% of Pakistanis live on less than a dollar a day.
The Archbishop’s words have been confirmed in a report “Human Development in Southern Asia 2003: the Challenge of Employment”, produced by the Mehbub-u-Haq Development Centre in Islamabad. The report says that the rates of poverty and unemployment in Pakistan have increased in the last 15 years and are now the highest in southern Asia.
The report says that “structural adjustments” and macro-economic projects launched by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, meant to re-launch the country’s economy, stop inflation and stimulate economic growth, failed in these objectives
The report gives examples: percentage of women’s economic activity lowest in the area 15,4% compared to 43,5% in India, 57,2% in Bangladesh. Unemployment in Pakistan is 7,8%, the highest rate on the sub-continent.
The report highlights inadequacy in Pakistan with regard to human development touching social and political indicators such as education, health-care, birth-rate, equal opportunities, corruption, political stability. (PA) (Fides Service 16/1/2004 lines 26 words 231)