Hungry | Farrukh Saleem

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On October 20, Bloomberg, the financial data and media company, declared the Pakistan Stock Exchange to be “Asia’s best-performing equity market”. On October 18, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif mistakenly claimed that his government had brought down the price of potatoes from Rs80 a kilo in 2013 to Rs25 a kilo.

On October 15, Minister for Finance Senator Ishaq Dar “congratulated Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the nation as the foreign exchange reserves of the country reached the historic high of $24.5 billion.”

On October 12, the 2016 Global Hunger Index (GHI) was published by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), an international agriculture research centre. The 2016 GHI measures ‘hunger’ in 118 developing countries (based on four component indicators).

As per the 2016 GHI, Pakistan is among the eleven worst performing countries. With Pakistan at number 11 from the bottom, the other countries in our group are: Central African Republic, Chad, Zambia, Haiti, Madagascar, Yemen, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Timor and Niger.

Hunger is “usually understood to refer to the distress associated with lack of food.” The GHI attempts to capture ‘food deprivation’ based on four component indictors – undernourishment, child stunting, child wasting and child mortality.

Here’s how ‘hungry’ Pakistanis really are. According to the International Food Policy Research Institute, 22 percent of Pakistan’s population is undernourished (defined as “inadequate intake of food in terms of either quantity or quality”). That’s 43 million ‘hungry’ Pakistanis.

Here’s how ‘hungry’ Pakistanis really are. Forty-five percent of Pakistani children under the age of five have stunted growth. What that means is that 45 percent of Pakistani children have low height-for-age (in simpler terms, 45 percent of Pakistani children who are, say, four years of age have the height of a two or three year old).

Yes, there are 9.8 million stunted children in this country of ours (the world total for stunted children is 159 million). The only two countries on the face of the planet that have more stunted children are India and Nigeria. India has 48 million stunted children and Nigeria has 10 million.

Imagine; nearly 40 percent of all stunted children in the world live in Pakistan and India. The reasons behind stunted children are “poor feeding practices, and poor maternal nutrition”.

Here’s how ‘hungry’ Pakistanis really are. More than ten percent of Pakistani children who are under five years of age suffer from childhood wasting. What that means is that more than ten percent of Pakistani children have low weight-for-age (in simpler terms, more than ten percent of Pakistani children who are, say, four years of age have a weight of a two or three year old).

Here’s how ‘hungry’ Pakistanis really are. According to the latest State of Children in Pakistan report, “one in every fourteen Pakistani children (7.1 percent) die before their first birthday, and one in every eleven (9.1 percent) do not survive to their fight birthday.” Furthermore, “Pakistan has one of the highest rates of first day deaths and stillbirths at 40 per 1,000 births.”

Intriguingly, the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) and the Global Hunger Index (GHI) are correlated. What that means is that ‘corruption’ and ‘hunger’ occur together. What that means is that there is a high degree of relationship between ‘corruption’ and ‘hunger’.

Who said, “I’ve known what it is to be hungry, but I always went right to a restaurant?”