Is Pakistan A Third World Country?

Pakistan is a populous country in Asia with a dynamic culture. Pakistan has also seen a lot of conflict within its borders. With the country’s ability to develop over time, is Pakistan a third-world country?

Based on current statistics regarding economics, poverty, quality of life, and development, Pakistan could still be considered a third-world country in some respects. Pakistan has seen some overall improvement in regards to their economy. As a result, it would be more appropriate to classify Pakistan as a developing country, with some aspects of life being underdeveloped. 

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It has been hard for Pakistan’s government to get an ethical grasp on solidifying a solid financial and socio-economic future for the country, especially as its population continues to grow. 

Is Pakistan A Third World Country?

When looking at some of the most recent economic projections, Pakistan is pulling itself out of its former, informal third world status. Comparing Pakistan’s development and growth to other South Asian countries, Pakistan has made sweeping progress. A lot of the conflict that has plagued Pakistan has overshadowed the amount of development the country has been able to accomplish. 

Pakistan has not seen a steady increase in economic, social, and industrial development. Throughout the last couple of decades, these attributes have gone up and down, though Pakistan is now on a somewhat upward trajectory. There is still crime and poverty in Pakistan, and terroristic threats and political corruption has caused some of this development to pause and restart cyclically. 

Corruption on the political level has put some strain on economic development throughout Pakistan’s history. A lot of the corruption revolved around money, with individuals involved in the criminal behavior stealing money that could have been used to aid citizens. There have been efforts to recover as much of that money as possible. 

Pakistan was able to avoid some of the financial strains caused by the COVID-19 pandemic through initiating lockdowns early to cause as little pause within industries as possible. As such, they were able to keep the economy flowing by keeping the spread of infection relatively low. As people, Pakistan citizens are known as being very resilient and hardworking, with a passion to improve conditions in the country. 

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Is Pakistan An Underdeveloped, Developing, Or Developed Country?

Pakistan would be classified as a predominantly developing country. The country has made significant strides towards progress and development since becoming independent in the 1940s. While the agricultural sector of Pakistan is still vast, Pakistan has been able to bring much more industry into the country than there once was. 

In terms of Pakistan’s agriculture, they are one of the biggest exporters of wheat. Pakistan also produces a variety of other crops, including cotton, rice, mangoes, and a variety of vegetables. Pakistan has also ramped up its textile and clothing industries. Pakistan has also grown its service sector, with many telecommunication and transportation companies, for example, operating out of Pakistan. 

Because of how successful Pakistan’s development has been, many international governments and companies are beginning to create partnerships with Pakistan either through establishing companies in the country or creating trade agreements. 

Pakistan has also made an effort to urbanize, partially out of necessity due to its exploding population. Compared to many other countries in Asia, Pakistan has been able to create more urban spaces with modern development. 

The Economy Of Pakistan 

Pakistan, as a country, has made modern strides towards diversifying its economic health, especially in the arena of exports. In the mid 1900s, when Pakistan was able to become separated from British rule, the country mainly relied on its agricultural sector to bring money into the country. Pakistan is regarded as an ancient country, with the ability to survive regardless of being overtaken. 

Many circumstances would put temporary hampers on Pakistan’s economic progress, such as the Asian financial crisis, drought, terrorism, and the global financial crisis of the early 2000s. Despite many barriers to progress, Pakistan has shown great perseverance in terms of climbing out of these negative moments to continue building a better economy. 

The government of Pakistan has also implemented many reforms that would see new industries being built, more jobs being created, and more economic freedom for entrepreneurs and new businesses. By the same token, the government has made efforts to ensure businesses are able to run more ethically than they have in the past, though there is still work to do on that front. 

There have also been talks to bring new sectors into Pakistan in order to grow certain industries, such as the automobile industry, which would also see international partnerships flourish and more job creation. As it is already known, the United States also has a presence in Pakistan due to its bounty of oil. 

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Pakistan’s Debt 

Pakistan has a lot of debt, and their trade deficits are quite vast. The government has made several efforts to reduce this debt with limited, albeit some, success. Part of the struggle to get debt under control is simply because goods cost more than they once did. Coupled with the Pakistani currency dropping in value, Pakistan has only been able to do so much to reduce its debt. 

That said, introducing new tax reform as well as trying to export more goods has helped to bring some of the debt down. Remittances earned by expatriates have also been appropriated towards reducing some of the government’s debt. The government has also planned to divert some government funds from building up the governmental sector and instead work on improving social development. 

Poverty In Pakistan 

Poverty is still present in Pakistan, but over the last couple of decades, poverty rates have dropped quite dramatically in the country. This is thanks in part to many governmental reforms that would see more opportunity for employment for its citizens. More Pakistani citizens have been able to emerge out of poverty, with estimates that about 40% of citizens make a middle class income. 

On that note, there were also many reforms put in place by the Pakistani government in 2016 to ensure that young people in the country were able to find gainful employment, earn credentials and learn new skills, and establish government assistance for young people wanting to start businesses. These initiatives have been quite successful in helping young people get out of impoverished conditions. 

Remittances are common in Pakistan, and have helped contribute to a growing economy while also helping improve living conditions for families in Pakistan. Pakistani citizens will move out of the country in search of education and employment opportunities elsewhere, while sending back portions of their wages to support their families still living at home. 

With all that said, Pakistan has been able to make some headway towards reducing poverty. At this point, the country has been able to improve towards becoming a lower middle income country. To help reduce the impact of higher prices for essentials such as food, the Pakistani government will be implementing food programs to help families already struggling to afford basic necessities. 

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Pakistan’s Culture And Tourism 

The people of Pakistan also have a deep-rooted, celebrated culture, filled with music, food, celebrations, and strong family ties. Tourism has also increased in Pakistan, with the beautiful and varied landscapes of the country and the friendly people drawing in visitors from all over the world. Outside of native Pakistani culture, the country has embraced multiculturalism, with people from all around the world calling the country home. 

There are many ethnicities that make up Pakistan’s population, and all of them bring their own customs and traditions to the country, along with their own food, dance, and clothing. While some of these cultures celebrate ancient tradition and folklore that traces back centuries, the Islam faith is also prominent in Pakistan. 

Pakistan is also known for its love of music, as music is one of the most popular art forms in the country. Pakistan has also developed their own unique style of art, fashion, and crafting, exporting beautiful handmade creations that are adored all over the world. 

The people of Pakistan are also known for being kind, generous, and always willing to help tourists learn more about their very special culture and customs. There is still some inequality in the country, especially when it comes to gender, but overall, the people of Pakistan are respectful so long as their culture is respected. 

Final Thoughts

Pakistan tends to be painted with an incorrect brush due to media speculation, so is Pakistan really a third world country, or is that misunderstood as well? Pakistan would not be considered a third world country, as it has made a lot of progress in various aspects of political and social life. 

Some may still consider Pakistan third world because there is still poverty and inequality in the country. Only time will tell whether or not the government gets a handle on continuing to grow the economy and lift people out of poverty. Based on recent events, it appears Pakistan has a lot of potential to develop far beyond being considered third world.  


Marta Kovachek
About the author: Marta Kovachek graduated from the university with a master’s degree in Economics. Marta enjoys writing about the current economic situation and loves helping our readers to find their next "destination". From places to live to complex social and economic topics, we always enjoy Marta's work. Please contact us in case of any questions.