The new poverty line set by the government classifies 53 to 59 million people out of the population of 200 million, as poor. The Planning Commission headed by Mr Ahsan Iqbal has taken the initiative of resetting the poverty threshold that was last set in Pakistan in 2001-02 using the food energy intake method. That method was not representative of the entire population and hence according to the poverty rates based on the 2013-14 re-estimation, the new poverty line is set at Rs3,030.32 per adult equivalent per month, due to which 29.5 percent of the population will be considered poor.

It is commendable that the government has taken this decision to raise the bar to improve the standard of living of the average citizen, but how it hopes to align policy to do that remains vague. Even though Pakistan has performed well in reducing monetary poverty over the past 15 years, down from nearly 35pc of the population in 2001-02 to under 10pc in 2013-14, there is much to be done.

The government has been providing Rs100 billion assistance every year to the beneficiaries of programmes like Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) but the concept of welfare has researchers from around the world questioning its legitimacy to improve the lives of marginalised people. The Sustainable Development Goals aims to alleviate poverty by creating employment opportunities for the poor, not handing out welfare, which is a short-term solution to a consistent problem. The government must create a robust policy to ensure that it continues on its path to reducing monetary poverty, and this can only be done when gender parity is reduced, and the poor, both men and women, are empowered.