Pakistan is the world's seventh most populous country, with an estimated 182.1 million inhabitants, 21 percent of whom live on less than US$1.25/day. The country's annual average per-capita income remains low at US$1,260/year. Pakistan continues to struggle with high rates of infant, child and maternal mortality, low levels of literacy, as well as with growing insecurity, particularly along the country's porous border with Afghanistan. The country is also prone to natural disasters such as flooding, drought and earthquakes. The Government of Canada has provided humanitarian assistance through it's response to floods in Pakistan as well as to other humanitarian situations.

Over forty percent of Pakistan's population is 18 years old or younger. Pakistan's public education system is inadequate and is not meeting the needs of many children, nor is it adequately preparing young Pakistani men and women for employment. Pakistan has the second highest number of out-of-school children in the world: an estimated 5.4 million primary school-age children are out of school.

Pakistan ranks 146 out of 186 countries on the United Nations Development Programme's 2013 Human Development Index. With some of the lowest development indicators in South Asia, its national development objectives are in jeopardy.

The economic crises of recent years along with increased domestic instability, have contributed to a growing budget deficit, inflation and a rise in poverty. Because of the specific challenges that women face, they form a large percentage of the poor. Pervasive gender discrimination prevents women and girls from accessing basic services and from participating fully in the economy and society more generally.

Pakistan's historic May 2013 general election marked the first transition between democratically elected governments. The results of this election and the increasing independence of Pakistan's media and judiciary demonstrate a trend toward a more democratic Pakistan.

Find out what Canada is doing to support development in Pakistan.

Thematic Focus

Canada is supporting the Government of Pakistan's development and poverty reduction efforts, articulated in the Pakistan Vision 2025 framework, which aims to identify the "key drivers of growth which will transform Pakistan into a vibrant and prosperous nation by 2025".

Children and youth

Canada focuses its development programming in this area on supporting efforts to improve the quality of teacher training in the country and to build the capacity of district education managers. Primary and middle school teacher training programs will benefit from instruction on improved teaching practices and the physical repair and upgrade of training facilities. Canada is deepening its involvement in teacher training and professional development. With this focus, Canada contributes to improving the quality of basic education and to strengthening access to education for poor people, giving equal attention to the needs of girls and boys. Canada is also investing in the fight to eradicate polio in Pakistan as part of the Government of Canada commitment to support the global "Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan 2013–2018".

Key anticipated results

  • Improve quality and delivery of teacher training programs to male and female teachers through enhancing knowledge, skills, and competencies at the primary, middle, and secondary school levels.
  • Eradicate Polio in Pakistan.

Economic growth

Canada's programming seeks to improve the enabling environment for women's economic participation and to increase the incomes they generate when they do participate. Beyond providing women with skills for employment, Canada's programs also raise awareness and respect for women's rights through public campaigns, social mobilization and training.

For example, Canada continues to support the implementation of legislation to improve women's working conditions and to protect workers' rights. National and provincial level data collection and monitoring are being strengthened to track women's contribution to the economy for use in planning how to better integrate women into Pakistan's workforce at all levels. As well, Canada is working to help women generate small business income through microfinance programs and basic financial literacy and numeracy training.

Key anticipated results

  • Improve labour conditions—policies, legislation, and an enabling environment—for women's formal and informal employment.
  • Improve employment conditions and income-earning opportunities for women.


Canada also supports targeted initiatives to promote democracy by supporting accountable public institutions through improved citizen engagement and more effective democratic processes

Key anticipated results

  • Strengthen existing democratic institutions (e.g. parliament(s) and judiciary).
  • Support civil society to reinforce the government's accountability to its citizens.

Progress on Aid Effectiveness

Pakistan maintains a high level of ownership and control over the formulation of national development policies and over its relations with the donor community.

Donor harmonization in Pakistan is improving, partly because of successful coordination around emergency assistance requirements as a result of the 2010 floods, humanitarian assistance to internally displaced populations within Pakistan and the 2013 national elections. Canada is also contributing to enhancing donor coordination in the education sector.



Children and youth

  • Trained nearly 420,000 primary and secondary teachers in modern teaching methods that shift the focus from rote learning to methods that actively engage students of all abilities in the learning process.
  • Supported the reconstruction of 42 schools, which were destroyed in the wake of the 2005 South Asia earthquake, providing safe learning spaces for more than 5,000 children.
  • Delivered 218,440 metric tonnes of iodized salt to protect an additional 54.6 million people, including 1.47 million newborns, from iodine deficiency. (This is via multilateral programming).

Economic growth

  • Reached 174,000 Pakistani women and men with a basic financial literacy program, bringing the project total to more than 339,000 people.
  • Helped train 1,500 underprivileged women and men in textiles, hospitality and entrepreneurship, with 80 percent of those completing training engaged in relevant employment. 


  • Strengthened the management of the Election Commission of Pakistan, including the establishment of the first gender unit in the Election Commission of Pakistan.

Children and youth

  • Contributed to the provision of stipends for close to 400,000 girls to keep them in middle school.
  • Supported efforts to increase treatment of tuberculosis by using mobile phones and financial incentives, to help a network of private clinics serving poor communities in Karachi find twice as many people with tuberculosis in 2011 compared to the previous year. (This is via multilateral programming).

Economic growth

  • Trained more than 23,000 aspiring women entrepreneurs in basic financial literacy.
  • Supported 20,000 self-employed women through projects that increased incomes and financial decision-making power in the dairy, embellished fabric, glass bangles and seedling sectors.

2014-2015 international assistance disbursements to Pakistan (in millions of dollars)

Global Affairs Canada43.65
Other departments and sources0.83