Pakistan is pre — dominantly an agricultural country. More than 70% of its population live in these areas. However, despite the percentage of population living in the rural areas and their importance to the national economy, these people remain deprived of even the basic amenities of life.

Development is the proper and fuller utilization of resources available in a country accompanied by improving the quality of all human lives. This entails a multi — dimensional process involving structural, attitudinal and institutional change as well as acceleration of economic growth, reduction of inequality and eradication of poverty.


There were 9.9 million rural households in Pakistan as compared to 3.58 million households in the urban areas according to the housing census report 1981. The nation currently has the per capita income level of $365 per annum. About 30% of the rural households earn less than 50% of this income. In 1982, the rural literacy stood at 17.3% with 73.8% males and 92.7% females totally illiterate. This is another evidence of the extent of deprivation in these areas.

Apart from this evident deprivation of even the most basic physical needs, these peasants are also denied their rights of political and social freedom. This has resulted in the underdevelopment of the social infrastructure in the rural areas, and thus these people are underdeveloped in the true sense of the word.

The 8th five year plan (1993 – 94 to 1997 – 98) envisages generation of 5.72 million jobs. The agricultural sector is expected to grow at the rate of 4.9% a year and would thereby absorb a new 1.9 million people. This is about 33% of the new employment opportunities to be generated in this period.. This is a significant improvement from the previous levels of employment distribution and generation in the last agricultural census and the Economic survey. The previous figures are as follows:

In Million Rural Household Population In Million Urban Household population
Self Employed
Agriculture 5.42 31.46 0.22 1.44
Non-agriculture 3.62 28.95 3.36 22.56
Total: 9.04 60.41 3.58 23.84
Agree Labor households 1.1 18.85 0.54 0.51
Other labor households 1.34 5.10 0.32 7.94
Total: 2.44 23.15 0.86 8.40



A number of factors can be attributed to the current state of under development in the rural population of Pakistan. The most pertinent of these are:

Inadequate Physical and Social Infrastructure

For boosting developmental activities through advancing credit, technical knowledge, information dissemination and development  of infrastructure base provisions was made in all the five year plans. Apart from specialized commercial banks like ADBP, PSBFC, SAPICO, PKICL, PLHC, RDFC, FBC and IDBP  DFI’s like NDFC, BEL, ICP, PICIC were also assigned the responsibility of the uplift of rural society. All these plans were never successfully implemented because of a dearth of managerial skills and lack of political will. This indifference on the part of these institutions has resulted in the failure of all rural development programs like Village aid, Basic Democracies, People Works Programs, the Five point program, Tameer Watan and the Social Action Plan. Infact, under the pretext of rural development, huge embezzlements from the national exchequer took place. Nothing but paper work is the outcome of these ambitious plans.

Short Term Planning in the Agriculture Sector

Instead of eliminating the root causes, the governments have been trying to avoid criticism by putting more emphasis on taking care of symptoms. For instance, the government has been giving subsidies to the farmers instead of taking permanent land augmenting measures for increasing long term productivity. Water logging and salinity have steadily been on the rise making more and more land un productive each passing year. Delay in the completion of Chashma canal network in NWFP is an example of government’s inefficiency in handling this menace. About  one — fifth of the canal cultivated area is affected by waterlogging and even an even higher proportion by salinity. The water table in the cumulative cultivated land is:



0-5ft under million hectares
5-10ft under million hectares
65% of Cumulative Cultivated Land


High Population Growth Rate

The high population growth rate perpetuates the vicious cycle of under development by burdening the insufficient social and physical infrastructure in the rural areas. A recent research conducted by PIEDAR reveals that low income is an important determinant of the ideal family size in rural areas as more sons compensate for the income security lost by the uncertainty of land tenancy.

Factor Ownership Inequality

The economic and social framework of the rural areas is of extra ordinary social inequality. The rural land lord with abundant sources of monopoly power has made traditional ruler economic and social organization resistant to efforts at reform. An inflexible social environment has prevented the process of evolutionary change from getting underway in Pakistan.

Twice, efforts were made to at land reforms but invain. Once in the Ayub Khan’s era and the second time in the Zulfiqar Bhutto’s government.


They failed due to the following reasons:

  • Land lords maintained their privileged positions in this environment by virtue of their monopoly of land: which has always been used for influencing the machinery of state.
  • Political landscape is dominated by the zamindar class that has opposed all kind of land reforms over the years.
  • The scope of land reform programs in Pakistan has been limited. The tenancy act of 1959 was limited to bringing some order to the traditional zamindari system instead of destroying the system. This tenancy act of 1959 does not say anything about changing the contracts of existing tenancy contracts.
  • The sound financial positions of zamindar’s make them better equipped to invest in costly and indivisible capital inputs like tubewells and tractors. Use of high  yielding crop varieties and chemical fertilizers because of their contacts and exposure leads to heavy concentration of such inputs in the hands of large land — owners.


A main reason for very low per hectare yield is the usage of primitive farming methods by small farmers and tenants. Despite various government schemes such as yellow tractor schemes for encouragement of modern equipment usage farmers are left with no option but to use the same primitive methods. A change in the interest of farmers in the adoption of new technology has not been encouraged through institutional support. Then reason being that the adoption of new technology will only be successful if institutional changes occur e.g. Land reforms and farm credit to finance farm improvement programs In a developing country like Pakistan, the confidence and incentive to produce more is impaired by dis — organized marketing structure for high yielding varieties and fertilizers. Thus the farmer does not believe in the effectiveness of such technology.


In the developing countries with abundant man power, rural industrialization plays a very important role. This is true for Pakistan as well where the agriculture sector is still under developed. However, the rural industrialization has failed to achieve its targets. The apparent reasons are as follows:

Lack of credit facilities to the small rural entrepreneurs

Today, besides the nationalized commercial banks with about 2500 branches in the rural areas and 14 specialized commercial banks and other DFI’s have failed to meet the needs of the rural industrial person The reason for this being that most of the loans are given to the influential people.

Lack of Availability of Reliable Information

The rural industrial scene is characterized by the lack of availability of reliable and adequate data. This has resulted into the gap between macro policies and micro implementation.

Lack Of Marketing System

Marketing is another significant feature that has altogether been ignored. Products need markets. An adequate marketing system can thus ensure that effective demand of products and fair prices are maintained. On this depend the diversification and further investment for ruler industrial development.



Agriculture in Pakistan is the most dominant economic activity. It provides the way of life to almost three quarters of the country’s population. Over 55% of the total labor force were engaged in this sector in 1975 and over 32% of the exports were contributedby the agriculture sector. However, as many other developed countries Pakistanis agricultural growth has been unstable.

Agriculture output grew from Rs.7.7bn in 1960 – 61 to Rs.12.5bn in 1969 – 70 at a rate of over 5.5% per annum. However, it increased from 12.2bn in 1970 – 71 to Rs.14.9bn in 1978 – 79 at a growth rate  of 2.6% during this period. These figures show that the agriculture growth rate has been unstable throughout this period. A slow down of the agriculture output has deep and adverse effects on the national economy. Pakistan had to import 2.6mn metric tons of wheat during 1978 – 79 that was over 25% of our domestic production of 10 mn metric tons.

Apart from this decrease in he agricultural output, underdevelopment has had the following impact on the socio — economic environment of Pakistan:



Because of the depressing and seemingly endless rural conditions, a large number of rural people are migrating to large urban centers in hope of a better future. This phenomenon has had a very negative impact on both the rural and the urban sectors of society.

It has been noticed that most of the people who have been migrating are young, educated and more skilled and productive. These migrants are also motivated to pursue better economic and social opportunities. With their movement to urban sectors, the rural areas suffer from the loss of this dynamic and progressive minded segment of their population.


The rapid pace of urbanization due to migration has had some major consequences for the large urban centers who have been the target of such movements. It is common knowledge that in urban areas the pace of population growth often exceeds the growth rate in employment opportunities and other basic amenities of life. These basic necessities of urban life constitute such as housing, health facilities, education, hygienic living conditions

and transportation. Thus, the unbalanced pace of urbanization has been resulting in acute shortage of housing and fast growth of slums, shanty towns and squatter settlements. Since normally the municipal facilities and services trail behind the magnitude of population growth in urban centers. Therefore, it results in the deterioration of the urban environment.



This rapid and hap hazard migration is also the root cause of social and economic ills of unprecedented proportions. People come to big towns looking for good jobs and end up committing burglaries or peddling drugs. They are, for reasons of necessity or personal pride unwilling to return to their native areas and thus fall for such crimes. These problems are then perpetuated in the future generation of these migrants: who are deprived of both the necessities of life and the hope of achieving them.

Women and children often are “passive” migrants as they migrate because the bread owner or the head of the family decides to do so. Deprived of their traditional extended family support net in the rural environment, these women and children are even more vulnerable to the hardships of urban life. Thus, this migration truly erodes the very fundamentals on which our society has been dependent for countless generations.



The basis of economic stagnation  is the concentration of resources. Firstly, effective land re — distribution should be implemented coupled with a progressive taxation structure based on land holdings and productivity. The administration of these  measures has to be fair and objective, as in the past fraudulent practices by land holders in collusion with administration has rendered these steps useless.

The farming conditions have to be improved in order to shift emphasis from production for self — sufficiency to production for income generation. This attitudinal change will be brought about if institutions support such conducive environment so that farmer considers farming not merely as a way of life but also as a kind of business. High yielding crop varieties, more fertilizers, better plant protection methods, irrigation water and labor intensive technology provision for a favorable cost – return relationships have to be ensured by these institutions. This has to be a gradual but dynamic process on a permanent basis.

Apart from this, unemployment and underemployment situation improvement is required. High opportunities for attaining sustainable growth are readily available if awareness among rural masses about exploitation of available and hidden resources is arranged for the small farmers.

Entrepreneurship building exercises need to be fitted into a broad educational and technological system and welfare measures. The government should encourage the establishment of integrated industries on a small scale. Concessionaire loans and accessibility to market information have to be made available.

However, before any of these policy measures are expected to produce results, a sense of responsibility and political will has to be inculcated in the rulers and managers of Pakistan. Only then can their be hope for a better tomorrow.



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