Influence of Eurocentricism on Pakistan

Posted: 11:07pm, Wednesday, 17 January 2024.

The dominance or prioritizing of European culture, history, and values often at the expense of other cultures and regions throughout the world is referred to as Eurocentrism. It's a worldview that regards Europe and its descendants as central, superior, or the benchmark for all other societies and cultures. The term has its roots in historical and colonial contexts and has impacted academics, politicians, economists, and cultural norms, among other facets of global perception. It started during the time when European countries were exploring and colonizing other parts of the world.

The roots of eurocentrism lie in the history of European colonialism and imperialism. Eurocentrism gained prominence during the Enlightenment era (17th to 19th centuries), when European philosophers, scientists, and scholars began asserting the superiority of European ideas, technology, and societal structures. This belief in the superiority of European culture and values over other civilizations became deeply ingrained in academic, social, and political discourse.

Pakistan, like many post-colonial nations, has battled with the legacy of Eurocentrism, stemming from its historical colonization by the British Empire. The colonial rule imposed by the British not only exploited local resources but also enforced economic systems that served their own interest. The introduction of cash crops, extraction of raw materials, and establishment of industries primarily served the economic needs of the colonizers, often neglecting the potential for indigenous economic growth. this Eurocentric approach led to the emergence of an economic system heavily dependent on exporting primary goods, perpetuating Pakistan’s position as a supplier of raw materials rather than a producer of value-added goods. Even after gaining independence, this mindset continued to influence how Pakistan developed and interacted globally, often favoring Western ideas and leaving a lasting impact on many aspects of life.

Furthermore, Pakistan's educational systems were impacted by Eurocentric policies, which gave preference to Western knowledge and curriculum over local wisdom and practices. Due to this educational bias, local knowledge systems and expertise were viewed as less valuable, which diminished their potential to contribute to economic development. A brain drain was exacerbated by the emphasis on Western education, as many talented people left the country in search of better opportunities overseas. This shows how much influence European values and practices have had over us.

The economic impact of eurocentrism on Pakistan manifests in balance of payments and dependency. The economic world order, which is primarily influenced by western powers, has favored trade terms that are often detrimental to countries like Pakistan. Unfair tariff barriers, trade practices and unequal international agreements have hampered Pakistan’s ability to compete on an equal basis in the global market. In addition, the imposition of structural adjustment programs by western dominated financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund has led to austerity measures and policies which have negatively impacted the local economy of Pakistan and prolonging the cycle of dependency. The Eurocentric lens has also influenced how development and advancement are perceived. With its focus on industrialization and urbanization, the Western-centric model of development has overshadowed the significance of sustainable and culturally suitable methods of growth. This bias has led to the neglect of rural areas and traditional livelihoods widening the socio-economic divide in Pakistan.

Western organizations like the IMF have played a significant role in shaping Pakistan’s economy, often reflecting Eurocentric biases. The IMF has frequently prescribed economic policies and structural adjustment programs to countries like Pakistan, aiming to stabilize their economies and and promote growth. However, these programs often come with stringent requirements that heavily influence domestic policies, favoring a Western-centric economic model. IMF interventions in Pakistan have resulted in the devaluation of the currency, the privatization of state-owned enterprises, the imposition of austerity measures, and a decrease in public spending. Although these policies are intended to alleviate immediate financial difficulties, they frequently widen the gap between rich and poor, increase dependency on foreign assistance, and perpetuate a cycle of dependency. The conditions imposed by western institution’s such as the IMF are Eurocentric in nature, focusing on financial stability and free market principles based on western economic model, which may not always align with the diverse needs and circumstances of countries like Pakistan.

We need to address the economic impact of Eurocentrism in Pakistan with a multifaceted approach. This means redefining economic policies to prioritize local industries and encourage value addition to raw materials within the country. It’s also crucial to invest in our education system so that it integrates indigenous knowledge with western education to harness the full potential of human capital in Pakistan.  Furthermore, advocating for fair trade practices on the global stage and seeking equitable international agreements are key steps towards reducing dependency on other countries and fostering economic autonomy.

In conclusion, the long-term impact of Eurocentrism on Pakistan's social and economic structure highlights the need for a radical change. Due to its historical roots in colonial legacies, Eurocentrism has influenced educational systems, trade dynamics, and economic structures, which has hampered indigenous development and prolonging dependency. To break free from this historical imprint, Pakistan needs a holistic approach. This entails strengthening local enterprises, incorporating indigenous knowledge into education, diversifying trade partnerships, and giving priority to inclusive and sustainable development models. Pakistan can break free from the shackles of Eurocentric influence by forging a course that recognizes its unique cultural heritage and promotes economic independence. Embracing these changes will help Pakistan move towards a more promising and independent future through fostering an inclusive, resilient society that prospers on its own terms in addition to boosting economic growth.

By Mohammed Bin Usman Rafi

The Question of Data in Policy Research

Posted: 12:04am, Wednesday, 19 July 2023.

The terms “informed”, “data-driven”, or “evidence-based” are no longer buzzwords or technical jargon in the policy discourse or research in Pakistan. These are outcome-oriented policy practices, imperative for sustainable development, where data informs the focus and evaluates the impact of interventions. Smart interventions during the pandemic highlighted not only the intent but the capacity and appetite for data-driven policymaking in Pakistan. However, there are some question marks on the pre-requisite for data-driven policymaking and research,

Do we know what we need to know to design, implement, and evaluate policies?
This is primarily a question of data. For informed, evidence-based policymaking, relevant, accurate, and quality data is a pre-requisite. Data matters because it provides evidence and tells stories too. It provides trees for the forest. Collecting data is, however, not enough if it isn’t accessible, usable, and re-usable.

Data accessibility is a challenge. But the bigger issue for most policy researchers, particularly students, is usability and re-usability of publicly available data. A brief overview of the most frequently used data sources in development and policy research highlights the two main issues, namely,
• Indicator relevance
• Data accuracy issues

What do these issues look like? Consider the example of the Pakistan Living Standard Measurement Survey (PSLM). This is the only nationally representative, publicly available, household level, micro data source for development and policy research in Pakistan. It is published every two years, on average, by the Pakistan Bureau of statistics. The illustration here is based on the latest round available, the PSLM 2019-2020.

Indicator Relevance
Research shows that water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) facilities are essential to human health and wellbeing. It is argued that unavailability of water resources and safe sanitation facilities affect women and girls disproportionately. WHO data shows that women serve as primary water carriers for 8 out of 10 households without on-premises access to drinking water. And there may be correlation between time spent on water-carrying duties and school dropout rates of adolescent girls (UNICEF, 2018). Water accessibility is a major issue in Pakistan as well.

According to PSLM 2019-2020, over 32.3% of the households do not have on-premises access to drinking water. So, who is the primary water carrier in these households? Are school dropout rates for adolescent girls higher for households or areas wherein adolescent girls are primary water carriers? PSLM 2019-2020 does not allow us to study the relevant correlations. Because it does not include the indicator on “who is primarily responsible for fetching water?” Similarly, PSLM 2019-2019 data cannot be used to assess if the government should invest in safe public bath houses and toilets for women or where it should make such investments. Because this dataset does not provide gender-disaggregated data on WASH indicators. These are necessary for studying women in households that lack any type of toilet and sanitation facilities have access to safe public/community facilities or not. Consequently, the correlation between lack of safe sanitation facilities and women’s hygiene and health cannot be studied either.

The call for gender-disaggregated WASH data is almost two decades old (UNW-DPC, 2009). However, the primary source of nationally representative household level data in Pakistan either does not cover relevant indicators or does not provide required gender-disaggregated data. Publicly available, transparent data on demographic, social, economic, and human development indicators is essential to sound data-driven policy research.

Data Accuracy Issues
Data on available indicators is still not usable in policy research if it’s not accurate. Data accuracy can be misreporting on behalf of the respondent or miscoding by the enumerator. While misreporting by the respondent may be difficult to trace, for instance in the case of missing women from majority datasets, miscoding is sometimes pretty straightforward to identify. Demographic indicators in the PSLM 2019-2020 dataset provide many examples of data inaccuracy, some of which are as follows.
The PSLM 2019-2020 questionnaire clearly states that the sex or gender of a person can either be coded as “1” for male or “2” for female. However, the dataset has observations of “0” against a person’s sex/gender as well. It is impossible to identify if the individual in question was a male or a female. So, their data cannot be used to answer research questions where gender dis-aggregated data is required. Furthermore, if the researcher in interested in categorizing households by gender of the head, some observations in the dataset are not usable. Why? Because some households have been reported to have multiple household heads. More interestingly, some household heads have been reported to be less than 10 years old, i.e., minors.

The Way Forward?
Sound data-based policy research is a building block of data-driven policymaking architecture. It requires that researchers have access to transparent data. However, the first step in the right direction must be improvement in the relevance and accuracy of already available datasets. A broad-based dialogue is required to understand and incorporate the policy researchers’ data needs to improve data relevance. Skill-training and real-time quality controls are the key to data accuracy. Digitalization of the data collection process can prove to be a consequential shift.

UNICEF. (2018, June). Water, sanitation, and hygiene. Retrieved from UNICEF: (2009). Expert Group Meeting: Gender-disaggregated Data on Water and Sanitation. In J. Seager (Ed.). Bonn, Germany:

UNW-DPC. Retrieved from

By Zahra Mughis

Combating Transnational Counterterrorism - A Challenge for Global Governance

Posted: 11:08pm, Tuesday, 27 June 2023.

Transnational or global terrorism could be one of the best focus of global governance. It exhibits  globalization’s dark side; a transnationally dispersed challenge which can affect any country but can’t be resolved unilaterally. However, the global governance in transnational counterterrorism is most fragmented, sporadic, weak, and contradictory. On the one hand,  global governance measures have been taken to make rules and regulations for countering this threat: UNSC resolutions, UN Counter Terrorism Committee, 14 UN Convention in the international law, and some nations has upgrade their national counterterrorism policies by adding international rules. On the other hand, general and comprehensive understanding and rules for combating transnational terrorism is still defunct. States reluctantly cooperate on transnational counterterrorism partly because of the inefficiency of global governance but mainly contradiction and incompatibility with state level policies. There are three major encumbrances to transnational counterterrorism: development of universally accepted definition of terrorist, identification of counter terrorism way to combat this, and general relationship among states.

A universally accepted definition and identification of global terrorists or terrorism is the most challenging task. The question regarding the identity of “global terrorists” had been highly controversial and contradictory. For example, USA defines both Hizbullah and Hemas as terrorists, but Russia doesn’t attribute Hizbullah as terrorist group. For some states a group could be a terrorist group, but for others they could be freedom fighters-legitimate actors fighting for their self-determination e.g. Kashmiri freedom fighters. This contradiction extends to a level that sometimes states themselves struggle to obstruct the criminal convictions against them.

For unanimity on the definition of a terrorist is adherence to only one dominant ideology, which is not possible. Liberal democracy is most prevalent in the world. However, the two major proponents of liberalism hegemony as a universal ideology are, that can’t be resolved, religious fundamentalism and nationalism. Under the umbrella of a homogenous ideology, there is a core of national interest that reinforces competition and conflict among nations. In international politics, the Hobbesian view of human societies apply which suggests that human societies are inherently aggressive, insecure, and self-interested. So, according to Hobbes, nations would also strive for self-interests rather than global. However, nationalism has not competed with liberalism because it doesn’t have a formal framework to maintain. Also, nationalism had always been presented as a negative desire of self-determination (Hobbesian view) which makes it weak as an ideology. Religion is also a powerful actor in the respect. The worldwide depiction of Muslims as terrorists makes it abhorrent for Muslim and their compassionates to abide by the definition of Islamophobic nations specifically in this matter of terrorism.

The second impediment is that even if we agree on a mutually agreed definition of a terrorist, but we fail to recognize a collaborative measure to fight with them. There are two ways of doing this. Firstly, they can deal with the consequences i.e. physical destruction of terrorists or their occupations. Secondly, dealing with reasons which give birth to terrorists i.e. the development of socioeconomic policies to deal with political, social and economic issues. Such development policies will help prevent the extremism of political and religious extremists. An ideal policy should be combination of both. Mostly, the states use the physical abolition which could exacerbate the problem. For example, if US strikes in Pakistan or Iraq against terrorists would be considered a high aggression against state sovereignty. Moreover, this could also incite the religious sentiments i.e. the attack on the Muslim population by Christian crusades, thereby giving room to the more extremist interventions in future.

The third obstacle in combined strategy is the general relations among states. The contradiction between different states will make them less likely to cooperate. As cooperation among different countries require the collateral use of intelligence forces etc. So, they would only help each other if they don’t think themselves as ally. On the other hand, if they are adversaries then they wouldn’t cooperate at all due to mutual distress e.g. USA and Russia, Iran and Israel etc. Some countries believe in the ‘self-help’ and sovereignty in the global world. Also, some believe that traditional views of global governance are enough and no additional scopes like transnational counterterrorism is unnecessary and artificial.

With respect to state politics, the understanding of such concepts also requires our understanding of political power dimensions either it’s a unipolar, bipolar, or a multipolar. Today, it’s unipolar with USA as a superpower. The general critique on global governance is that ‘does global governance really serves the interest of the globe or the superpowers and global hegemons. As, practically the formal institutions and rules in the UN is mainly made by the US, EU, and the Japan. This creates additional mistrust specifically in the sensitive issues of national security and sovereignty. Structural development policies only reflect the ‘neo-liberal’ or ‘Washington consensus’ which benefits the developed and capital countries. Resultingly, the global governance, critics say, only benefits the national interests of the powerful states i.e. USA which is the center of global rule and policy making.

It is very hard for a global governance to challenge the state sovereignty of the states. Sovereignty suggests that the global rules and regulations should operate according to national jurisdictional space. Therefore, the global governance as a strategy should articulate the national interests in a sophisticated way. This would tie nationalism as a strategy of mobilization, and even ardent nationalists would fall in line.

The disagreement on the definition of terrorists, disparity about the way to combat terrorism, relationship among states, general mistrust on the globalization, nationalism, and the idea of sovereign states makes the global governance of counterterrorism  more fragmented, sporadic, and weak. Certain measures have been taken to make global governance of counterterrorism, but these are very far-fetched and fall well short of an effective and holistic global framework.

Hurrell, A. J. (2006, January). Hegemony, Liberalism and Global Order: What Space for Would-Be Great Powers? Retrieved from

Kacowicz, A. (2012, January). Global Governance, International Order, and World Order. Retrieved from ResearchGate:

Kissinger, H. (2015). Henry Kissinger World Order. Retrieved from ndupress:

By Hurria Binte Abdullah           

Reflection on SDG 5 and Gender Equality: A case of Pakistan

Posted: 8:45pm, Thursday, 24 June 2021.

UN member states adopted the2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015. 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is the set of 17 goals that serve a purpose of blueprint for peace and prosperity and are the urgent call for action by all the countries, be it developing or under developing. (THE 17 GOALS | Sustainable Development, n.d.)However, these goals are more straightforward than done in a region like Pakistan with a complex nature and complicated society (Sehgal, 2020). It is not that Pakistan has wholly ignored these goals, but there is a lot of a grey area. For this writing, I will be focusing on SDG 5, i.e., Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. I will present the image that portrays where Pakistan stands in terms of gender equality and women empowerment, the causes of gender disparity, achievement in gender equality area, and finally concluding with whether this goal is attainable by 2030.

As a woman citizen of Pakistan, women empowerment and gender equality are of my concern; hence I believe that SDG 5,is critical to be achieved by 2030 because gender quality is a right of every human being (women and the SDGs, n.d.). Focusing on SDG 5 will lead to achieving gender equality and achieve SDG 1, i.e., ending poverty, and SDG 2,i.e., zero hunger. In the long term, it will also help achieve SDG 10, i.e., Reduced Inequalities, and SDG 16, i.e., Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions(Kamali-Chirani, 2021). As mentioned above, there is a lot of a grey area for SDGs in Pakistan; SDG 5 is a great challenge due to a couple of reasons, i.e., gender disparity, negative religious influence, misogynistic culture, etc and patriarchal society and lack of awareness and education. Pakistan has achieved quite a lot in gender equality, but it is still not up to the mark. On papers, gender has been considered significant, but the situation is very different yet alarming (Kamali-Chirani, 2021).

Article 25 says;  
1. All citizens are to be equal before the law and entitled to the protection of the law
2. There shall be no discrimination based on sexes  
3. The state can create special laws and rules for specific issues facing women and children that are being ignored (Sustainable     Development Goal 5: Achieve Gender Equality and Empower All Women and     Girls, 2019)

Even though half of 210 million of the population are women in Pakistan, Pakistan ranks 150 in economic participation and opportunities. And 93 in Women's political empowerment(Kamali-Chirani, 2021). Compared to 15 years ago, more girls are school going, and Pakistan has comparatively reached gender parity in primary education. There are more women in the labor market. However, there are still significant inequalities in some regions, particularly inner Sindh and Baluchistan, with women systematically denied the same work as men. The unequal behavior of paid labor and discrimination in offices is the biggest of many hurdles in achieving gender equality (Goal 5: Gender equality: UNDP in Pakistan, n.d.).

There are a couple of factors that contribute to this disparity. A few of them, as mentioned above, are a patriarchal society, misogynistic culture, and religious fanatism. The halfhearted efforts of politicians and the elite class dampen the prospects for the achievement of SDGs. The problem with Pakistan is that the political elite of feudal and tribal tock has accommodated a section of wealth, and SDG 5 is no expectation (Khan & Ali, 2019).

Rape and Harassment are criminal offenses in Pakistan's law, yet Pakistan is the most unsafe place for women. Every other day a rape crime occurs, and the victim is blamed rather than punishing the perpetrator. The victim is blamed for not taking the scarf properly or for leaving the house. "At some point or another, most Pakistani women have found themselves on the receiving end of the inherent double standard stemming from such convoluted logic; where their safety is entirely in their own hands but somehow simultaneously in the hands of every man of family; where a woman must ensure that our bodies are covered and kept indoors after dark (because men only turn into predators after sundown) but if a woman get harassed during the day then that is just an occupational hazard of being a woman in our culture"(Amir, 2020).

Despite the challenges and disparity, Pakistan has been able to achieve some progress in SDG 5implication. Linking human rights with Pakistan's SDGs 2030 Agenda FOSPAH functional at the federal and provincial level has been quite active in women's protection and awareness campaigns. FOSPAH office has instituted a formal code of conduct to be implemented at workplace harassment and ensure a safe working environment. The National Commission on Status of Women(NCSW) has prepared a comprehensive roadmap in preventing violence against women. Senate, in April 2019,approved the Child Marriage Restraint Bill, which proposes the legal minimum age of 18 (Sehgal, 2020).

This progress and achievement are the sign of hope, but realistically speaking, there is room for improvement and areas to work on. Achieving gender equality and women empowerment is integral to all 17 SDGs; hence, SDG 5 is exceptionally pertinent. If Pakistan fails to implicate SDG 5, it'll fail to achieve the other 17 SDGs. Gender equality is a fundamental human right and a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous, sustainable world. Because child marriage still prevails, and women as compared to men are still underrepresented, peace is difficult to prevail unless gender parity isn't achieved. Since our current measures and campaigns are poorly planned and managed, Pakistan is in crisis for sustainability.

Wrapping up the discussion by concluding that proper awareness and re-education of the masses is the need of the hour. Moreover, gender-balanced policies are required for the implication of women empowerment and gender equality.

Amir,M. (2020, 9 16). In Pakistan, rape culture is not only systemic, it is reinforced at every level. Retrieved from DAWN.COM:
Gender equality and women's empowerment – United Nations Sustainable Development. (n.d.). Retrieved 5 21, 2021, from United Nations:
Goal 5 | Department of Economic and Social Affairs.(n.d.). Retrieved 5 21, 2021, from United Nations:
Goal 5 | Department of Economic and Social Affairs.(n.d.). Retrieved 5 21, 2021, from United Nations:
Goal 5: Gender equality: UNDP in Pakistan.(n.d.). Retrieved from UNDP:
Kamali-Chirani,F. (2021, 1 18). Pakistan needs gender-responsive policies to achieve SDG 5. Retrieved from Southern Voice:,SDG%202%20(zero%20hunger).
Khan,A. J., & Ali, W. (2019, 2 1). Capacity Development Challenges in the way ofSDGs implementation in Pakistan. Sustainable Development Policy Institute, 2-6. Retrieved from
Sehgal, H. F. (2020, 1 19). Gender Parity SDG 5:approaching the goals for success. Retrieved from Daily Times :
Sustainable Development Goal 5: A Legislative and Policy Gap Analysis for Balochistan. (2018, 1 29). Retrieved from LEAD Pakistan:
Sustainable Development Goal 5: Achieve Gender Equality and Empower All Women and Girls.(2019). Consolidating Democracy in Pakistan , 8-9.
THE 17 GOALS | Sustainable Development.(n.d.). Retrieved 5 21, 2021, from United Nations:
women and the sdgs. (n.d.). Retrieved 5 21, 2021, fromunwoman:

By Kashaf Imran          

Covid-19 and the Effect on Lower Income Groups

Posted: 3:07pm, Sunday, 27 December 2020.

Poverty is usually defined as the deprivation of wellbeing, which results in an inability to meet the basic needs of the individual and family. The issue of poverty that is faced in most parts of the world has always been at the heart of discussions and discourse on development. Poverty has always caught attention of the researchers around the globe and they have tried to address poverty with numerous theories, concepts, frameworks and studies. What comes in the front is that there are certain common issues that lead to the persistence of poverty in some parts of the world. The absolute definition of poverty in many countries is where the poverty line is not defined in terms of some defined needs, but as a fixed proportion of mean income of the population i-e how many people earn below $1 and $2 per day. (Bourguignon 2004) Poverty in any country implies hunger and malnourishment. As for Pakistan it is a third world country, and significant amount of people are suffering from this disease of poverty resulting hunger and undernourishment in them.

COVID-19 has taken the world by storm; it was announced as a global pandemic on 18-March-2020 by the World Health Organization. Within less than a period of one month the pandemic has impacted the world, affecting millions of people.

Presently, Pakistan has recorded over 470,000 Coronavirus cases, the total number of deaths has surpassed 9,816, and the total number of recovered cases is 420,489 (Worldometer 2020). This has severely affected the already waning condition of Pakistan’s economy, thus affecting the poor class in many ways. Although the disease may not differ between the rich and the poor, the people living below the poverty line, and working on daily wages have lost more than they can afford. The main reason is the vulnerability of the poor towards this disease due to lack of awareness regarding social distancing and general hygiene care. The termination of thousands of employees because of the partial and complete lockdowns in the country has not only created significant unemployment but the lower income class are suffering to meet their basic needs too.

The healthcare facilities have reached their saturation point and the skewed provision of healthcare makes the poor more susceptible to this disease because of the lack of healthcare services and facilities available to them. The poor people are in the most vulnerable state with less or no access to the basic facilities in healthcare.

Moreover, the biggest challenge faced by Pakistan is not the virus but to raise awareness among the people of the consequences of the virus itself so they may follow the guidelines issued by the state. Due to lack of awareness regarding the disease and the societal norm of being tagged as “sick”, the poor people  do not follow the guidelines given by the government and keep on working. The situation is very complex as the poor people cannot afford even a smart lockdown and without these restrictions people will be exposed to the virus.

Due to the emerging second wave of COVID-19 another big obstacle is standing up tall for the government that is the utmost demand of people to enforce a complete lockdown again. In the case of schools, the parents are vigorously demanding the closure of educational institutions as they are becoming a threat to their children and exposing them to COVID-19. The government needs to take effective and prompt action to overcome this second wave which may wreak more havoc than the first, keeping in mind the less privileged of society.

By Afsheen Talat          

Is the behavior of its people during the pandemic a serious threat for Pakistan?

Posted: 4:47pm, Monday, 23 November 2020.

The pandemic caused by Covid-19 has led uncertainty for the whole world and has brought many countries to their knees; developed and underdeveloped alike. The sheer number of deaths, regardless of living in an era of medical and technological advancements has been a jolting reminder that we cannot compete with nature. The brunt of the disease has been borne unequally by the states; more brutal on underdeveloped and developing countries than developed countries.

In Pakistan, the first case was reported in February and a smart lockdown was imposed by the end of March. The government introduced a smart lockdown policy with the belief that by introducing a partial shutdown, the majority of Pakistanis under the poverty line would be able to work and sustain their livelihoods without risking their health and simultaneously providing the fragile health system with some room to cater to the shockingly growing health needs.

Federal and provincial governments made all attempts to use media efficiently to spread awareness about the presence of a deadly virus to the masses and also informing them of the precautionary measures or SOPs and guidelines encouraged by World Health Organization (WHO). However, the reality was in stark difference to the measures Pakistani government promoted. The public thought that smart lockdown- shutting of educational institutions- was an extension on summer holidays months away from March and travelled and mingled with distant friends and family. While conspiracy theories took root and were rampant about how this was only to prevent Muslims from going to mosques and religious sites. This series of misinformation and propaganda led to people recklessly ignoring life-saving SOPs. Misinformation was not only limited to the origins and authenticity of the virus, it engulfed how the corrupt health system workers would on purpose infect others when they visited testing centers to get tested. Whereas, some resorted to home-made remedies for the treatment of the virus and others followed SOPs and stayed at home. Doctors made tremendous efforts to educate the people but the dwindling health care system was put through a nerve-racking test. Hospitals were filled with infected patients and exposed many medical health workers, nurses and other staff included. With the strain on protective gear and growing patients, many essential health care workers were lost. Eventually, the cases and death toll plummeted and showed the situation was in control as compared to other countries in the region and globally.

The rise in reported cases is evident once again after relaxations on lockdown post August 2020. According to data provided by Government of Pakistan, from a total of 4,847,105 tests conducted, 352,296 cases were confirmed as positive with 7,092 deaths, of these, 321,563 patients have recovered. The increase in total cases and deaths can be seen clearly in the graphs maintained by World meters:

Considering the prevailing situation, mini-smart lock down strategy has once again been adopted by the government, with the belief that by introducing curfews and lockdown in infected neighborhoods for several days until all are tested negative.

The strategy of smart lock can be considered successful in terms of cases, deaths and recovery rate as compared to some other developing countries such as India, which is going through a nightmarish situation. People of these areas move freely and are not ready to adopt safety measures. The continued violations of SOPs can be seen everywhere. The local and federal governments are trying to ensure people to follow SOPs and the deputy commissioner of Islamabad is penalizing drivers with Rs.100 if not wearing a mask. Provincial governments also imposed smart lockdown and restrictions in infected areas. The governments are considering sealing marriage halls, public places, universities, schools and colleges until January. The most important fact is self-awareness among people to realize the existence of the life-threatening virus and to follow SOPs earnestly. The behavior of people of Pakistan towards the virus is a major obstacle in the spread of the disease.

[1] Ministry of National Health Services Regulations and Coordination. COVID 19 Situation!.

[2] World/Countries/Pakistan.

(Edited by Mehwish Aziz)

By Amna Naeem           

Achieving Gender Equality through the Economic Empowerment of Rural Women

Posted: 4:37pm, Wednesday, 11 November 2020.

Gender inequality is hailed as the core issue that leads to numerous other forms of discrimination in a society. While numerous countries have shown positive growth towards attaining gender equality in terms of legislation, social protection, equal pay and employment opportunities, health facilities etc., the developing countries present a dismal picture. Inequality among genders has always persisted in developing countries where the economic discrimination, equal opportunities to work and earn livelihood, provision of basic needs such as the right to education and health care are some of the challenges faced in achieving gender equality. One of these countries is Pakistan that is yet to bridge this ever widening gap. One of the core issues faced by women, particularly the rural women in Pakistan is the massive economic disparity between men and women. The economic dependency of majority of the women has given rise to a number of social issues that are adding to this issue.

Pakistan is mainly an agricultural country where approximately 70% of the total population is directly or indirectly dependent upon this sector for livelihood. Both men and women contribute towards the agriculture sector as landowners, farmers and labour. However, owing to the existing farming and tenant practices, women are mostly involved in the agriculture sector as labour force. Their role as financial decision makers is limited which in turns limit the direct economic benefits of their participation in the agriculture sector. The situation is dismal particularly in the rural sphere where women actively participate as labour force in the agriculture sector (Haq 2019). According to the World Economic Forum, Pakistan ranks lowest in terms of overall gender gap in South Asia standing only at 55%. This includes equal opportunities of education, employment, health facilities and political participation.

Agriculture sector is the backbone of the economy of Pakistan and is a major contributor towards the overall GDP. Women play a significant role in the agro-based industries in rural areas. Much of this productive work is done in the fields. However, this accounts to very low level on national level as the female labour participation is only 18.93%  in comparison to 71.97% for men (UN WOMEN, 2018). Approximately, 79% of female rural population is engaged in agriculture sector but its economic benefits for them are far from visible. There are several factors contributing towards this situation including unpaid labour in informal sector where the labour laws and minimum wage standards are not effectively applied. Lack of social security, poor working conditions and contribution made by women as family workers is often categorized as informal labour which brings little or no economic benefit for them (Zaheer 2014). The role of women in agriculture sector has further diminished as a result of mechanization of agriculture sector that is aimed at enhancing the yield in a short time.

The vulnerability of rural women in agriculture sector is further enhanced by the lack of skill development, social constraints and unfavorable working conditions. The mechanization of agriculture sector and repeatedly natural disasters have affected the agriculture sector over the years and the people associated with it, particularly women. The Structural Adjustment Programs (SAP) by International Monetary Fund and other loan agencies have further aggravated the situation (Zaidi, 2018). There is a dire need to equip rural women to meet the numerous challenges that are faced by them in order to make them economically independent. Some of the steps taken in this regard like the Ehsaas Kafaalat program by the Government which provides cash stipends of Rs. 2000 on monthly basis is a positive step in this regard. However, in order to empower rural women, especially the ones associated with agriculture sector, they must be provided with equal opportunities, skill based training and education and recognized as essential workforce.

In conclusion, economic empowerment of rural women is one of the fundamental aspects of their empowerment and right as a citizen of the state. Gender equality cannot be achieved merely by financial assistance of women as they need to be treated as equal and essential part of not just the labour force but of the nation as well. This can only be ensured through gender inclusive policy development and implementation that is aimed at the uplift of women in all spheres of influence within the society.

[1] UN WOMEN (2018). Rural Women in Pakistan Status Report 2018. UN WOMEN Online. Retreived from
[2] Zaidi, Y. (2018). Pathways to Reducing Women’s Vulnerability to Climate Shocks and Stressors Recognizing Women as a Driving Force – Economic Participation and Empowerment. Center of Gender & Policy Studies. Retreived from
[3] Haq, M. A. Akram, F. Ashiq, U. & Raza, S. (2019). The employment paradox to improve women’s empowerment in Pakistan. Retreived from
[4] Zaheer, R. Zeb, A. & Khattak, S.W. (2014). Women participation in Agriculture in Pakistan (An overview of the constraint and problems faced by rural women). Retreived from

By Mashal Riaz

Economic lessons from Turkey and Malaysia for Pakistan and challenges of FATF and Corona Pandemic

Posted: 5:10 pm, Tuesday, 3 November 2020.

Turkey and Malaysia have always been associated as cultural and economic influence on Pakistan. Now more than ever Turkey’s cultural impact on Pakistan is quite obvious in our media. Malaysia on the other hand became a model of economic growth in the 90s decade and still is considered a success for Pakistanis. However, we have to also consider where Pakistan stands as a country facing the international challenges of Corona pandemic and FATF having a lot of impact on its economy.

It is well known that globalization has an adverse impact on the state; in which the state faces economic and political crisis. These crisis emerge due to increasing demands for goods and services from the public. And the external pressures form the international community competing for markets. In a situation like this the state needs to grab on to the best opportunity it has and move ahead for progress of its communities and the world as well.

Right now, Pakistan is faced with a number of militaristic and economic challenges at the same time for which the government has worked tirelessly. But its economy has taken significant hits over the past few years. Moreover, the changing international political scenario has also provided Pakistan with opportunities of alliances with Malaysia and Turkey. Both of these countries are progressive Muslim nations and therefore have suitable impacts on our economic and foreign policies. There is an opportunity for Pakistan to learn from these countries about manufacturing and exports.

Turkey has embraced export as its backbone of economy. It is ranked 33rd in the ease of doing business index and these business policies have rendered it to become a large exporter of goods as well. Whereas, Pakistan stood on 136th position last year in ease of doing business ranking. Although its position has improved and has come up to 108th rank this year. Secondly, Turkey is exporting heavy machinery such as transport equipment, metal manufactures, plastic as well as apparel, electronics, textile and foodstuff. While Pakistan’s top 10 exports include raw material and clothing.

It is a fact that Malaysia saw a significant improvement in its economy after industrialization. As of today Malaysia had an Industrial production index (IPI) of 2.4 in the year 2020. Whereas, Pakistan has had a rise in IPI of 5.2%, it saw an all-time high of 14.2% in 2017 and decrease to 41% in 2020. This drastic low was recorded in the month of April which was probably due to the corona pandemic.

These indicators above show that Pakistan has the potential to embark on the same pattern of economic development like Turkey and Malaysia however, it faces two of the greatest challenges of international significance. One of them is the corona pandemic that poses a great threat to the economy and can slow down domestic industrial production. Second is of FATF (Financial Action Task Force) which is probably one of the greatest impediments in ease of doing business in the country, which can arrest the development of the export potential of Pakistan.

In order to overcome these challenges Pakistani nation, and the government will have to work in their own spheres of influence. The people of the country will also have to make correct social and political choices in order to ensure a progressive and bright future for the country.


By Waqas Asmat

A Bird’s Eye view of Economic Growth and Unemployment in Pakistan

Posted: 4:54 pm, Thursday, 15 October 2020.

The Sustainable Development Goal 8 aims at achieving sustained economic growth and decent work for all. The objective is to lower unemployment rates and create job opportunity awareness. It also focuses to end modern slavery and human trafficking. Without decent work people will be exposed to be at risk over other SDG’s such as poverty, hunger and loss of good health. Almost half of the world’s population is in the trap of poverty. Earning two dollars a day is not sufficient to fulfill the needs on daily basis. Lack of appropriate employment opportunity for the citizens is creating stressful conditions. This problem is also causing harm to the productivity of Nations leading to negative economic growth. However, international economies are striving hard to achieve a positive economic growth yet slower progress and widened inequalities is not creating enough jobs. According to the International Labour Organization, more than 204 million people were unemployed in 2015. Around 22 million people in the world were unemployed in year 2018. Further, the unemployment rate is expected to increase by 1 million each year and reach 174 million in 2020.

The economic growth rate of Pakistan is observed to be steady in recent years. For supporting positive economic growth it is essential to form vibrant financial sector. Currently Pakistan’s government is taking prominent steps to improve the business climate. Registration procedure for small to medium sized enterprises is made easy. Automated services and integrated portal simplifies the process for registering the company.  Information communication technology has facilitated access to financial services via branchless banking. Similarly, strengthening of labour laws and policies is underway. It is also observed that social protection, minimum wage, working hours and health/safety are being reinforced. One major component of the recently launched poverty alleviation programme, ‘Ehsaas’, is ‘Mazdoor ka Ehsaas’ (compassion for labourers). Under this component, a Labour Expert Group is deliberating on ways to formalize Pakistan’s informal workers. There are a huge percentage of informal workers in Pakistan. Formalizing them is a long and strenuous process. Need of the hour says that immediate and careful steps must be taken.

It is evident that employment rates are depreciating not only in Pakistan but all around the world. To address this issue few solutions can be adopted. Firstly, upgrading the skill development with a view of in-demand skills can be achieved with the collaboration of private sector. This will reduce the ratio of skills’ mismatch encountered amongst the market demand and available labour force. Around half of the Pakistan’s population is women and equal employment opportunities should be available for women. Women participation in the labour force should be facilitated with flexible working hours, fair wages affordable transport and overall safe working environment. In order to meet the SDG target Pakistan’s government needs to revisit its investment environment and work to remove barriers to growth. It has to take considerable steps to form decent working conditions for the workers. The country can achieve these goals by upgrading technology, focusing on innovations and stepping forward towards high value added products. When given a closer look over present conditions, targets of SDG 8 seem highly challenging to achieve by 2030.

[1] Planted, O.,2020. Sustainable Development Goals | One Tree Planted. [online]One Tree Planted. [Accessed 10 October 2020].
[2] UNDP. 2020. Goal8: Decent Work And Economic Growth | UNDP. [online] Available at: <>[Accessed 11 October 2020].
[3] Pakistan’s Implementation Of The 2030 Agenda For Sustainable Development Voluntary National Review. [online] SDG Section Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms Government of Pakistan, pp.46-50.

By Shumaila Mehmood

Clean and Affordable Energy in Pakistan; Essential for a Sustainable Future

Posted: 11:54 am, Wednesday, 14 October 2020.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was launched in 2015 as a part of an ambitious global agenda to reform the current state of the world and transform its prevalent political, social and economic state. Comprising of 17 major goals, the implementation and achievement of the SDGs (2015-2030) in accordance with its timeline is an arduous task. Its requires the collective effort and input of not only the governments and agencies directly involved in the implementation process, but the masses as well.

Pakistan has, in recent years, taken initiatives to comply with the targets of Sustainable Development Goals by starting multiple projects with the aid of national and international partners. The main focus of these efforts has been the achievement of Goal 13, Climate Action in order to offset the adverse impacts of Climate Change. The tree plantation drives held all over the country is a major step in this regard that has so far had a positive impact on decreasing the carbon footprint to a permissible level. However, there are two sectors that are the major contributors to Greenhouse Gas emissions, the agriculture and industrial sectors. In 2012, the combined emissions from these two sectors comprised of 87% of the national average (USAID, 2012). In Pakistan, the Greenhouse Gas emissions grew considerably, about 87% during 1990-2012. One of the major sources of Greenhouse Gases is the energy sector that shares 46% of the total emissions (USAID, 2012).

Electricity, one of the main sources of energy in Pakistan, is conventionally generated using fossil fuels. While the renewable sources such as solar and wind energy is gradually being used as a substitute, the fossil fuel usage continues to dominate the energy sector. While hydel power serves as a primary source of electricity generation, the use of fossil fuels such as coal and petroleum is equally prevalent to meet the energy needs of the country. The fossil fuel consumption for electricity generation has consistently increased from 1990 onward (Saleem, M.W. 2020). The CO2 (one of the major components of Greenhouse Gases) emissions has gradually increased to 0.695 metric ton per capita for the year 2017. Most recently, Pakistan was placed at 134th place out of 166 countries and declared as a country that has achieved the SDG 13. The Sustainable Development Index score of the country was 56.2 in 2020 (Sustainable Development Report, 2020). Though highly commendable, this achievement is a single facet of the SDGs that is interlinked with the remaining goals especially Goal 7, Affordable and Clean Energy. The reason being that without deliberate and meticulously planned phasing out of fossil fuels from the energy sector, the consistency of sustainable development cannot be maintained in the long run.

The climate and energy related goals are interlinked and require ambitious initiatives on national and regional level. The domestic and industrial energy needs of Pakistan as on a steady rise as the decades progress. In this situation, dependence on the conventional means of fossil fuels not only poses a threat to the energy security of the country but is also detrimental to the environment. In order to provide clean and affordable energy for domestic and industrial usage, the phasing out of fossil fuels is the need of the hour. Countries like Norway, Costa Rica and New Zealand are leading the world in taking initiatives that will not only phase out fossil fuels in the coming decade but are also making simultaneous efforts in providing alternate affordable and clean energy to consumers (World Resources Institute, 2020). United Kingdom has announced to ban the usage of fossil fuel vehicles in 2035. Germany has recently taken initiatives in phasing out nuclear energy and replacing it with clean energy options. There are several ways in which the phasing out of fossil fuels can be carried out. Some of the methods employed globally include elimination of fossil fuel subsidies and enforcing carbon pricing. Enhancing investment in clean energy sector and replacing the use of fossil fuels in domestic sphere are most important steps that can help in gradual replacement. In addition, a conducive environment must be created for phasing out of coal by minimizing the adverse transitional impacts on communities, industries and other sectors that are highly dependent upon energy for their functioning.

Conclusively, the Sustainable Development Goals particularly the climate action and clean and affordable energy are directly interlinked with one another in terms of their impact on the population and environment. It is highly important that due consideration is given to both areas by taking initiatives that would complement the progress made in either sector.

[1] Climate Links (2020). Climate links resource library. Greenhouse Gas Emissions Factsheet: Pakistan.     
[2] Saleem, M.W. Tahir, M.H. & Ashfaq, M.W. (2020). Fossil fuel based Carbon footprint of Pakistan and its role towards sustainable development. Proceedings of International Conference on Mechanical Engineering -2020 (ICME-20) Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, UET, Lahore, Pakistan,
[3] United Nations (2020). Sustainable Development Goals Report 2020. Department of Economic Affairs. Statistics Division. Retrieved from  
[4] World Resources Institute (2020). Energy. Retrieved from

By Mashal Riaz

Is it Justified to See Population as the Major Obstacle to Sustainable Development?

Posted: 10:38 pm, Monday, 12 October 2020.

According to Malthus (1798), “the power of population is so superior to the power of the Earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race”. The Malthusian question has been used recently to stimulate arguments about the Earth’s carrying capacity. Malthusianism raises an issue of global importance and it is based on the relationship between population and environmental degradation. Consequently, there is an urgency to investigate whether or not population can be seen as the major obstacle to sustainable development. The fact that 3 of the 8 UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015 were dealing with population emphasises the relevance of the Malthusian theory in international development. The Malthusian question is centred around the idea of scarcity, because land and resources on Earth are finite while the desire of human beings is infinite. The theory claims that the population reproduces geometrically and it is capable of doubling over 25 years (Malthus, 1798).

The Earth’s carrying capacity is a contested concept as its interpretations are linked to the difference in perspectives between the technological optimists and ecologists. Essentially, carrying capacity is “a complex normative concept influenced by ecological dynamics, human values and aims, institutional settings and management practices” (Seidl and Tisdell, 1998). Environmental degradation is based on negative impacts on the environment such as biodiversity losses, stratospheric ozone depletion and the significant increase in carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere. In a broader context humanity’s goal to preserve the environment by reducing environmental degradation as much as possible is connected to the concept of sustainability. According to the United Nations’ World Commission on Environment and the Economy, “sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (Rees, 2017).

Critically discussing the general relationships between population and its effects on the environment is a top priority when analysing how sustainable development is impacted. Moreover, there are contrasting views elaborated in academic papers on this topic that lead to the creation of a debate between ecologists and cornucopians. As a matter of fact, population and development affect one another: the size and growth of the population directly impact development, while the quality of healthcare directly affects fertility. When making reference to the Earth’s carrying capacity and Malthus’ theory, ecologists still consider the carrying capacity to be a vital concern because the rise of the population and economic growth are directly proportional. As a consequence, there is a depletion of natural capital, an increase in pollution and a steady decline in biodiversity (Rees, 2017). Therefore, the magnitude of environmental degradation increases. Inevitably, these trends undermine global life support as the population on Earth already exceeds global carrying capacity, evidence being based on detailed analysis of global trends, physical laws and complex systems models (Rees, 2017).
On the contrary, cornucopians, who are seen as technological optimists, consider technology to have the solution for any globally relevant issue, including population growth. For instance, Lawrence Summers (1991), a Chief Economist, stated that there are no limits to the Earth carrying capacity and no risk of apocalypse due to global warming, while concluding that essentially there should be no limits on growth. In this context, the contrasting interests, views and perspectives of ecologists and cornucopians, lead to the existence of different interpretations of the Earth’s carrying capacity and on how the environment should be preserved.

However, there is a possibility that the needs of future generations will be sacrificed because of  the direct relationship between population growth and environmental degradation. More specific, there is a growing tension between moderate to conservative demographic projections that are based on the fact that the world population size will reach 9 billion or more by mid to late 21st century and the idea that Earth’s long term sustainable carrying capacity may not be in fact much greater than 2-3 million (Smail, 2002). Additionally, the idea of scarcity needs to be taken into account: there should be finite limits to global human numbers, as there are finite resources. Furthermore, a variety of systematic problems that already negatively impact human beings such as pollution and irretrievable loss of biodiversity are caused by population growth (Smail, 2002). According to several scientists: “the era of inexpensive energy, adequate food supplies, easily extractable raw materials, plentiful fresh water readily accessible ‘open space’ is coming close” (Smail, 2002). Consequently, the stabilisation of the population and the commitment to achieve sustainable development will be inevitable, particularly when in economic analysis the Earth’s finite resources  and limitations will be considered.

In a broader perspective, the debate on population growth is based on the Malthusian perspective and the Boserupian one, which refers to a cornucopian approach, highlighting how technology and technological advances are the solution to any environmental changes. In history there was a gradual shift from the Malthusian regime to a Boserupian one (Kristinsson and Júlíusson, 2016). Most important, the effect of the environment on the population is seen as being balanced because of the ability that human beings have to adapt to these changes. Hence, the concept of hyper-adaptability refers to humans being able to adapt to their own growing population through their cultural evolution by actively managing the environment for food production and shifting down the food chain (Kristinsson and Júlíusson, 2016). For this reason, population growth is not considered to be an obstacle by cornucopians (Kristinsson and Júlíusson, 2016). This argument focuses on the population playing an active role, in contrast to Malthusian demographics, where population is a passive element, as it is heavily influenced by the environment and technological advances (Kristinsson and Júlíusson, 2016). In addition, the Boserupian approach is centred around the idea that industrial modernisation can lead to less starvation, as large complex societies have more culture, and therefore can adapt easier to population growth. In other words, “reliance on culture has allowed us to react differently to population pressure than other species” and therefore population growth can contribute to sustainable development as long as human beings take advantage of hyper-adaptability and make changes in their lifestyles to benefit the environment (Kristinsson and Júlíusson, 2016).

Nevertheless, there are environmental changes that are extreme and call attention to the fact that  there are limits in the way in which human beings can adapt. The negative impacts of population increase on the environment are therefore based on stratospheric ozone depletion, atmospheric carbon-dioxide increasing buy 30% in the industrial era, the mean global temperatures reaching high records, more frequent and violent extreme weather events and more than a half of planet’s accessible fresh water already being used by people (Rees, 2017). These examples are just a few negative effects of population growth on our planet and are a clear proof of a positive relationship between population growth and environmental degradation. Furthermore, as there is population pressure on natural renewable resources, there are higher chances that societies will be more prone to civil war (Urdal, 2005). UNEP defines sustainable development as “improving the quality of human life while living within the carrying capacity of supporting ecosystems” (Rees, 2017). Consequently, population growth can be seen as a major obstacle to sustainable development, considering how environmental scarcity can lead to armed conflicts (Urdal, 2005).

Even so, when looking at the perspective of the cornucopians in this debate, there is an increase in the standards of living of the population. This is due to the rapid expansion of the economies which is exceeding the growth of the population (The Economist, 2008). As a result, the demographic transformation of the economy will spur economic development, bringing greater prosperity (The Economist, 2008). Furthermore, in connection to the hyper-adaptability of humans, economies can adapt as well. As an example, if oil wells were to run dry, other energy sources could be exploited (The Economist, 2008). In this context, the greenhouse gas emissions can also be reduced significantly by imposing a carbon tax, or even switching to a low-carbon economy. To sum up, according to conucopians, population and the economy can adapt protecting the environment and therefore population can contribute to sustainable development.

Conclusively, this is an ongoing debate highly relevant nowadays because it is based on the way we live and the choices that we make. I believe that the infinite needs of the human beings put pressure on the environment unrestrictedly and even if technological innovation is taken into account, the needs of future generations will be sacrificed if sustainable development is not prioritised. That is due to the immense losses in biodiversity which can’t be rectified. There are significant efforts done in preserving the environment, however, they are not sufficient. Population growth remains the main obstacle in achieving sustainable development around the world.

References: 1991. Lawrence Summers’ Principle. [online] Available at: <’-principle/>
Malthus, Thomas Robert., and Edward Anthony. Wrigley. An Essay on the Principle of Population: the First Edition (1798) with Introduction and Bibliography. Pickering, 1986.
Rees, W. (2017).Carrying Capacity and Sustainability: Waking Malthus’ Ghost. Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems. [online] Available at: [Accessed 22 Dec. 2017].
Seidl, I. and Tisdell, C. (1998). Carrying capacity reconsidered. Brisbane: Univ. of Queensland, Dep. of Economics.
Smail, J.K. 2002, "Confronting a Surfeit of People: Reducing Global Human Numbers to Sustainable Levels An Essay on Population Two Centuries after Malthus", Environment, Development and Sustainability, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 21.
The Economist. (2008). Malthus, the false prophet. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 Jan. 2018].
Urdal, H. (2005). People vs. Malthus: Population Pressure, Environmental Degradation, and Armed Conflict Revisited. Journal of Peace Research, 42(4), pp.417-434.

By Diana Maria Crivtonencu

Green Infrastructure and Sustainable Development

In the world of today, where innovations and development have become a common gesture, on the other hand it has also induced many social, environmental and subsistence challenges to the living communities. Prehistorically, when human habitation was limited and confined, the different elements designated in maintaining the livability of this planet were functioning in their optimum status. But as curiosity and process of discovery accelerated, it also enhanced the demand to add the term “Sustainability” in mandatory terms. In the previous century, the urbanized areas of the world, also known as cities, captured 14% from the total world’s area. However in this century, the human population accelerated greatly from 10 to 20 million and is still exponentially increasing in short time intervals (Boone, 2013). It is said that by 2050, this world would have 70% areas as cities (Fontana, Sattler, Bontadina & Moretti, 2011).

The concept of Green Infrastructure (GI) arose as a part of recognition of mass movement and concentration of human population and their impactful activities upon urbanized and non-urbanized regions of the world. Basically in common terms it means to increase ecological areas to combat hazards and risks associated with environmental issues (Ranjha, 2016). It is spatial designing and establishment of such structures which associates all environmental features in an area. This may include, open spaces, landscapes, green spaces, greenbelts, conservation corridors, Eco-belts in urban areas, whereas wetlands, waterways, wildlife habitats, woodlands and forests as natural areas. (Lovell & Taylor, 2013). The main reason for introduction of GI is to provide an effective solution and mitigation measure to areas which are on hot list of environmental damages without causing economic or any social loss (Naumann, 2011). For planners and policy makers, GI has become a significant conception in promotion of sustainable land usage, whereas the principle of multifunctionality is one of its vital notions (Kettunen, 2014). Implementation of GI not only helps in management of environmental contaminations from non-point sources, but it also helps in controlling alterations in rainfall discharges which result due to increase in anthropogenic activities (Newell, 2013).

Due to varying trends of climate upon the world and diminution in natural resistance, cities have become more resilient in not only contending short-term issues, like droughts and floods, but also chronic issues in long run such as global warming, intrusive species climate change etc.(Williamson, 2003). At the end of the previous century, different organizations conducted summits and conferences on international forums in order to formulate policies and framework for developmental project keeping the conservation of environment in mind (Declaration, 1992). As a result of Rio declaration in 1992, leaders from 150 nations of the world attended the Millennium summit to agree on a Millennium declaration. Extracted from this declaration, Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were set up to be met within 15 years. These goals were primarily established to tackle against social and global issues like environmental degradation, poverty, diseases, hunger, illiteracy, and discriminations against woman (Assembly, 2001). Reaching the post of 2015, United Nations referred to the nations of the world to evaluate the accomplishments of MDGs. Realizing the need to work continually till eradication, the leaders from the world assembled again on 25th September 2015 to take on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (Lee, 2016).

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) serves the purpose of realizing the needs of human rights along with the rights of the environment around the world. Out of these goals, one is designated to promote sustainable structures of urbanized communities, which is required to enhance quality of life on land for every living being. The context of GI support the growth of urban systems based on the principles drawn out from the goals (Norton, 2014): 1) preferment of enduring health for the area, 2) formation of optimistic communities that are not only ecological today, but also in future, 3) contemplation of sustainability at every phase to not compromise prospects of up-coming generations, 4) agility of strategies to accelerate in reaching the set goals (Diaz, 2016).

Pakistan is known as one of the developing countries of the world, which is present at a very strategic geographical location, much beneficial economically but prone to many environmental hazards due to lack of planning and consideration to the environmental issues. Due to many disastrous episodes, policy makers of the country have now moved on with the mission of accomplishment of sustainable approach in various sectors. The country aims to shape its development with “Green Growth”. This terminology is defined as replacement of devastating economic policies with green strategies to induce sustainability in developmental patterns of the country (Manzoor & Ramay, 2013). To achieve an ecological sustained development, the country is of the strategy to support their systems with green technology to provide economic and social benefits without compromising the environmental quality. This strategy will pursue the objective of maximizing the Gross Domestic Product without provoking or causing any environmental affliction (Manzoor, Change & Samad, 2011).

The United Nations Economic Social Commission for Asia and Pacific (UNESCAP) has projected green growth into five approaches as: integration of green tax and rectification of budget upon green measures, economy-efficiency indicators, green businesses and green markets, sustainable productions and consumption and most importantly establishment of green infrastructures as a vital step towards sustainable green growth and development. Narrated below are some of the functions and benefits of GI that exists in different forms and can prove to be helpful in promoting sustainability in this country (Demiroglu, Yucekaya, Coban & Gokce, 2014):

Establishment of natural drainages: this allows the city to survive without the risk of flood and provide an aquatic ecosystem to permit safe interaction of human with other living species.
Green courses for wildlife and people: it encourages sustainable roaming and exercises and reduce the risks of habitat fragmentation. This helps in conservation of biodiversity in the area.
Improvement of air and water quality, regional climate and noise control: by enhancing the area’s GI, environmental hazards are moderated swiftly without causing it to spread over large area. This restores ecological quality and health and promote well-being of the residents of that area.  
Fortification and enrichment of Landscapes: conservation and sustenance of region’s landscape provides attraction sites for tourists which provide better opportunities to local businesses and reduces unemployment.
Preservation of local heritage: due to unplanned urbanization, many historical/cultural heritage sites are badly impacted and are facing eradication. Proliferation in GI helps in preservation of identity and distinctiveness of the region’s culture and history which are the main tourist attractions.

Pakistan is an important part of the world and for its citizen it is their only home. As perceived by annual environmental events such as heat wave, floods, water scarcity, droughts, invasive species and diseases, climate change etc. it has become very crucial for this country to adapt and implement sustainable measures on emergency basis to save and replenish resources and the environment for a better tomorrow for our future generations.

Assembly, U. G. (2001). Report of the Secretary General: Road Map Towards the Implementation of the United Nations Millennium Declaration. A/56/326, 6 September 2001, New York: United Nations General Assembly.
Boone, C. G., Redman, C. L., Blanco, H., Haase, D., Koch, J., Lwasa, S., ... & Yokohari, M. (2013). Group 4: Reconceptualizing urban land use. Rethinking Urban Land Use in a Global Era; Seto, KC, Reenberg, A., Eds.
Declaration, R. (1992). Rio declaration on environment and development.
Demiroglu, D., Yucekaya, M., Coban, A., & Gokce, D. (2014). Investigation of Green Infrastructure for Sustainable Cities: the Kilis Case. Journal of Environmental Protection and Ecology, 15(3), 1199-1207.
Diaz-Sarachaga, J. M., Jato-Espino, D., Alsulami, B., & Castro-Fresno, D. (2016). Evaluation of existing sustainable infrastructure rating systems for their application in developing countries. Ecological indicators, 71, 491-502.
Fontana, S., Sattler, T., Bontadina, F., & Moretti, M. (2011). How to manage the urban green to improve bird diversity and community structure. Landscape and Urban Planning, 101(3), 278-285.
Kettunen, M., Apostolopoulou, E., Bormpoudakis, D., Cent, J., Letourneau, A., Koivulehto, M., ... & Borgström, S. (2014). EU green infrastructure: opportunities and the need for addressing scales. Scaling in ecology and biodiversity conservation. Advanced Books. Pensoft, Sofia, Bulgaria. http://dx. doi. org/10.3897/ab. e1169.
Lee, B. X., Kjaerulf, F., Turner, S., Cohen, L., Donnelly, P. D., Muggah, R., ... & Waller, I. (2016). Transforming our world: implementing the 2030 agenda through sustainable development goal indicators. Journal of public health policy, 37(1), 13-31.
Lovell, S. T., & Taylor, J. R. (2013). Supplying urban ecosystem services through multifunctional green infrastructure in the United States. Landscape ecology, 28(8), 1447-1463.
Manzoor, R., & Ramay, S. A. (2013). Green Growth and Technological Innovation: A case for South Asian countries. Sustainable Development Policy Institute.
Manzoor, R., Change, C., & Samad, G. (2011). Green Growth: An Environmental Technology Approach. The Pakistan Development Review, 50(4), 471-490.
Naumann, S., Davis, M., Kaphengst, T., Pieterse, M., & Rayment, M. (2011). Design, implementation and cost elements of Green Infrastructure projects. Final report, European Commission, Brussels, 138.
Newell, J. P., Seymour, M., Yee, T., Renteria, J., Longcore, T., Wolch, J. R., & Shishkovsky, A. (2013). Green Alley Programs: Planning for a sustainable urban infrastructure?. Cities, 31, 144-155.
Norton, M. R. Urban Development and Sustainable Infrastructure. ASCE Los Angeles Section. 2014.
Ranjha, S. (2016). Green infrastructure: planning for sustainable and resilient urban environment. Brief for GSDR. DLGS-IOERTU Dresden, Germany https://sustainabledevelopment. un. org/content/documents/95599_Ranjha_Green% 20infrastructure_planning% 20for% 20sustainable% 20and% 20resilient, 20.
Williamson, K. S. (2003). Growing with green infrastructure. Doylestown: Heritage Conservancy.

By Falak Naeem

CoVID-19, Economics and Mental Health

The world says CoVID-19 has impacted the global markets at an alarmingly high level. The stock markets have begun to witness another nadir since the Great Depression. The global economy amidst the novel Coronavirus have been compared with the economic breakdowns that the global markets have seen in the past [1] . However, an alarm even trebling than this is the decline in the mental health of people all around the globe. One thing that everyone must realize is that the consequences of the onset of mental illnesses in every individual, after experiencing lockdowns, will emerge as a chain-phenomenon. People who were not previously suffering from mental illnesses have started developing them after being locked in their homes during the 2020 pandemic. Anxiety and fear now stays on the display among the children, adolescents [2], and even the elderly faction of our society. The global lockdown that featured the closure of educational institutes and other public places, restrictions on social meet-ups, and staying confined to one’s homes in isolation has triggered a wave of psychosocial disturbance, which has probably come to stay for a while in the post-pandemic world.

The children of this generation are the future makers and world shapers of tomorrow. Mental stability and psychosocial steadiness is crucial for them to refine their skills and make the world a better place to live. For this, they need a structured life that helps them shape their thoughts and aspirations. CoVID-19 lockdown has deeply affected their lifestyles by closing down of schools and colleges. School routines provide a chance for those who struggle from mental challenges to distract their minds and thoughts, and spend their energies in producing worthy outcomes. Disruptions in this routine have induced further feelings of anxiety and fears. Domestic tensions then add fire to the fuel and boost up the stress levels when one is already prohibited to leave the house. These mental challenges in the population pile up and pose the burden on the local economies at later stages. For instance, appropriate medications required to treat these illnesses usually strike way above the level most people can afford, especially in developing countries like Pakistan. Already saddled with the load of financial constraints, they often skip or discontinue the treatment that in return poses long-term challenges. If they decide to continue, they need to compromise on other vital needs. Healthcare for mental illnesses is immensely expensive, especially in Pakistan where 45% of the population falls below the poverty line [3]. According to a study conducted in 2016, the total burden that was faced by the Pakistani economy in 2006 due to mental illnesses was PKR 250,483 million, which equals 4264.27 US Dollars (Ibid). This suggests that psychosocial challenges are not only the concerns of health institutions, but also a major influencer as well as influence of economic consequences in a specific country, and also throughout the world.

Decline in mental health will not only affect the global economies globally, but will also require the governments to prioritize health sector to invest in before all the previously designed agendas. The rates of suicide attempts will strike the skies, and global associations will leave the ongoing projects at standby to tackle the situations. Today, many individuals take mental health for granted; whereas, in the bigger picture, it is this very issue that will be taking the hot seat in every breaking news. In my opinion, mental health will be the top-most trending topic of strategizing policies, as well as the experiences that man will undergo in the post-CoVID-19 world. As some deep words of wisdom are hereby quoted, there is no health without mental health.

Image Source: Frontiers (

[1] D. C. Wheelock, "Comparing the COVID-19 Recession with the Great Depression," Economic Synopses, vol. 39, 2020.
[2] S. Singh, D. Royb, K. Sinha, S. Parveen, G. Sharma and G. Joshi, "Impact of COVID-19 and lockdown on mental health of children and adolescents: A narrative review with recommendations," Psychiatry Research, vol. 293, 2020.
[3] M. A. Malik and M. M. Khan, "Economic Burden of Mental Illnesses in Pakistan," The Journal of Mental Health Policy and Economics, vol. 19, pp. 155-166, 2016.

By Fatima Hasnain

The Future and the UN

These are highly perilous and uncertain times. The deadly pandemic wreaked unimaginable havoc in almost every country and entire world community reeled and is still reeling from the disastrous effects of COVID-19.Overstretched public health systems, economies at halt and burgeoning unemployment; the grave consequences of the contagion have been felt almost everywhere and are yet to be felt, definitely.

At this crucial juncture of time, the role of the United Nations (UN) is the vital and important more than it has ever been and the world body needs a global and unified response to both curtail the spread of virus and rekindle the hope in the struggling economies. An effective, just and cognizant-of-matters UN is the imperative of the time and with the UN commemorating its 75 years this year, it is high time that we pledge to make UN an active global body in its letter and spirit.

Being the premier world body that addresses global problems ranging from human rights to controlling diseases or implementing technology, the future UN will have burdened responsibilities owing to the context of the “new normal” that has unfolded post-COVID-19. Climate change, new technologies, health pandemics, and inequality are the few most important areas to work on that seek the augmented attention of the United Nations and have posed serious peril for the world.

Precisely describing what we need from the future UN, the first and foremost zone is the fragile public health system that has been badly exposed by this pandemic; indeed, this is a caveat for us to improve and enhance our health facilities. Though, the UN has its statutory body, responsible and dedicated to world health systems, during these times the role of WHO hasn’t been that- fitting to garner the appreciation of the entire world fraternity. With world’s superpowers alleging WHO of favoring particular states and bickering that continued, the ultimate victims were the developing and disadvantaged countries, of all this saga. This is the most crucial aspect that future UN should essentially look at and make sure that this primary organization of UN is not surrounded by controversies.

The second most elusive part for future UN to look after is its peacekeeping efforts. To breathe in peace and tranquility is the fundamental right of every citizen and it lies upon the states and world bodies to uphold it but ironically this seems far from real as several realms quashed the request of ceasefire by honorable Secretary General and continued their war-missions even in these extraordinary times too. This was witnessed in Afghanistan, Syria and few other countries and subsequently people in these zones had to grapple with dual challenges and their efforts for containing the contagion were hampered badly. This warrants the attention of the UN that it lobbies for peacekeeping and ensures this does not occur again.

Two other critical and pressing issues are shamble economies of the world and inequality in the use of new technologies. It has been observed with great despair during these times that several debt-trapped countries of the world had to face the serious difficulties in diverting their resources towards the virus curtailment, social security net and boosting business activities owing to their whopping debt servicing commitments - Pakistan, had also to face the same challenge- to waive away their requirements, they had to plead before world alliances and countries. The United Nations, in future, should work on devising a comprehensive and holistic plan for mitigating this adversity and should enhance the capacity of the World Bank (which is a wholesome world financial institution and has definitely lent a helping hand in this difficult period).Extending this topic further, we come across another critical aspect and that is equal provision of technology tools to world countries as it is estimated that owing to ramifications of this new normal, business activities are likely to transition towards digital and technological tools and countries that lack in the advances technologies are to bear the most brunt of this work transition. The future UN should really strive to make the lagging segments capable of the use of technology and ensure that frequent use of technology does not bring inequality with it.

In the last, let me be very honest to opine this, that we need the future UN to work on so many other domains as well, which have plagued the world, such as climate change, gender equality, safeguarding of human right sand racial discrimination. Lastly, we all should acknowledge this datum that this world can only thrive when the entire world shows its unity and strengthens the hands of its primary global body, the United Nations.

Written by: Anand Kumar

Our latest news and events.

At sint tollit veritus duo, ex tota inimicus dissentiunt usu. Dico tamquam perfecto usu id. Eu nec option perfecto vituperatoribus. Ea qui congue patrioque, quo ei recteque consequuntur.