NEW DELHI: Pakistan will use the same model that China has implemented to fight poverty and improve the standard of living, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has said, amid a possible cash crunch in the country. Mr Khan, who visited China earlier this month, is looking to steer the country out of a possible debt crisis and has approached the International Monetary Fund for a bailout.
“My government would soon introduce a poverty alleviation package for the first time in the country’s history to pull the poor people out of the poverty,” said Mr Khan after inaugurating a shelter home in Lahore, news agency IANS reported.
He said China has lifted over 700 million people out of poverty during last three decades, which is an unprecedented achievement, and “Pakistan will learn from it.”
China has reportedly agreed to give $6 billion in aid to cash-strapped Pakistan to minimise its dependence on the IMF bailout, after Mr Khan met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing earlier this month.
Mr Khan’s plans to launch anti-poverty programmes come at a time when the country is facing possible cash crunch, though it has several options now. A Saudi Arabian offer of a $6 billion rescue package is in the pipeline. Mr Khan has said Pakistan is in talks with two other “friendly nations” for more loans.
Mr Khan secured the Saudi package at a high-profile investment conference in Riyadh that has been boycotted by several other leaders over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the country’s consulate in Istanbul.
According to Pakistan’s Economic Survey 2018, over 24 per cent of the country’s total population of over 207 million is living below the poverty line. Poverty, hunger and unemployment afflict a big section of the Pakistani population, the report said.
Pakistan’s debt problem is also reportedly linked to the so-called China-Pakistan Economic Corridor or CPEC, as it is concerned over heavy Chinese loans under the CPEC project which, it fears, could push the country into a debt trap.
The $50 billion corridor that connects Kashgar in western China with Gwadar port in Pakistan, spanning 3,000 kilometres, is also one of the pain points in ties between India and China. India has right from the start protested against China’s CPEC push as the corridor passes through Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir or PoK.
In October, Pakistan’s Railway Minister Sheikh Rashid announced a cut in the cost of a railway project under the CPEC from $8.2 billion to $6.2 billion, saying Pakistan cannot afford huge loans.