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The News

Published Date: Jul 18, 2011

Telling statistics

Sometimes
statistics, generally regarded as dull columns of figures, tell stories that
are vital to solving the problems of our country. A new report by the Islamabad
based Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) has linked levels of food
insecurity with growing violence and conflict in various parts of the country.
The report notes that in Fata food insecurity stands at a soaring 67.7 percent.
In Balochistan it is 61.2 percent. We all know that levels of instability and
militancy are highest in these areas. Even in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa levels of food
insecurity at 56.2 percent seem to factor among the rising problems of the
province. This finding gives us an important clue as to how the situation can
be dealt with. It seems obvious that militancy can end only when the basic
needs of people are met.

What is also disturbing is the level of regional disparity in terms of food
insecurity in various parts of the country. In Islamabad, for example, only
23.6 percent of people lack sufficient food. Even this number is too high.
However, when compared with other regions, the discrepancy is striking. There
is no reason why there should be such sharp contrasts in standards of living
across the country, given that this breeds neglect and disillusionment among people,
which in turn lead them to take up arms or use other means to retaliate against
the state which has done so little for them. As the SDPI points out, this
should be a guiding point in the formulation of future policies so that we can
begin to address the issues which keep us embroiled in conflicts.