At the time of independence, the areas that now comprise Pakistan had a total population of about 35 million. The largest city was Lahore with an estimated four hundred thousand people.
The next largest, Karachi, was home to three hundred thousand souls. Since then the population has been growing at the rate of about three percent annually and has ballooned to 220 million today. At this rate, we are adding about seven million hungry, mostly hungry, and illiterate souls to this total every year.
In order to maintain just the existing standards, we will require additional food, water, housing, employment, health care, education, and other services every year for the equivalent of the entire population of Switzerland!
That is obviously not possible to sustain anymore. We are sliding backward in relative terms to the point where some of the countries in Africa are now overtaking us.
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This was not always the case. There was a time when Pakistan exported pharmaceuticals, automobile tires, and other manufactured goods to India. A UN report in 1966 predicted that if Pakistan maintained her existing rate of relative growth her economy would overtake that of Italy by 1981.
It remained a dream. Since then Italy’s economy has overtaken that of Russia. In any other country, people would be up in arms, knocking on the doors and making lives miserable for the rulers.
The intelligentsia will be spending sleepless nights wondering what went wrong. Above all, media pundits would be raising hell, warning when the looming disaster strikes all the guns, tanks, aircraft, submarines, marble palaces, golf courses and fleets of shining staff cars will not be able to save us from the Malthusian nightmare.
Is media failing us?
We know that politicians are mostly in it for themselves. The military has its own job cut out and must stick with it. Some of them may have different ideas but the experience of the past three military regimes is only memorable for the wrong reasons.
A country works well only when each arm of government remains and functions within its own specified area and limits of responsibility.
To keep the people informed and reminded of their rights, the government of its responsibilities, and the rest of us of our obligations is the responsibility of the media. So far they seem to have mostly involved themselves in self-serving issues.
What we are seeing and reading instead is about Nawaz Sharif, NAB’s activities, the tax case of Justice Faez Isa’s wife, Bashir Memon, IMF, FATF, General Bajwa, Jehangir Tareen, etc., etc. and very little of substance that is relevant to the security, prosperity, and future of the country as such.
There is no mention of the need for family planning, impending food shortages, the fact that from being the world’s largest exporter of cotton the country has now become its importer, the dwindling water supplies for agriculture, dismally poor education facilities not keeping pace with technology, industries closing down because of the high cost of production and allowing cheaper imports, shameful neglect of health facilities especially in the rural areas; the list goes on.
It can’t be that the journalists are not aware of what they are doing, so why do they persist in the line of action that only helps those who do not wish Pakistan well? Could it be that they a part of some conspiracy?
The writer is a retired naval officer and is the author of ‘Pakistan: Roots, Perspective and Genesis’ and Muslims and the West: A Muslim Perspective’. The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.