A Conceptual Framework

Poverty has been an economic as well as social concern since time immemorial. According to their respective systems and settings, various religious, sociopolitical and economic ideologies have provided their responses varying in thoughts and actions and with different degrees of success. For instance, the socialist philosophy sought common ownership of all means of production and, therefore, proposed an agenda whereby everyone was asked to contribute according to his or her ability and get what was duly needed. In capitalism, there is overwhelming emphasis on individualism, yet it also proposes a welfare state that attempts to satiate the equity demands.

An interesting phenomenon with the capitalist model is that it assigns economic initiative to the individual, while the distribution initiative and action is left to the state. It is thus quite paradoxical that the individual is absolved of an important responsibility. However, we are well aware of the very impressive record of the capitalist West in terms of equity and mass welfare.

Sweden, France and even the US provide good example, where comprehensive transfer programmes are financed through taxation. One may say that in the Western model, poverty-related issues are addressed at the macro level, where the individual shares the costs in a state-sponsored tax-transfer mechanism.

Because of certain extremities, with respect to the individual and the society, imbalances have been visible in the capitalist and socialist approaches, whereas solution lied in a balance approach that was comprehensive as well. This leads us to yet another ideology, that is Islam, which emphasises the moral aspects of economic policy, whereas both capitalism and socialism have been “neutral” in this respect.

Mohibul Haq Sahibzada


Source: Poverty Alleviation in Pakistan: Present Scenario and Future Strategy, Mohibul Haq Sahibzada. Republished with permission.

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