Pakistan’s economy, which has had periods of growth and volatility, is facing several challenges. In the context of significant budget deficits, rising public debt, and a precarious balance of payments, the economy is going through a crisis. The pandemic’s aftermath, internal budgetary mismanagement, and regional geopolitical crises have led to the exposure of fundamental faults within the nation’s financial institutions and the stifling of economic progress. Furthermore, issues like food security and energy inefficiency have made the financial burden worse, necessitating prompt and comprehensive government action.

Pakistan is now in a position where moving forward would require a diversified strategy. Priority should be given to budgetary prudence, export-oriented growth, energy, and food security, and leveraging demographic dividends through human capital development.

With a concerted effort to reform institutional structures, establish an environment that is favourable to investment, and adopt equitable and sustainable policies, Pakistan may be able to navigate its way out of the economic crisis and into a more prosperous and stable future.

Understanding Pakistan’s Economic Crunch

Pakistan’s economic history has always been marked by times of intense turmoil mixed with periods of robust prosperity. The nation has achieved several noteworthy historical firsts, such as being one of Asia’s fastest-growing economies in the 1960s (Husain, 2018). However, these golden times have often been overshadowed by economic downturns caused by unpredictable political leadership, inconsistent policies, and external shocks. The country’s economy is vulnerable to both externalities and internal inefficiencies since industrialization has not kept up with the rising reliance on agriculture and the rapidly expanding services sector.

Pakistan's Budget Deficit

Figure 1 Pakistan’s Budget Deficit

Pakistan's Budget Deficit as a %age of GDP

Figure 2 Pakistan’s Budget Deficit as a %age of GDP

Recent economic statistics paint a striking picture of the crunch. Significantly reduced foreign exchange reserves, double-digit inflation rates, and the significant depreciation of the Pakistani Rupee have all hindered the nation’s capacity to purchase commodities and settle its debt (Munir et al., 2021). The decrease in GDP growth reflects the underlying difficulties in global economic activity. These symptoms not only point to immediate discomfort but also point to more significant, systemic economic issues.

The status of the economy is the result of several factors working together. A growing fiscal imbalance has resulted from the government’s huge spending, especially on infrastructure projects, which have prevented tax revenue growth (Rasul et al., 2021). Evasion, a narrow tax base, and inefficient tax collection have all contributed to this. A demand structure that is mostly reliant on imports has led to trade deficits that have not been sufficiently counterbalanced, despite the potential of exports. Export products’ relatively low-value addition makes them less competitive in outside markets, which widens the country’s trade imbalance.

Economic Challenges

Through the 7th NFC Award, Pakistan’s federal government and its provinces exchanged financial resources to enhance local governance; nonetheless, this led to a decline in federal revenue, 57% of the total federal pool goes to the provinces (Khan, 2023). The central government is under pressure to manage finances as it struggles to finance national projects and pay debt due to non-proportional improvements in tax collection. The Pakistani Rupee has seen substantial depreciation and substantial inflation due to the central bank’s short-term “Printing Money” strategy to cover shortages (Yolanda, 2017).

Pakistan's Prinitng Money Strategy

Figure 3 Pakistan’s Prinitng Money Strategy

This monetary growth has reduced buying power in the absence of economic progress and exacerbated the trade deficit due to higher import costs. Pakistan’s budget imbalance has grown because of government overspending and insufficient revenue collection, particularly in the defence and infrastructure sectors. This has made borrowing from both local and international sources necessary. The current account deficit reflects a trade imbalance that is exacerbated by high import costs in comparison to weak export growth, declining foreign currency reserves, and increasing external dependency (Obstfeld, 2012).

The increasing public debt brought on by these deficits poses a severe threat to economic autonomy as it limits funding for development and takes up a significant portion of the budget. The service of this growing debt limits the fiscal capacity for public expenditures and services that may promote economic progress. The intricate financial scenario highlights the unanticipated consequences of the money production technique and the NFC Award. A resolution requests a balanced approach that combines budgetary consolidation, equitable resource distribution, and economic stimulation to handle the debt crisis and restore fiscal stability.

Implications of Immediate Challenges

One can easily see how Pakistan’s export sector, which was once a source of hope for the country’s economy, is now lagging its peers by drawing a comparison with Vietnam. Pakistan’s participation in international trade has decreased while Vietnam’s has increased dramatically (Nguyen, 2020). Vietnam has expanded its economy to include textiles, electronics, and agriculture—all of which have substantial global demand. Pakistan’s export growth has been slow, with little value addition and fierce competition for traditional sectors like textiles and agriculture (Syed et al., 2012). Vietnam’s export growth, on the other hand, has accelerated dramatically. Industries with the potential to boost exports, such as information technology, medicines, and value-added textiles, must be identified and supported. By improving product quality, market accessibility, and conformity to international criteria, Pakistan might potentially maximise its export potential.

The power crisis is seriously affecting Pakistan’s industry and agriculture, the two primary foundations of the country’s economy (Rauf et al., 2015). This presents a danger to energy security and efficiency. Load shedding and energy shortages have not only hindered manufacturing but also deterred international investment. Due to gearbox losses and the energy industry’s reliance on expensive foreign fuels, urgent adjustments are required to provide a consistent and competitively priced supply of energy.

Inflation is directly impacted by the inefficiencies of agriculture and food security, which also makes rural poverty worse (Erokhin and Gao, 2020). Pakistan still uses outdated agricultural practices, which result in low yields and significant post-harvest losses. Investment in cutting-edge technology, better water management, and a change in agricultural policy are all required to guarantee food security by boosting resilience against risks associated with climate change and raising productivity. The growing population of Pakistan is placing enormous demands on the country’s already limited resources, necessitating sustainable planning. A rapidly growing population need large investments in infrastructure, healthcare, and education to improve living standards and increase economic productivity.

Strategic Frameworks for Moving Forward

Pakistan must carry out economic reforms to break free from the present fiscal deadlock. This shift requires implementing significant adjustments to public spending and taxation. Enhancing the tax collection process, eliminating tax evasion, and broadening the tax base can all lead to a considerable rise in the government’s revenue (Besley and Persson, 2014). Among the most important expenditure-side strategies are rationalising spending and giving priority to investments that yield long-term financial gains.

The NFC Award must be changed to provide a more equitable fiscal scenario. A new formula that ensures an equitable distribution while maintaining the health of the government budget is needed. The provinces and the central would need to work together on this, emphasising accountability and shared responsibilities for revenue generation. Trade policy needs to be fundamentally reorganised to reverse the downward export trend. One may improve foreign exchange earnings and get access to new markets by broadening the export base to include services and technology in addition to traditional goods. Initiatives like market research subsidies, tax breaks for exporters, and support in meeting international standards may all boost export competitiveness.

The foundation of any forward-thinking economic strategy is human capital investment (Kryscynski and Ulrich, 2015). To optimise skill development, school reforms should place a larger priority on higher education quality, digital literacy, technical skills, and curriculum conformity with market demands. Equally important are improvements in health to ensure a productive workforce. Enhancements to primary health services accessibility, preventative care, and the healthcare system will lead to a healthier and more productive workforce.


Pakistan’s economy is at a turning point that calls for decisive action and tactical adjustment. The article has examined Pakistan’s economic trajectory historically as well as the most recent indicators of the crisis. The research looked at how the 7th NFC Award affected fiscal dynamics, how the “Printing Money” strategy led to inflation, and how the twin deficits—the fiscal and current account—created a vicious cycle that has led to a worsening debt trap.

As this speech explains, significant changes in trade policy, a review of the NFC Award, and comprehensive economic reforms are necessary for the future. It highlights how important it is to broaden the export base and implement exporter incentive schemes. At the core of this progress are investments in health and education reform, both of which are essential for creating a workforce that is both competent and healthy. In conclusion, there is a strategy that blends creativity, inclusivity, and austerity that can help Pakistan get out of its current economic rut. A bright outlook is predicated not just on wishful thinking but also on the likelihood of policy improvements and the resiliency of Pakistan’s institutions and people.



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