In recent years, Pakistan has made significant progress in key development areas. The 18th amendment to the country’s constitution in 2010 introduced sweeping governance reforms, devolving power and responsibilities from the federal government to the provinces. In 2018, Pakistan saw its second democratic transition of power from one civilian government to another. In the same year, the country took the historic decision to merge the chronically neglected Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) into the adjoining province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. This move will finally enable marginalized people to become full legal citizens with the same civil and political rights as all other citizens of Pakistan.
Several challenges persist, however. Pakistan remains plagued by poverty, social inequity, violent unrest, weak democratic institutions. Water shortage is becoming a critical issue. Pakistan is among the most water stressed countries in the world with a water availability of 1,000 cubic meters per person only. Water scarcity is also a major bone of contention with neighboring India. The current demographic trend and climate change are both factors which will in future exacerbate the water crisis even further. Water is also becoming an increased topic embraced in the political agenda throughout most of the parties.
With a view to consolidate past experiences, the last SDC country strategy 2017-2019 in Pakistan focuses on two domains of interventions, the water governance and the local state building domains, including the promotion of human rights. Additionally to these two domains, the SDC supports artistic and cultural activities especially focusing on the promotion of the Sustainable Development Goals. Gender equality, good governance, disaster risk reduction and conflict sensitive project approaches are used throughout the program.