ISLAMABAD: Experts at a seminar held Tuesday claimed that 80 out of 131 (61 percent) districts in Pakistan were food-insecure in the pre-flood situation – the devastating floods that recently ravaged a large part of the country.
Executive Director, Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), Dr Abid Aqiyum Suleri, speaking at the seminar dubbed “The relationship between food insecurity, poverty, extremism and conflict” said in terms of population, 48.6% of the population is facing food insecurity. He also shed light on the key findings of recently launched “Food Insecurity Report 2009” jointly published by WFP, SDPI and SDC, said that the results showed that food insecurity at the household, district, provinces and country levels has become more severe as compared to 2003 — particularly after the recent floods in the country.
He said there is interconnectedness between individual, national, regional and global security. He said that poverty and hunger is a growing security concern, as there exists a strong linkage between food security, hunger, poverty, and vulnerability to disasters. He underlined the need that the citizens should challenge the fundamental paradigm of state which was focusing more on non-development expenditures such as debt-servicing, defense, day to day administration and very little was left for development and people.
“Lack of investment on individuals and their social development among major reasons behind extremism and terrorism in Pakistan,” he added.
Moeed Yusuf of the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), while giving opening remarks, stressed the need to learn from experiences of other countries, which improved their internal management and resolved internal conflicts and subsequently developed without needlessly relying on foreign countries to help them to progress.
“Corruption has become a norm in Pakistan and without individual self-accountability it is impossible to develop a balanced society in Pakistan,” he added.
Faisal Nadeem Gorchani, Head of Policy Advocacy and Outreach, SDPI gave an overview of human development situation in western part of district Rajanpur particularly of Union Councils Tribal Area Mat Kund, Tibi Lundan, Harrand and Wah Lishari which present poor human development indicators, abysmal socio-economic conditions, and appalling development scene with majority of population suffering with poverty, illiteracy, malnourishment and unemployment. “People affected by hill torrents have a growing sense of resentment that they have been either ignored altogether or inappropriately taken care of, given the extent and scale of destruction in these areas since the overwhelming focus of district administration, non-government organizations (NGOs) and media have been on the people and areas affected by the unprecedented devastation of Indus River,” he added.
Other experts also underlined the need for challenging the fundamental paradigm of state in the favor of public, provincial autonomy, and addressing the worsening crisis of governance.
During an interactive question-answer session the media persons and experts held a detailed discussions on issues such as social injustice, unequal distribution of resources, prevalent corruption, foreign interference, non-inclusive polices, lack of social safety nets, vested interests, lack of public participation and ground realities in policies, sense of fear, lack of check and balance system, changing social values into corporate values, denial of provincial autonomy and right of provinces over their resources, lack of judicious utilisation of resources, lack of water reservoirs creating energy shortages, unemployment, dual polices and foreign interference into Pakistan’s internal affairs, feudalism, vacuum of visionary leadership, absence of long-term policies, absence of rule of law and many other complex challenges to peoples’ real economic and political empowerment in Pakistan