Pakistan’s by far the most important industry branch is the textile industry, which is also the only significant export industry. Industrial production accounts for the majority of the country’s economic growth.
When Pakistan was formed in 1947, the country was almost without industry. From the 1950s, industrialization took place, focusing primarily on textile production, but also on food, household goods, agricultural implements, cement and fertilizers. Later, industrial branches such as vehicle assembly and manufacture of electrical goods were added.
Nowadays, almost a quarter of the labor force works in industry, where together with construction and mining workers they account for just under a fifth of the country’s GDP.
The textile industry employs almost 40 percent of industrial workers and accounts for three-quarters of export earnings. The cement industry has also been targeted at exports, including to the large-scale construction of the Persian Gulf countries.
Barriers to continued industrial development are the lack of electricity, poor communications, high interest rates, political instability, corruption, poorly educated labor and poor quality of Pakistani industrial goods.
- COUNTRYAAH: List of top trading partners of Pakistan. Includes countries that imported most shipments from and exported most goods to the country.
Hundreds of local shutdowns
Health Minister Zafar Mirza states to the media that the central government has identified 500 areas in the country that are particularly affected by covid-19. The strategy to combat the corona pandemic is now being changed to introduce so-called “smart lockdowns”, that is, local shutdowns of these 500 sites instead of quarantining the entire country. Prime Minister Khan has said that a continued national shutdown of Pakistan is impossible given the economy and the country’s poor population who in many cases lose their livelihood. At the time, Pakistan has more than 185,000 confirmed coronary infections and nearly 4,000 deaths in covid-19. The popularity of the PTI government, both in the population and in the military, has decreased during the pandemic.
WHO calls for closure
The World Health Organization WHO calls on Pakistan to shut down society again to protect its inhabitants from a widespread spread of infection. Pakistan imposed restrictions in March and April but abolished several of them during the month of May.
Many returnees have covid-19
Hundreds of foreign-working Pakistanis returning home during the corona pandemic have been tested positive for covid-19. The Pakistani authorities have so far helped some 20,000 citizens to get home from especially the Middle East, where many migrant workers lost their jobs when communities were shut down to curb the spread of infection. Of 2,069 returning Pakistanis in Sindh province, more than 500 tested positive. In the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, more than 200 of the 1,600 passengers who flew home to Peshawar had been infected by the corona virus. Around 4.5 million Pakistanis work in the Middle East. In addition to the 20,000 taken home, 110,000 migrant workers have applied for assistance to return home. At the time, Pakistan has more than 26,000 confirmed cases of coronary infection and a death toll in covid-19 of about 600.
The country is opening up again
Pakistan is gradually opening up the country despite the spread of the corona virus. Prime Minister Khan justifies the decision that the shutdown will hit the country’s economy extremely hard. At the same time, Khan urges the population to continue with social distance as they return to their workplaces. However, schools are kept closed and public communications, including domestic flights, remain stopped. The Prime Minister stresses that the country can be closed again if Pakistanis do not respect the restrictions. At the time, Pakistan has 23,000 confirmed cases of coronas infected residents and 564 dead in covid-19.
Prayer restrictions are lifted
Following a meeting between President Arif Alvi and a number of religious leaders, the ban on gatherings of people at prayer mosques was lifted. Due to the corona pandemic, only three to five people were allowed to pray at the same time in the mosques. The ban is lifted less than a week before the fixed month of Ramadan begins. Large religious gatherings have previously caused virus outbreaks in, among others, India. Visitors to the mosque must wear a face mask and keep a distance of at least two meters. The meeting rooms must be disinfected before the prayers begin. The government has been under severe pressure to allow prayers during the Ramadan. In Karachi, among others, the police have intervened in violent protests against the prayer restrictions.
IMF support for coronary pandemic
The IMF provides a $ 1.4 billion aid package to Pakistan to help the country cope with the effects of the corona pandemic. For fear of the economic consequences, Prime Minister Khan has refused to quarantine the whole of Pakistan, but schools and companies have been closed at provincial level.
Discount on food for the poor
The government is investing $ 64.8 million in subsidizing basic goods for five million poor Pakistanis in five months. The poor households should be able to buy certain foods such as flour and sugar at a discounted price. Food prices in Pakistan have risen rapidly in recent times, partly as a result of grasshopper attacks on the harvests in Sindh and Punjab. At the same time, the government is grappling with a number of other economic problems such as low tax revenue, high debt, rising inflation and a weak currency that has been devalued. The situation has caused Khan to see his popularity decline.
Rescue package from the World Bank
The World Bank presents a rescue package of $ 1.9 billion to be distributed among 25 developing countries. The money is a contribution to the fight against the corona pandemic. $ 200 million goes to Pakistan.
Pearl’s killer gets a reduced sentence
The highest court in the province of Sindh lowers the sentence for the man convicted in 2002 for the murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl. The sentence is reduced from the death sentence to seven years in prison. British-born militant Islamist Ahmed Omar Said Sheikh has been in prison since 2002, when Pearl, who was the chief of The Wall Street Journal in South Asia, was abducted and beheaded in Karachi. At the time of the murder, Pearl was investigating militant Islamism in Pakistan. Three other people convicted of the murder of Pearl are acquitted on the same day. However, all four remain in prison when the acquittals and the penalty reduction are appealed by the state to the Supreme Court.
Pakistan is being quarantined
Prime Minister Khan orders a “total shutdown” of the entire Pakistan. It occurs when the country notes South Asia’s highest number of confirmed cases of coronary infection in the population; 2,000 inhabitants have been tested positive. The total closure involves curfew, strictly monitored by the military. The authorities also restrict people’s freedom of movement within cities. Khan has been criticized for slow response to corona pandemic. Critics believe he has taken too much into account the country’s economy.
The military helps
24th of March
The army is deployed to help prepare the community for the expected corona epidemic. The soldiers will mainly help with transport and the like but also be able to assist if curfews are required.
Borders are closed, flights are stopped
Pakistan stops all international passenger flights to and from the country in an attempt to curb the spread of the new corona virus, which has caused a pandemic. When the decision is made, Pakistan has 524 confirmed cases of coronary infection and three deaths. Freight flights will continue, and diplomats will be allowed to travel inland. The borders to Iran and Afghanistan are closed.
Pashtun conductor free against bail
Manzur Pashtin, leader of the Pashtuns Protection Movement (PTM), is released on bail after a decision ten days earlier by a Pakistani court. The Pashtun leader was arrested in January accused of, among other things, revolt, incitement against people’s group and agitation against the state. PTM has been protesting peacefully against the military’s actions in the seven Pashtun clan areas (Fata) since May 2018 when these areas in northwestern Pakistan merged with the neighboring province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and lost their far-reaching autonomy. Since then, several military offensives have been made in Fata, where militant Islamist networks have been established. The level of violence in Pakistan has subsequently declined significantly. However, PTM says that calm has been achieved at a high price: a number of disappearances and extra-judicial killing. PTM demonstrates peacefully but has made very critical statements against the military.
The brain behind the Bombay Council in 2008 is imprisoned
Hafiz Said, who is suspected of having planned the terrorist attack in Bombay in 2008, is sentenced to six years in prison in Pakistan for other terrorist offenses. Said, who is to serve his sentence in Lahore, is wanted in India for the bombing in Bombay when ten militant Islamists with guns, grenades and other weapons killed 166 people and injured hundreds. It took the Indian authorities three days to restore the tranquility of the city. Said is a minister and is regarded by both the UN and the United States as a global terrorist leader.
New resolution: child murderers should be hung in public
The National Assembly (lower house) votes for a non-binding resolution which states that persons convicted of murder or rape of children should be executed by hanging in public place. The resolution is adopted after the country has been affected by several notable cases of child abuse. However, Shirin Mazari, the minister responsible for human rights, emphasizes that the resolution was not tabled at the initiative of the government and that her ministry opposes it. In Pakistan, sexual abuse of minors, child pornography and human trafficking of children became illegal in March 2016.
Islamists are sentenced to prison for the protests against Asia Bibi
A Rawalpindi court sentenced some 80 members of the radical Islamist party Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) to 55 years in prison each for rioting in connection with the mass protests following the acquittal of Christian woman Asia Bibi (see December 2018). Bibi was charged with blasphemy and released in 2018. She now lives in Canada.
The death sentence against Musharraf is lifted
Lahore’s Supreme Court annulled the death sentence against President Pervez Musharraf on the grounds that it is contrary to the Constitution. Musharraf was sentenced to death for treason by a special court in December 2019. Musharraf lives in exile in Dubai. He dismissed the verdict as a revenge act. The country’s military has expressed great dissatisfaction with the death sentence against Musharraf. The trial of Musharraf was initiated in 2013 on the initiative of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whose political arch rival was Musharraf (who deposed Sharif in a military coup in 1999). Several other legal proceedings have been initiated against Musharraf, who in 2007 repealed the constitution and introduced a state of emergency.
Khan is trying to extend the mandate of the army commander
The Khan government presents a bill to Parliament that means that General Qamar Javed Bajwa could remain as the country’s army chief for another three years. Earlier attempts by Khan to extend the army chief’s mandate have been halted by the Supreme Court, which says it is in violation of the law.