Pakistanis increasingly going hungry: Pakistani daily

An editorial in the Dawn Friday said: "It is shocking that the levels of malnutrition in Sindh have been likened to those prevailing in sub-Saharan Africa.  "A survey conducted by the provincial government and UNICEF found that in the aftermath of last summer's floods, the rate of malnutrition in northern Sindh is 23.1 percent and it is 21.2 percent in the south. This far exceeds the 15 percent emergency threshold set by the World Health Organisation."

It said the UNICEF has warned that hundreds of thousands of children were at risk and called the situation almost as critical as that in Chad and Niger. "These numbers highlight the frightening situation faced by the people whose lives were devastated by the floods."

Citing the World Food Programme estimates that about 600,000 people are still living in camps in Sindh and Balochistan, the editorial asked: "What has been done to address this situation?"

"The Pakistani state and society appear to have failed the flood-affected. Pakistanis are increasingly going hungry and it seems that little is being done to prevent the situation from getting worse." The daily bluntly said the hard fact is that it is not just the flood-affected that are stalked by hunger and malnutrition, the "problem is far bigger and of seemingly critical proportions".

"A combination of factors, including economic mismanagement and poor planning, have led to reduced purchasing power for much of the citizenry. Inflation and spiralling food prices have forced families to divert towards grocery budgets the funds that previously went on areas of expenditure such as children's education.

"In poorer sections of society hunger is a reality as more and more people slip below the poverty line. Malnutrition and food scarcity is an issue in the militancy-hit parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Fata and Balochistan, too, for war has similar effects in this regard as natural calamities," it said.

Exhorting the country's policymakers "to wake up to the realities of the situation", the editorial said: "Now is not the time for political point-scoring or expediency; lives are being lost while the government hesitates."

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