The Hindrance of Development in Pakistan: How Pakistan is Holding Itself Back


This paper seeks to explain the predominant reasons behind Pakistan’s lack of development. While there is not one, simple definition of what a developing country is, there are a number of attributes a country may have that can explain why it has not become a developed country. Countries that engage in democratic processes typically fall under the classification of very highly, or highly developed. It is interesting, therefore, to see that democratic practices have not been able to bring Pakistan out of its state of low human development. Pakistan’s society is comprised of a number of factors that can be linked to its lack of developmental success. The five of the most predominant of these factors are: Pakistan’s historical political factors, civil-military relations, the role of Islam, the role of women, and regionalism. This paper explores these five factors and suggests steps that Pakistan should begin to take to remedy these issues.

A full, liberal democracy is a system that has fair, competitive elections along with conditions such as: nearly universal suffrage, a loyal opposition, and respected civil liberties. Democratic practices give countries an advantage towards economic growth and prosperity. In a study that analyzed economic growth from each year between 1960 and 2001, Halperin, Siegle, and Weinstein concluded that “citizens of democracies live longer, healthier lives on average, than those in autocracies. (Handleman, 2011 p 49)” Being a liberal democracy, it is generally believed, will naturally put a country in a better position to become developed. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) uses the Human Development Index to measure levels of development around the world. This index is a “way of measuring development by combining indicators of life expectancy, educational attainment and income into a composite human development index. (UNDP, 2011)” In 2011, Pakistan was ranked at number 145 on this list, as a country with low human development and an HDI of 0.504. Due to its inability to fulfill all of the requirements of a liberal democracy, Pakistan is not considered a full democracy, and therefore has not been able to reap all of the benefits that other democracies have.

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Published in Political Reflection Magazine Vol. 4 No. 1

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