Day: August 14, 2007

Happy Independence day, Pakistan

Pakistan turns 60 today, and this article provides good perspective

The poor neighbour | The Guardian | Guardian Unlimited

Amid all the hoopla surrounding the 60th anniversary of Indian independence, almost nothing has been heard from Pakistan, which turns 60 today. Nothing, that is, if you discount the low rumble of suicide bombings, the noise of automatic weapons storming the Red Mosque and the creak of slowly collapsing dictatorships.

In the world’s media, never has the contrast between the two countries appeared so stark: one is widely perceived as the next great superpower; the other written off as a failed state, a world centre of Islamic radicalism, the hiding place of Osama bin Laden and the only US ally that Washington appears ready to bomb.

On the ground, of course, the reality is different and first-time visitors to Pakistan are almost always surprised by the country’s visible prosperity. There is far less poverty on show in Pakistan than in India, fewer beggars, and much less desperation. In many ways the infrastructure of Pakistan is much more advanced: there are better roads and airports, and more reliable electricity. Middle-class Pakistani houses are often bigger and better appointed than their equivalents in India.

The first three paragraphs nail it. Pakistan is home to a burgeoning and prosperous middle class, but I bet all the average American thinks of is Madrassas, Osama, veils and nukes. I am sure Pakistan has all of them 🙂 However, there’s much more!

Happy I. Day, Pakistan, don’t forget, India’s up next on the 15th of August!

The real terrorist: Pollution

It is true. A staggering number of people die every year due to lack of access to clean water, air or food. Aggregate statistics like these are a good way to summarize the humongous nature of the problem. While reams and reams of coverage and attention are focused on “terrorists”, people all around the world die of much more mundane causes such as bacteria in water, smog, poverty, starvation, malnourishment, etc.

ScienceDaily: Pollution Causes 40 Percent Of Deaths Worldwide, Study Finds

About 40 percent of deaths worldwide are caused by water, air and soil pollution, concludes a Cornell researcher. Such environmental degradation, coupled with the growth in world population, are major causes behind the rapid increase in human diseases, which the World Health Organization has recently reported. Both factors contribute to the malnourishment and disease susceptibility of 3.7 billion people, he says.