May 042008

Imagine; one out of every two Pakistanis is short on food. Imagine; one out of every two Pakistanis is food-insecure. Imagine; one out of every two Pakistanis is managing to subsist on less than 2,350 calories per day. In March 2007, there were 60 million Pakistanis short on food. That number now stands at 77 million; a 28 percent increase in just one year.
According to the World Food Programme (WFP), over the past year, “food prices in Pakistan have risen at least 35 percent, whereas the minimum wage has risen by just 18 percent, leading to a nearly 50 percent decline in the purchasing power of Pakistan’s poor…” On March 27, the World Bank warned that “Pakistan must take immediate action to prevent its economy from collapse” and that “painful adjustments” would be needed to prevent a crisis.

All right, one out of every two Pakistanis is going hungry and what do we do. We go out and buy killing machines. Imagine, over the past five years our decision-makers have bought killing machines worth $4.55 billion from the US alone. All right, Pakistan is now officially more water-stressed than is Ethiopia. What have we done about it? Well, we have bought 500 AMRAAM air-to-air missiles, 1,450 two-thousand-pound bombs, 500 JDAM bomb tail kits and 1,600 Enhanced Paveway laser-guided bomb kits. The bill: $667 million entirely paid with Pakistani national funds. All right, UNICEF says that 200,000 Pakistani children die annually because of unsafe drinking water–dysentery, diarrhoea, typhoid, and gastroenteritis. What do we do? We go out and buy 60 midlife update kits for F-16A/B combat aircraft. Total value: $891 million (of which $108 million was paid by the US under its Foreign Military Financing).

All right, we haven’t built a major dam in 27 years but we have paid out a colossal $1.43 billion for 18 new F-16C/D Block 50/52 combat aircraft with an option to buy 18 more. Not just that, we have already transferred $298 million to the US treasury for a hundred Harpoon anti-ship missiles (of which 70 have been delivered) and $95 million for 500 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles (of which 300 have been delivered).

What is the US up to? They have provided us $1.6 billion in Foreign Military Financing when they know very well that we actually need food for our undernourished citizenry and clean drinking water for our children.

According to the Pakistan Water Gateway, within the next 15 years at least “one out of every three Pakistanis will face critical shortages of water threatening their very survival.” And, how are we preparing for that eventuality? Well, we have four Agosta 90B and three Agosta 70 class submarines. To be certain, an Agosta 90B has a crew of 36 plus five officers, so in effect 164 of our brother Pakistanis will be safe.

According to Gallup Pakistan, “Sixty-six percent of a national sample of respondents from the rural and urban areas of all four provinces say they have lately faced difficulties in obtaining atta (flour) for their daily food consumption.” What do we do? We go out and buy six AN/TPS-77 surveillance radars for a cool $100 million.

Roti or killing machines? The story doesn’t end at $4.55 billion going into the U.S. treasury. Now we are looking at buying Class 214 submarines from Germany’s Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft, or is it France’s Direction des Constructions Navales Services. Our new big-ticket idea will cost us Euro1.2 billion.

Roti or killing machines? Imagine; the Islamic Republic routinely submerges into absolute darkness of the Dark Ages while our Muslim leaders contemplate buying ultramodern Class 214 submarines featuring air-independent propulsion using polymer electrolyte module hydrogen fuel cells. Imagine; no roti, no pani, no bijli–and no justice. But, proud to be the 11th largest arms importer on the face of the planet.

The writer is an Islamabad-based freelance columnist. Email:
Source: The News, 4/5/2008

 Posted by at 7:56 am

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