Pakistan Labor Market

According to official statistics, more than two-fifths of Pakistanis work in agriculture, one-fifth in industry, construction and mining, and the rest in trade, transport, service and other sectors.

According to statistics, unemployment has been around 5–7 percent since the 1990s, with a temporary peak above 8 percent in 2003. But the statistics are not very reliable and the definition of what “work” means is very wide. Underemployment is widespread with many seasonal jobs and extensive street sales.

Pakistan has often been criticized for the widespread child labor. In recent years, however, some work has been done to improve the country’s reputation. According to the United Nations International Labor Organization (ILO), the previously noted use of toddlers to sew soccer in the city of Sialkot has been completely stopped. The number of children working in weaving rugs has also fallen sharply according to the ILO. Pakistan has adopted the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and most of the ILO Charter, including those prohibiting children under the age of 14 from working. In practice, most such laws are ignored and still millions of children (a commonly occurring figure is just over three million) are forced to work for the family’s living.

But living conditions in Pakistan are so difficult that not all human rights activists demand a total ban on child labor, as long as every income is necessary for the family’s existence. The main goal is to get rid of the dangerous and heavy work and make sure that the work does not prevent the children from going to school.

There are also working conditions that can be likened to life traits, where people, due to indebtedness or feudal dependence, are forced to do unpaid work without the opportunity to leave.

Less than a quarter of Pakistani women (23 percent in 2016) work outside their homes and are generally paid significantly less than men. This is explained both by women’s generally poorer education and by a generally hostile attitude towards women in Pakistani society.

  • COUNTRYAAH: List of key population facts of Pakistan, covering most basic population data, religion statistics, and language profiles.

Pakistan Population

There are trade unions, but large groups in the labor market are not allowed to negotiate wages collectively and within the state sector, the right to strike is limited. Strikes are often prohibited on the grounds that they are dangerous to society. Employers can also let company-friendly unions organize their employees, making it difficult for the right unions to get into these workplaces.



3.0 percent (2019)

Youth Unemployment

6.0 percent (2019)



New Jail for Nawaz Sharif

24 December

Pakistan’s former prime minister Nawaz Sharif is sentenced for the second time to corruption in the same year, now to seven years in prison and $ 10.8 million in fines. As in the previous judgment (see July 2018), Sharif denies what he has been accused of. This judgment concerns the conduct of his family business in the Middle East.

Financial support from the Arab Emirates

December 21

The United Arab Emirates is investing $ 3 billion in Pakistan’s central bank to help boost foreign exchange reserves and make it easier for Pakistan, which is suffering from a lack of cash, to pay off its debt.

More money from Saudi Arabia

December 14

The Central Bank receives another $ 1 billion in support from Saudi Arabia, which in October granted a large support package to the crisis-hit Pakistan (see October 2018).

USA: Pakistan violates religious freedom

13th of December

The United States for the first time places Pakistan on its list of countries that systematically violate – or allow systematic violations of – religious freedom. Pakistan says the measure is “politically motivated” and that the US government should review the rapidly increasing Islamophobia and anti-Semitism in the United States.

Islamist leader Rizvi is prosecuted

1 December

Preacher Khadim Hussain Rizvi, leader of the Islamist party TLP, is charged with terrorism and incitement. Several other TLP leaders are also being prosecuted. They are accused of calling for mutiny in connection with the mass demonstrations in October against the release of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who in 2009 was sentenced to death for blasphemy. TLP representatives also called for the assassination of the judge who acquitted Asia Bibi, as well as calling Prime Minister Khan “the son of the Jews”. The defendants risk life imprisonment if found guilty.


Eighteen organizations are leaving the country

November 30

Eighteen international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) leave Pakistan when the 60-day deadline has expired by the government giving the organizations to leave the country. Among the runaway organizations are World Vision and ActionAid. Behind the decision lies a growing distrust of the intelligence service against the organizations suspected of providing foreign powers with information about Pakistan. It has become common for intelligence officers to visit the aid organizations’ offices.

A strike against the Islamist party

November 24

Police arrest Islamist leader Khadim Hussain Rizvi and strike against his political party TLP (Tehrik-Labaik Pakistan) in Punjab and Karachi. Hundreds of TLP supporters are arrested. The decision is made two days before the TLP will hold a large party meeting in Islamabad. The TLP organized major protests against the acquittal of a Christian woman who was sentenced to death eight years earlier for insulting the Prophet Muhammad (see October 2018).

Suicide bombings against Shia Muslims

November 23

The Islamist extremist group IS taking on a suicide attack in a marketplace in the city of Kalaya in the clan area of ​​Orakzai in the northwest. According to an official source, 33 people were killed in the act, while IS via its website Amaq claims that “57 Shiites were killed and 75 injured”. The attack is carried out in a Shiite-dominated area.

Attacks against the Chinese Consulate

November 23

Two policemen are killed when a group of armed perpetrators attack the Chinese consulate in Karachi. The building is secured before anyone in the staff can be harmed. The perpetrators say the attack is aimed at the Beijing regime, which they regard as “an oppressor.” Attacks on Chinese workers building new infrastructure in Pakistan have occurred on several occasions recently.


Protests when death sentence for blasphemy is lifted

October 31st

The Supreme Court cancels the death sentence of 2009 against a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, for blasphemy. The verdict was based on allegations from Muslim women in the village where Asia Bibi lived. The verdict received international attention, and in 2010 Pope Benedict XVI appealed for the release of Asia Bibi. In 2015, Pope met Francis’ daughter’s wife. The acquittal triggers protests among conservative Muslims around Pakistan. The ultra-conservative group TLP (Tehrik-e-Labaik Pakistan) calls for murder of the HD judges and rebellion against the military who called for calm. After a settlement with the government, the protests cease. The free judgment is appealed and Asia Bibi is not allowed to leave the country. About 40 people are in prison in Pakistan sentenced for life imprisonment or capital punishment, according to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Saudi support package

October 23

The government announces that Pakistan has been granted debt relief for $ 6 billion by Saudi Arabia. At the same time, Riyadh borrows three billion in foreign currency for one year. The package also includes Pakistan postponing payment of Saudi oil for three billion over three years.

The government retains the majority in the general election

October 14

In parliamentary elections, PTI wins 15 of the 36 seats that are at stake. PTI’s alliance party PML gets 2 seats. As a result, the bipartisan government has 177 of the total 342 seats, ie a barely majority. The opposition PML-N extends its mandate to 85.


Review of contracts with China

September 28

The government will review all Pakistani contracts with links to China’s major infrastructure projects (Belt and Road Initiative, BRI, “New Silk Road”), including a planned railway between Karachi and Peshawar. The reason for the review is that Pakistan’s foreign debt is growing rapidly.

Saudi Arabia provides financial support

September 19

Prime Minister Khan is visiting Saudi Arabia, which is usually the first destination for Pakistani heads of government. A payment crisis makes it difficult for Pakistan to pay off loans from China. Khan guards the Saudis to secure new funding. A few days later, Khan announces that Saudi Arabia has promised to fund three energy and infrastructure projects under the Sino-Pakistani Economic Corridor (CPEC). The Saudis will also invest in a new oil refinery at the planned deep water port in Gwadar.

Nawaz Sharif is released on bail

September 19

Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is released pending his 10-year prison sentence.

Pompeo visits Khan

September 5

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visits Prime Minister Khan, formerly a sharp critic of US actions in the region, in Islamabad. Both parties express cautious optimism about a fresh start on the strained relations between the two countries. The agenda is mainly the situation in Afghanistan. The US accuses Pakistan of indirectly supporting the Taliban and the Haqqani network with several militant groups in Afghanistan, with the aim of undermining the Kabul government, which is suspected of forming stronger ties with India.

New president appointed

September 4th

Arif Alvi, a former dentist and close ally of Prime Minister Khan, is elected new president by an electoral assembly consisting of both federal and federal chambers of the federal parliament. Alvi has studied at two universities in the United States and belongs to the country’s upper middle class. He is one of the founders of PTI and was the party’s secretary general between 2006 and 2014. After that he was a member of parliament. The office of president is now mainly ceremonial, while the political power lies with the government and parliament. However, an important task for the head of state is to be a link between the federal government and the four provincial governments.

The US freezes more military support

1 September

The US freezes $ 300 million in military aid to Pakistan, after the White House accused Islamabad of supporting the Afghan Taliban and other violent Islamist movements, including by giving them sanctuary inside Pakistan near the Afghan border. Pakistan has received more than $ 33 billion in military aid from the United States since 2002 to combat terrorism in the region.


Imran Khan takes over as head of government

August 18th

Imran Khan swears office and takes over as prime minister at a ceremony in Islamabad. The day before he has passed a vote of confidence in the National Assembly. Khan reiterates in a number of promises to answer corrupt government officials. The new government with 15 members is presented via Twitter. Among other things, Shah Mahmood Qureshi returns as Foreign Minister, a post he also held in 2008-2011 before switching party from PPP to Khan’s PTI.

Expanded military cooperation with Russia

9th of August

Russia and Pakistan enter into an agreement that allows the Russian military to train Pakistani officers. In recent years, Russia has sold combat helicopters to Pakistan and both countries have been practicing counter-terrorism together in both Russia and Pakistan.


PTI initiates government negotiations

July 30

Imran Khan and PTI start government negotiations with a number of independent politicians and some small parties.

Requirements for new elections

July 27

About 15 parties, including the PML-N, form the protest party All Parties Conference (APC). It refuses to accept the election result and calls for protests with demands for new elections. The PPP also rejects the election result, but stands outside the APC and announces that it will participate in the work of Parliament. The election is criticized by the US and the EU, among others, and independent election observers say it has not been free and fair. The head of the EU observer group, Michael Gahler, describes a “systematic attempt to undermine the former ruling party through corruption cases, court clashes and terrorist charges against its leaders and candidates”. The US has expressed criticism for shortcomings in the process before the election, but says it is ready to cooperate with the new government.

Imran Khan and PTI drummer

July 25

PTI wins 116 out of 272 seats in the parliamentary elections, while PML-N gets 64 seats. PTI leader Imran Khan proclaims victory for PTI, which has attracted many young urban residents with promises of reform and zero tolerance against corruption. 137 mandates are needed for his own majority, so Khan must seek support from other parties in order to form government. The PML-N and PPP say that there has been a serious election fraud and that the election process has been manipulated. The Election Commission rejects the allegations and says that the delays that the PML-N rules against are due to technical problems. In many places PTI supporters go out on the streets and celebrate. The PPP receives 43 seats while the other parties and independent candidates share the remaining 47 seats.

Violent when Pakistan goes for election

July 25

On election day, several violent attacks occur. The worst is demanding more than 30 people’s lives in Quetta, Baluchistan, when a suicide bomber targets police officers guarding an polling station. IS takes on the deed. Minor bomb attacks also occur. One man is killed by a grenade in Baluchistan and another in clashes between party workers from various camps in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The suicide bomber is shot to death

July 20

During a raid on a hiding place in a village in Baluchistan, security forces shot dead Hidayat Ullah, who was behind the suicide bombing in Mastung on July 13 (see July 2018). Ullah led an IS group in Baluchistan and has previously been a jihadist in Afghanistan and fought against the international forces there.

Sharif is arrested at the airport

July 14

Former PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif is arrested when he lands at Lahore airport and is taken directly to Islamabad. He will then be taken to a prison in the garrison city of Rawalpindi and later to a kind of guesthouse that will serve as his prison.

Attempts at a general election require at least 149 lives

July 13

A suicide bomber kills at least 149 people when he detonates his explosive charge in the Mastung district outside Quetta in southwest Pakistan. The deed takes place at a general election where local politician Siraj Raisani speaks to his supporters. In addition to Raisani, some 10 children aged six to eleven are killed. Around 190 people are injured, of which some 70 have to be hospitalized. Both the Taliban and the Islamic State (IS) terror group say they are behind the attack. A few hours earlier, at least four people were killed in an attack on an election in Banni in the northwest.

The PML-N accuses the government of rigging the election

July 12

Shahbaz Sharif, President of the PML-N, accuses the transitional government of rigging the election with the aim of losing the ruling party. He says the authorities have detained hundreds of the party’s election workers and sympathizers ahead of Nawaz Sharif’s planned return from London. A police officer in Lahore states for media that at least 250 PML-N supporters have been arrested in the city.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is up for election

July 12

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Formal Chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and son of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto who was assassinated in 2007, is running in the July 25 parliamentary elections.

Army: “no direct role” in the election

July 10

The military has “no direct role” in the general elections on July 25, an army spokesman reports. The statement is a response to rumors that the armed forces are manipulating the electoral process through pressures on the media and on PML-N politicians. The aim would be to ensure that the ruling party is not allowed to retain power because of its efforts to improve relations with India. The Army spokesman says that the only task of the military is to ensure that elections are conducted freely and fairly. Therefore, more than 37,000 soldiers will be deployed around the country on Election Day.

First major election-related assault

July 10

About 20 people are killed when a 16-year-old suicide bomber detonates his explosive charge in the middle of a crowd at a Peshawar election meeting. The victims include Haroon Bilour, local leader of the National Awami Party (ANP). The attack happens when Bilour starts to speak in front of his followers. The ANP has long been the target of violent Islamists because of the party’s sharp criticism of Islamic extremism. The Pakistani Taliban movement TTP is taking on the deed, which is the first major election-related attack. General elections will be held on July 25.

Ten years in prison for Sharif

July 6

Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is sentenced by a Islamabad court to ten years in prison for corruption in connection with property deals in London. Sharif is also sentenced to the equivalent of $ 10 million in fines, and the government in Islamabad is ordered to confiscate the properties in London. At the same time, Sharif’s daughter Maryam is sentenced to seven years in prison for similar crimes. Both are in London when the judges fall. At a press conference in the British capital, Sharif accused the Pakistani military of being behind the legal process against him and his family, and that the reason for this “silent coup” should have been Sharif’s quest to improve relations with India. Smaller protests against the verdict are erupting in Islamabad and in some cities in Punjab province, where Sharif has his strongest political foothold.Several Pakistani journalists have testified about pressure from the military not to publish positive articles on the PML-N’s election campaign. The military says it does not interfere in media work.


Criticism for weak efforts against terrorist financing

June 28

The intergovernmental body Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which is working to combat money laundering and extremism financing, has attached Pakistan to its so-called gray list of countries that do not do enough to counter terrorist financing. Pakistan was also on the list between 2012 and 2015.

PML-N makes election promises for better economy

June 25

Shahbaz Sharif and his party PML-N launch their election campaign ahead of the July 25 parliamentary elections. The party’s main election promise is to invest heavily in infrastructure projects to boost the economy.

PTI launches its election campaign

June 24th

Imran Khan and his party PTI launch their election campaign ahead of the July 25 parliamentary elections with a major manifestation in Khan’s election district Mianwali, 20 miles southwest of Islamabad. PTI promises big changes in the country if the party wins the election: corruption is going to be eradicated, foreign investment is going to flow into the country and jobs for young Pakistanis are going to increase.

“Taliban leader Fazlullah dead”

June 15

Afghan President Ghani says Pakistani Taliban leader Maulana Fazlullah was killed by a US drone on June 14 in the Afghan province of Kunar near the Pakistan border. Fazlullah is believed to have ordered the 2012 attempted murder of Malala Yousafzai, who received the Nobel Peace Prize for her fight for girls’ right to education. Fazlullah’s TTP (Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan) group was also behind the school massacre in Peshawar in December 2014, when more than 150 people, the majority of children, were killed. US defense headquarters Pentagon has not confirmed Fazlullah’s death.

Pakistan is criticized in UN report on Kashmir

June 14

The UN Human Rights Council publishes its first report on violence by India and Pakistan in Kashmir. The report spans the period between January 2016 and April 2018 and addresses particularly sharp criticism of India, including for “chronic impunityfor violence carried out by the security forces ”. The Council criticizes the Armed Forces Special Powers Act of 1990 which states that soldiers in Kashmir cannot be prosecuted without the permission of the central government. According to the report, Indian forces were responsible for 145 cases of extrajudicial killing during the current period while the resistance groups performed 20. The report also states that “a variety of human rights violations” are committed in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, but that they “are of a other caliber or magnitude and of a more structural nature. ” For example, there is a lack of freedom of expression and assembly which makes it difficult to get information about what is happening in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir. Pakistan should “stop using terrorism laws to persecute those who engage in peaceful political and social activities and those who express dissenting views”. The Council’s head, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, now wants it to decide to carry out an independent international investigation into the allegations of human rights crimes committed in Kashmir by both India and Pakistan. The Indian Foreign Ministry dismisses the report as “misleading and tendentious”. The Pakistani government welcomes such an inquiry and stresses that Islamabad has ordered an investigation since 2016. now wants it to decide to conduct an independent international investigation into the allegations of human rights crimes committed in Kashmir by both India and Pakistan. The Indian Foreign Ministry dismisses the report as “misleading and tendentious”. The Pakistani government welcomes such an inquiry and stresses that Islamabad has ordered an investigation since 2016. now wants it to decide to conduct an independent international investigation into the allegations of human rights crimes committed in Kashmir by both India and Pakistan. The Indian Foreign Ministry dismisses the report as “misleading and tendentious”. The Pakistani government welcomes such an inquiry and stresses that Islamabad has ordered an investigation since 2016.

Again fire fighting in Kashmir

June 4th

Firing and new clashes along the Kashmir border occur just days after India and Pakistan agreed to stop the fighting. Both Pakistan and India are blaming the counterparty for breaking the 2003 ceasefire agreement yet again.

Judgment against former Foreign Minister is canceled

June 1st

Khawaja Asif, who was forced to resign as Foreign Minister in the spring (see April 2018), is allowed to stand in the upcoming elections. It decides the country’s highest court after revoking the lower court’s decision that Asif should not be allowed to hold government posts and other public offices.

Transitional government takes office

June 1st

After the government resigns on 31 May in accordance with the constitution, a transitional government will take over the country until the parliamentary elections are held on 25 July. The PML-N government party and the opposition have jointly appointed the politically independent former judge Nasir ul-Mulk as prime minister.


Central power increases control over Fata

May 31st

The seven Pashtun clan areas (Fata) in northwestern Pakistan are merged with the neighboring province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. It happens when the president signs a constitutional extension after both parliament’s chambers and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial assembly approve it. The changes are aimed at increasing the central power’s influence over Fata, which has so far had a great measure of self-government, and to improve the living conditions for Fata’s residents. An important reform is that Fata, which since 2001 has been a sanctuary for Taliban militants and other violent Islamist groups, is no longer free from the Pakistani judiciary (see Pashtun clan areas).

Agreement on ceasefire in Kashmir

30 May

India and Pakistan agree to halt gunfire across the so-called control line that separates the Pakistani and Indian territories in disputed Kashmir. The parties promise to respect the ceasefire agreement concluded in 2003. In the past year, violence along the border has escalated, causing tens of people to be killed on the Pakistani side while tens of thousands have been forced to leave their homes in the Indian-controlled border area.

Minister survives attempted murder

May 5th

Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal is shot in the right arm in a suspected murder attempt. The attack occurs after a public political meeting in his Punjab constituency. A suspected offender is arrested. The attempted murder is believed to have to do with the contentious laws against blasphemy (blasphemy). The Minister of the Interior is one of the politicians who have criticized the blasphemy law because they are often used to discriminate against religious minorities.


The Foreign Minister is forced to resign

26th of April

An Islamabad court has ruled that PML-N’s foreign minister Khawaja Asif is unfit for his post because he violated the electoral law when he failed to report a number of work permits in the United Arab Emirates. Asif is a close ally of the deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and he has made himself known as a loud critic of the military’s political influence.

China is Pakistan’s largest arms supplier

April 20

US arms sales to Pakistan have dropped significantly, from a value of $ 1 billion in 2010 to $ 21 million in 2017. Thus, China has gone about the United States and become the country’s largest arms supplier. China sold weapons to Pakistan for the equivalent of $ 514 million in 2017. That too is a decline compared to previous years, though not as great as in the case of the United States.

Sharif is excluded from life-long politics

April 13

The country’s highest court unanimously decides to ban former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who has resigned, to engage in politics for the rest of his life. Thus, the July 2017 ruling to disqualify Sharif from political activity was permanently suspended because he did not properly account for his financial assets (see July 2017).


PML-N wins the Senate election

March 3rd

When indirect elections are held to half of the 104 seats of the Senate (Parliament House), PML-N wins 15 of the 52 seats at stake. Together with its alliance parties, the government party thus retains a majority in the Senate. Both opposition parties PPP and PTI get 12 and 6 seats respectively. The senators are elected by the provincial parliaments and have mainly an advisory function. Half of the senators are replaced every three years. For the first time, a woman from the lowest Hindu caste is elected into the upper house. Hindus make up about 2 percent of Pakistan’s population and are described as an economically and socially discriminated group in society.


Sharif’s brother becomes new leader for PML-N

February 27th

Shahbaz Sharif is appointed new chairman of the PML-N government party. He replaces his big brother Nawaz Sharif, who the Supreme Court ordered to resign from the party leader post since he was dismissed as prime minister in 2017 due to suspicions of corruption within his family. Shahbaz Sharif formally assumes the party leader post on March 13, 2018. Nawaz Sharif is appointed by PML-N as party adviser “on a lifetime”.

Criticism for weak efforts against terrorist financing

February 26th

An international working group, made up of representatives from 37 countries and tasked with overseeing how the world’s countries fight terrorist financing, warns Pakistan that it may be blacklisted if the Islamabad government does not present a strategy for increased terrorist financing efforts by June 2018 at the latest. The Pakistani Government promises to work with the Monitoring Group to achieve this.

Sharif is forced to step down as party leader

February 22

Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is disqualified as party chairman for the PML-N by the Supreme Court. All decisions taken by Sharif as party leader are annulled. This also applies to his nominations of candidates for the Senate elections, which will be held in a couple of weeks. Sharif was forced to resign in 2017 due to corruption suspicions. He faces trial and the sentence is expected to drop in March 2018. Sharif has declared himself innocent and considers himself subject to a political plot.

Russia and Pakistan strengthen cooperation against terrorism

February 21st

A new Russian-Pakistani military commission has been formed to strengthen Pakistan’s capacity to fight terrorism. This is reported by the Russian news agency Tass. Pakistan comments on the establishment of the Commission with the government in Islamabad concerned about how the Islamic State terrorist organization is growing in neighboring Afghanistan.

Pakistani troops to Saudi Arabia

February 16th

The military announces that Pakistani soldiers will be sent to Saudi Arabia on a “training and counseling mission”. The military emphasizes that the soldiers should not be placed in any other Arab country. Pakistan has rejected Saudi requests to participate in the Saudi-led intervention of Yemen and has declared itself neutral in the conflict there.

Death penalty for lynching

February 7

A special court for terrorist crimes sentenced a man to death and 30 people to long prison sentences for the murder of a university student in 2017. The student was attacked by a crowd since he was accused of blasphemy (blasphemy).


Pakistan stops providing some intelligence to the US

January 12

In response to the US decision to withhold much of its military support for Pakistan due to Islamabad failing to fight Taliban and terrorist networks sufficiently, Pakistan decides to cease providing intelligence from certain sources to Washington.

The US freezes military support

January 4th

The United States holds most of the military support for Pakistan until the Islamabad government acts against the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Haqqani network, which “destabilizes the region and attacks American personnel.” In September 2017, the US froze $ 255 million in military aid to Pakistan for the same reason. The US budget for military assistance to Pakistan was $ 900 million in 2017 and is $ 700 million in 2018. A senior US official tells the media that it could be about nearly $ 2 billion in withdrawn aid and that it is being done to get Pakistan’s military and intelligence service to stop supporting Taliban and other Islamist groups. Pakistan reacts strongly to US.

Pakistan Labor Market