Pakistan is important for Norway through strong interpersonal ties, business and development cooperation.

Facts about Pakistan

The flag for Pakistan
Life expectancy
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GNI pr capita
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Percentage poor people (below 1.25$)
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The flag for Pakistan

Bilateral assistance million kroner

Bilateral assistance million kroner

Bilateral assistance million kroner

The peaceful and democratic transition from one civilian government to another in 2013 was a positive event for this country, whose history is characterized by military coups and assassinations. It was the first time in Pakistan’s history that such a transition had occurred.

There is nevertheless considerable pessimism with regard to Pakistan’s future. People have lost faith in politicians, the central government and the system. The country ranks at 126 of 175 countries on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index for 2014.

Indicators for social development, human rights, women’s rights and gender equality are either declining or stagnating. Pakistan ranks at 146 of 187 countries on the Human Development Index for 2014.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) advances large loans and claims that Pakistan’s economy is improving due to stable financial policy, good access to capital and money transfer, as well as lower oil prices.

Military operations in the border areas with Afghanistan aim to combat extremist terrorist groups. The number of terrorist actions therefore fell in the first half of 2014, but the humanitarian consequences are considerable. Major terrorist attacks, such as the attack on the primary school in Peshawar in December 2014, and violence against minorities and sectarian groups also make the security situation extremely difficult.

The new president and government in Kabul have improved bilateral relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan. There is some hope of strengthening the joint effort to fight terrorism and boosting economic relations and relations between the countries’ peoples.

The authorities’ statistics reveal that 12,4 per cent of the population live below the poverty line, but many experts believe that the proportion is much higher. Altogether 25 million children do not attend school, and around half the population, approximately 100 million people, are illiterate.

The UN millennium development goal to promote gender equality and empower women has not been achieved. Only 14 per cent of women in Pakistan work outside the agricultural sector, the lowest percentage in South Asia.

Norwegian development cooperation with Pakistan

The objective of the cooperation with Pakistan is to contribute to the development of good governance and to combat poverty. In 2014 Norway did not participate in sector development programmes and no budget support was given. Prioritized areas are good governance, education, rural development, women, gender equality and human rights, and security.

Good governance

Norway supports projects that aim to contribute to better governance and reinforcement of the principles of the rule of law.

A programme for institutional cooperation between Norwegian and Pakistani institutions was granted NOK 2,64 million in 2014. The objective is to enhance the capacity, competence and quality of the services offered by participating institutions.

The following institutions participated in the cooperation on surveying the risk of future earthquakes, surveying the risk in areas exposed to landslides, and training in the calculation of fish stocks:

  • NORSAR in cooperation with NED University of Engineering & Technology, Pakistan Meteorological Department
  • The Norwegian Mapping Authority with Survey of Pakistan
  • The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) with NED University of Engineering & Technology and the National University of Science & Technology
  • Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) with COMSATS Institute of Information Technology

Norway contributed NOK 2,1 million in support to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime’s (UNODC’s) crime prevention programme in Punjab province in 2014. Training of police, upgrading of equipment, a separate office for scene-of-crime investigation and greater cooperation with the prosecuting authorities have increased the capacity to present evidence before the court and to prosecute criminal acts. The Norwegian National Criminal Investigation Service (KRIPOS) has participated in the training of Pakistani police officers.

Education and training

In 2014, Norway contributed NOK 17,5 million to a national vocational training reform initiated by the German government’s development assistance organization GIZ. The national framework for vocational qualification was completed in 2014.

The standards of competence have been drawn up in cooperation with employers. A total of 54 training institutions have been assessed and found to comply with national standards. Altogether 4.000 teachers of vocational subjects have undergone further teacher training.

A bachelor degree in vocational training has been developed through a collaboration between two Pakistani and one German university. A legislative proposal for the development, regulation and use of apprentice schemes has been prepared.

A national information system for listing of job seekers and jobs in vocational subjects went live in 2014.

Since 2011, the programme’s fund for innovative training has encompassed 50.000 persons from groups that find it difficult to enter the labour market, i.e. youth, transgender persons, women, the disabled and persons from conflict-affected areas. Altogether 66 enterprises and potential employers are involved in the training.

Rural development

A total of NOK 13 million was disbursed to the CIADP rural development programme in 2014. In cooperation with local organizations, in 2014 CIADP has:

  • Built protective infrastructure and planted 75.000 trees to reduce the damaging effects of floods and landslides for 900 families
  • Installed LED lighting and LPG stoves to replace coke stoves, and reduced health injuries in 1.500 households
  • Provided income opportunities for 500 women through training and intermediate goods for egg production, beekeeping and fruit cultivation
  • Installed equipment in ten school laboratories and built twelve new classrooms at girls’ schools
  • Strengthened the network of local organizations and their capacity to implement projects in their local communities


Women, gender equality and human rights

Norway is one of the main donors of core funding to Pakistan’s largest human rights organization, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP). The grant from the Norwegian Embassy was NOK 3,1 million in 2014. HRCP is one of the key voices and defenders of human rights in Pakistan’s societal debate.

The organization reports that its dissemination of the human rights message increased by 48 per cent from 2013 to 2014. The assassination of HRCP’s coordinator in Multan, Rashid Rehman, following his defence of a person accused of blasphemy, led to extensive media debate on the blasphemy issue and to a discussion by the Punjab authorities on whether those accused of blasphemy should be given their own defence lawyers.

HRCP published a special report on the northern region of Gilgit Baltistan and a study on minority rights. Each year HRCP also publishes the highly regarded “State of Human Rights” report.

Norway contributed NOK 3,5 million to “Access to Justice for the Marginalized” (AGHS), headed by the human rights campaigner Asma Jahangir. The organization works to strengthen the legal position of marginalized groups.

AGHS has contributed to groundbreaking legal decisions in the higher courts, which have set a positive precedent for women’s rights. In 2014, 1.480 women, children and others who had been subject to human rights violations received legal aid from AGHS.

AGHS has helped to release women and children from prison. A total of 65 newly qualified women lawyers have been given training in gender-related cases and human rights through internship schemes, and 180 women in neighbourhoods of Lahore have raised their awareness of their rights.

Norway provided NOK 1,67 million in support to the Sahil organization to help raise awareness of children’s rights and to combat sexual abuse. Sahil’s awareness-raising work has attracted media attention. The military forces as well as private schools use Sahil’s material in their teaching to increase knowledge about the sexual abuse of children.

The Norwegian Embassy signed a new three-year agreement (2014-2016) with the Shirkat Gah organization and disbursed NOK three million in 2014 to its Women’s Empowerment and Social Justice Programme. The programme focuses on 13 districts in different parts of the country and is funded in partnership with other donors. Norway’s contribution represents 20 per cent of the total amount. Some results in 2014 are as follows:

  • 36.000 women received assistance with registering as voters to enable them to vote in the next election.
  • 1.174 persons received training in how to deliver better services for women. This resulted in more marriages, deaths, births and divorces being registered, while the number of child marriages and forced marriages fell in the 13 districts included in the project.
  • UN Women receives NOK 15 million over three years (2013‒2015) to help home-based workers enhance their opportunities to obtain paid work and access to social welfare benefits. Some results are as follows:
  • Altogether 1539 home-based women workers attended courses to increase their skills
  • Membership of the Home-Based Women Workers’ Association in Sindh province has risen by more than 20 per cent as a result of increased access to information
  • A total of 1283 home-based workers have obtained national identity cards
  • Two legislative proposals and two draft national policies for the protection of home-based women workers have been completed in Punjab and Sindh provinces
  • Eleven federal-level ministries have included gender performance indicators in their planning documents
  • The Norwegian Embassy continued its support for a vocational training project for women in Hunza, Gilgit-Baltistan with a grant of NOK 1,7 million in 2014. A locally based enterprise, Ciqam, was also established, based on the skills of these women. The Ciqam enterprise increased its profit by 28 per cent from 2013 to 2014.
  • Through a cooperation between the Coalition for the Rights of Minorities (CRM) and Global Human Rights Defence (GHRD) in the Netherlands, the Norwegian Embassy supported the promotion of social, economic and political rights of religious minorities in Pakistan. CRM conducted a nationwide survey on freedom of expression for minorities and included religious leaders and journalists in the work to bring about changes of attitude and promote minority rights. The Norwegian Embassy contributed NOK 300.000 in 2014

Other cooperation


Natural disasters

The objective is to alleviate suffering and save lives during natural disasters, reinforce international emergency preparedness and strengthen the resilience to natural disasters of local communities and vulnerable groups.

The Norwegian Embassy disbursed NOK 6,1 million to ACF International to reduce the vulnerability of local communities to natural disasters. The target group is the population in disaster-prone areas of Lower Dir, Upper Dir, Nowshera and Charsadda in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.

Between 95 and 97 per cent of local communities which have participated now have functioning crisis plans and have set up crisis management committees. They have also identified evacuation areas which are supplied with a certain amount of first aid equipment.

Focus Humanitarian Assistance received NOK 1,7 million in 2014 to improve disaster preparedness and response in a total of seven districts in Gilgit-Baltistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh provinces. Memoranda of understanding were signed with national and regional disaster management authorities. This contributed to institutional endorsement, sustainability and local ownership.

The training has revealed the importance of including women in disaster preparedness and response efforts. The parties concerned themselves ensured that half of the participants were women. 

The Norwegian Embassy continued a training programme to increase the local crisis management capacity of authorities and local humanitarian partners. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) is responsible for coordination of the training. The World Food Programme (WFP) administered the grant of NOK 1,36 million for 2014.

Interventions for peace, reconciliation and democracy

The objective is to prevent, mitigate and resolve armed conflict, save lives and contribute to development, support peaceful and democratic social development and strengthen global security.

The Norwegian Church Aid project “Just and Sustainable Peace in Pakistan” is being implemented by seven local organizations in three districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and four districts of Punjab province. Decision makers are included in peacebuilding initiatives which focus on religious extremism and abuse of religion. The way is paved for dialogue and cooperation across religious and sectarian divides in order to prevent extremism in local civil society.

Muslim and Christian religious leaders and teachers visit each other’s places of worship to understand others’ faith and values. The establishment of local peace groups, training of imams, development of a shared understanding among the five Waqfs, or madrassa boards (Islamic seminaries), and the publication of a textbook for peace and reconciliation in Islam are among the results in 2014.

Pakistani authorities have acknowledged the work to combat violent extremism, and Norwegian Church Aid’s partner organization has been invited to serve on a committee to promote social tolerance and harmony.

Counteracting radicalization

The Paiman Alumni Trust works through “peace structures” that include local women’s teams, civil society organizations, authorities and media in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

The objective is to counteract radicalization of youth and help local communities to respond to the challenges of extremism, promote peacebuilding and the early warning/rapid response apparatus which is mainly based on women’s observations.

The project helps participants to raise awareness of extremism in local communities. Women and youth in particular are given training to be able to cooperate with other local communities. The authorities and media in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province are included in the work to prevent extremism. The Norwegian Embassy provided a grant to Paiman of NOK 1,5 million in 2014.


The work aims to contribute to the attainment of millennium development goals 4 and 5 on reducing maternal and infant mortality, and to that of Millennium Development Goal 6 on halting the spread of HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Pakistan is off track with regard to the attainment of Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5.

Approximately 31 per cent of all children are underweight, and child mortality is 69 per thousand live births, measured as the number of deaths of children under one year old following a live birth.

Mortality among children aged less than five years stands at 94 per 1000 live births, and child mortality is among the highest in South Asia. The number of women who die during pregnancy and childbirth is 269 per 100.000 births, a figure which is also very high. The figures vary from one province to another, and for Baluchistan, maternal mortality is more than 700 per 100.000 births. Pakistan spends approximately 0.7 per cent of its GDP on health.

Norway supported the Norway – Pakistan Partnership Initiative (NPPI) between 2009 and 2014. Its objective was to reduce maternal, infant and child mortality (children less than five years old) by improving the health services offered to mothers and children, placing a greater focus on family planning and increasing the requests for maternal and child health services from families and local communities. NPPI is being implemented in Sindh province, which had the lowest score on maternal and child health indicators in Pakistan.

The programme has had a low pace of implementation and only NOK 142 million of the allocated NOK 250 million has been spent over a project period that extended longer than planned. A total of NOK 12 million of the allocated NOK 20 million was disbursed in 2014. A mid-term review of NPPI was undertaken in 2013 which showed disappointing results, and it was therefore decided to phase out the programme during 2014.

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Norway supported the work of NGOs in Pakistan to the tune of NOK 17,37 million in 2014. Among the recipients are Digni, Norwegian Church Aid and the Red Cross. The Red Cross works to create robust local communities to provide rapid response in disasters by strengthening the Pakistan Red Crescent Society.

During the widespread flooding in 2014 the Red Crescent had a significantly reduced response time compared to previous disasters. The Red Crescent also works actively to recruit women. It is easier for women to reach out to other women, and they can speak about sensitive topics such as family planning and child marriages.

Right to Play promotes the capacity of children and youth for team work, decision-making, communication, conflict resolution and peacebuilding through sports activities and play in schools. Right to Play bases its work on the notion that the ability of children and youth to work together is enhanced through play and sport.

The organization has involved more than 42.000 children, 48 per cent of whom are girls, in 80 schools and local communities in these types of activities in 2014.

Information campaigns about health, for example, are actively linked to sports tournaments and organized play. The project also created eight safe local playgrounds with contributions from parent-teacher cooperative committees. Norwegian support through the Norwegian Embassy amounted to NOK 1,45 million in 2014.

Published 28.08.2014
Last updated 02.10.2015