Supporting The Public Sector of Pakistan



Public spending on education was 2.4 per cent of GDP in 2010. There are five years of primary education starting at the age of five and seven years of secondary. Some 52 per cent of pupils complete primary school (2010).

Private schooling is available throughout Pakistan, with education ranging from primary through to tertiary level. Private school systems include those in the international Beaconhouse system, which claims to be the largest private school system in the world; other private institutions include City Schools, Roots Schools and Lahore Grammar Schools.

Public–private partnerships have been present in the education system in Pakistan since the late 20th century. For example, the ‘Adopt-a-School programme’ was initially introduced in Pakistan in 1997 by a semi-governmental body of Sindh Education Foundation in an effort to improve the quality of education in public schools through systematic collaboration between public and private institutions. The success of previous projects has led to more public–private partnership projects in the education sector opening up across the country. Examples include the Balochistan Education Support Project (see box).

In October 2013, the Higher Education Commission recognised 151 degree-awarding institutions, 84 of which were in the public sector. Allama Iqbal Open University was established in 1974, the first open university in Asia. Fatima Jinnah Women’s University, Rawalpindi, opened in 1998 and was Pakistan’s first university exclusively for women. The female–male ratio for gross enrolment in tertiary education is 0.90:1 (2011). Literacy among people aged 15–24 is 71 per cent (2009).



Public spending on health was one per cent of GDP in 2010. The network of medical services includes hospitals, dispensaries, rural health centres and basic health units. The largest hospitals are called tertiary care facilities, of which there are around 20, mostly located in the major cities. The private medical sector serves around 70 per cent of the population, which is largely funded by a fee-for-service system. Many employers, such as the army and Pakistan Railways, provide in-house medical provision.

Family planning services are given at family welfare centres. Approximately 92 per cent of the people use an improved drinking water source and 48 per cent have access to adequate sanitation facilities (2010). Malaria remains a serious problem. There are 90 recognised medical colleges in Pakistan (2014). The principal teaching hospitals are in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar and Quetta. Infant mortality was 59 per 1,000 live births in 2011 (139 in 1960).

Pakistan has a small but growing pharmaceutical industry, which sold around US$1.8 billion worth of products in 2010. The industry is split between domestic and multinational companies; the multinationals GlaxoSmithKline and Searle both have Pakistani divisions operating in the country.



There is 260,420 km of roads, 65 per cent of which are paved.

Rail: Pakistan’s rail network encompasses 7,791 km of track and 781 stations. Main lines run north–south, linking the main ports and the industrial centre of Karachi with Islamabad, 1,600 km to the north. All major cities and most industrial centres are linked by rail. Pakistan’s rail network is operated by the state-owned Pakistan Railways.

Ports: There are several large ports located in Pakistan, the most important of which is Karachi port, which handles the bulk of foreign trade. Port Qasim, south-east of Karachi, is also an important port. Both are run by the state, but have worked with the private sector to develop some of the facilities, such as a food court at Karachi port.

Airports: The largest international airport in Pakistan is Jinnah International in Karachi; other international airports are located in Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar and Quetta. The majority of civil airports in Pakistan are operated by the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority, the only exception being the privately owned Sialkot International Airport, which is owned and operated by the Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry.