With its geographical position - bordering Afghanistan, China, India, and Iran and with access to the Arabian Sea - as well as its vast, proportionally young population (approx. 208 million) Pakistan has the potential to become a strong economic force in the wider region. However, the country still faces substantial challenges.
Over the last 15 years, Pakistan’s population has suffered from severe security issues, triggered by the post 9/11 war on terrorism. The economy and social coherence across the country were also heavily impacted by natural catastrophes, such as the earthquake in 2005 and major floods in 2010 and 2011, which have been exacerbated by environmental degradation.
Especially in marginalised areas such as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, FATA, Balochistan and Inner Sindh or South Punjab – semi-literacy among the young population goes hand-in-hand with structural poverty – a force for radicalisation.
Pakistan is a major development partner of the EU, with one of the largest programmes in Asia. For the 2014-2020 period, the amount available for bilateral cooperation with Pakistan is €°603 million, complemented with a bilateral investment allocation of €°15 million.
EU-Pakistan cooperation priorities focus on
- rural development (54% of the budget)
- education and vocational training (31% of the budget) and
- good governance, rule of law and human rights (15% of the budget).
This is complemented by regional and thematic programmes related, e.g., to migration.
- The EU has provided € 180 million to the Rural Support Programmes, national non-profit organisations created in 1983 with a community-led local development model and specific implementation modalities. These programmes help 45 million of Pakistan’s poorest people out of poverty.
- In particular, our women-centred SUCCESS programme in Sindh effectively reduces poverty at the household level, given women’s large presence in agricultural and economic workforces.
Education and vocational training:
- The EU’s support to the governments’ reforms on technical and vocational educational training has directly benefitted some 225,000 people. Thanks to a national qualifications framework, 1,200 enhanced, standardised training courses provide young people with recognised qualifications.
- The EU helps the governments of Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa improve access to basic education for millions of children.
Good governance, rule of law and human rights
- An EU programme has supported both the supply and demand sides of the rule of law by strengthening justice institutions and citizen rights, and by deepening ongoing efforts to secure peace and stability in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.