The overall monetary value of advantages offered to Pakistani elites (business sector, feudal, prominent politicians, and the military) amounts to roughly 6% of the country’s economy.
Whether or not one believes in a Western plot to destabilize the PTI government, the previous administration’s poor performance and incapacity to address deep-seated imbalances in the country did not assist its cause. It seems unlikely that the current administration, or any future elected government that continues to rely on ‘electables’ to gain power, would be able to end Pakistan’s enduring elite capture curse.
Of course, inequality is not unique to Pakistan. Rich and poor nations alike are affected by the enormous divide between the haves and the have-nots. Even though a country appears to be doing well in terms of economic growth, vast discrepancies between affluent and poor individuals might exist, typically correlated with other characteristics such as race, ethnicity, and religion.
Despite all the high-level talk about the “invisible hand of the market” creating a “level playing field,” nations continue to have a role in putting regulations in place that allow privileged groups to capture economic privileges. Consider the vast sums of money spent by lobbyists hired by international firms to sway decision-makers in strong countries such as the United States.
Despite the country’s massive impoverishment, Pakistan’s economic policies protect elite interests. As a result of their substantial representation in parliament, the so-called Pakistani elites have been labeled “electables,” who partner with various ruling parties to defend and perpetuate their entrenched interests.
According to the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) National Human Development Report (NHDR) for Pakistan, the richest 20% of Pakistanis own about 50% of the country’s revenue. The poorest 20% of the population, on the other hand, own just 7% of the country’s national revenue. Despite these stark disparities, the NHDR projected that over 37% of government spending goes to the country’s wealthiest citizens, while less than 15% of government spending goes to the poorest citizens. Furthermore, the business sector in Pakistan is the main recipient of various tax exemptions, subsidies, and preferential access to capital and other state services. The country’s 1% affluent elite, who jointly control 9% of the country’s overall revenue, are the second and third largest recipients of governmental handouts. While their power has waned over time, feudal households still possess roughly 22% of all arable farmland, albeit accounting for less than 1% of the population. The bulk of poor rural households, on the other hand, do not own land and must rely on sharecroppers, seasonal or daily employed agri-laborers to make ends meet.
Pakistan is unquestionably in a dangerous neighborhood, and its security demands necessitate a sizable defense expenditure. Apart from allocating a major share of the country’s revenue to military spending, the government also provides preferential access to land, capital, infrastructure, and tax breaks for the military’s many economic interests.
According to UNDP estimations, the overall monetary value of advantages offered to Pakistani elites (business sector, feudal, prominent politicians, and the military) amounts to roughly 6% of the country’s economy. When Pakistan’s human development indicators are the worst in South Asia (barring Afghanistan), and Pakistan was ranked 153rd out of 156 countries on the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index last year, it’s difficult to justify spending so much of the country’s limited public sector funding on the country’s elites.
Pakistan is a heavily indebted country with a poor growth rate, which explains why financial planners must continue to tighten the fiscal belt for the country
to qualify for more foreign loans. However, many other nations in our area and beyond have encountered comparable economic issues but have done a much better job of meeting their citizens’ fundamental requirements.