Pi News –
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in its latest World Report 2024 that Pakistan faced its worst economic crisis last year, driven by factors including poverty and rising cost of living.
“With rising poverty, inflation and unemployment, Pakistan is facing one of the worst economic crises in its history, endangering the rights of millions of people to health, food and a decent standard of living,” it said on Friday. in a published report.
It said the devaluation of the national currency in 2023, a sharp rise in inflation and the removal of electricity and fuel subsidies without adequate compensatory measures “made it difficult for many people in Pakistan to realize their economic and social rights”.
For the year, Pakistan’s central bank’s foreign exchange reserves fell to $3 billion in January, an amount that covered less than three weeks of imports.
In July, Pakistan reached a $3 billion deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), committing the government to remove energy and fuel subsidies, move to a market-based exchange rate and raise taxes.
“This has led to widespread protests against rising electricity bills, inflation and food shortages,” the report said.
HRW argued that the IMF’s insistence on austerity and the removal of subsidies without adequate compensatory measures has led to additional hardship for disadvantaged groups.
In addition, HRW noted that Pakistan remains extremely vulnerable to climate change and that the rate of warming is well above the global average, making extreme climate events more frequent and severe.
It says the economic crisis is set against the backdrop of the devastating economic costs of the 2022 floods.
“As of 2018, 37 percent of Pakistan’s 230 million people faced food insecurity, but only 8.9 million families received assistance to mitigate the effects of soaring inflation.
During the year, Pakistan and China deepened their extensive economic and political ties by 2023, and continued work on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a project consisting of the construction of highways, railways and energy pipelines, the report said.