Country Director of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Pakistan, Marc-André Franche has advised Pakistan that instead of striving to establish trade with Europe and the West, the country should focus on regional trade. Franche was of the view that trading with South Asian neighbors will help reduce poverty and bring innovation in various sectors. The UNDP chief believes that inequality in access to social services in Pakistan was one of the main causes for poverty.
The director revealed that Pakistan’s percentage of GDP spent on education is less than that of India and Bangla- desh. He observed that countries constituting higher positions on the UN Human Development index spend more on health and education, human resource development, accountability and transparency. Commenting on the upcoming May 11 elections, Franche assured that the UNDP would provide Pakistan with an opportunity to restructure its developmental priorities. Furthermore, he said that Pakistan should evolve a consensus on some key reforms and changes in budgetary allocations. The UNDP is supporting the Election Commission of Pakistan in organizing polls and considers it an achievement by the ECP to introduce improvements in the system such as voter’s education, and the training of the polling and security staff.