Focus on Pakistan

On 18th 2018 former cricketer Imran Khan took the oath to become Pakistan’s Prime Minister. During his victory speech, he laid out the policy outlines for his future government. What are some of the issues he’ll have to deal with and how can we pray for him and for his country?

Pakistan’s economy is running a record high trade deficit of US$38 billion, with a currency that has lost 15% of its value since January. Thankfully personal remittances to the country are roughly US$20 billion, keeping the country afloat and reflecting the relationship between Pakistanis in the country and those living abroad. In 2015 the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) showed that 39% of Pakistan lived in poverty averaging from 9% in cities to over 55% in rural areas. Khan’s political declarations include liberal economics, with the promise of deregulating the economy and creating a welfare state. Please pray that the whole country, and particularly the poor, benefit from the changes.

The education situation has significantly improved over the last few years and most primary-aged children now attend school. However only around 50% of those leaving primary school are literate and most drop out by the age of 9. Just 4% of those aged 17+ attend Higher Education institutions and teacher training is weak. Please pray that more parents will understand the value of education and the country’s education standard improves, resulting in a fairer and more stable society.

According to the IMF, Pakistan is the third most water-stressed country in the world and recent reports indicate the country will reach absolute water scarcity by 2025. In view of the country’s high dependence on agriculture this water shortage will have a huge impact. Please pray for an effective strategy to deal with the looming crisis.

Numerous people are on death row after being convicted under the blasphemy law, and hundreds await trial. Most are members of religious minorities and victims of the charges due to personal disputes. Khan seems to be supportive of a strongly Islamic Pakistan. He’s spoken in favour of the blasphemy laws, and seems to support the Sharia rule. Earlier this year two Christians died and others were injured leaving a church service in Quetta. Please pray for the Christian community in Pakistan and for structural changes to the constitution to protect all members of religious minorities.

Suneel Shivdasani
Trustee, South Asian Concern