(October 18, 2019)
President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum (PBIF), President All Karachi Industrial Alliance (AKIA), Senior Vice Chairman of the Businessmen Panel of FPCCI and former provincial minister, Mian Zahid Hussain on Friday expressed deep concern over increasing hunger in the country. The government should take immediate step to arrest malnutrition otherwise it can result in heavy political and economic price, he said.
Mian Zahid Hussain also called for legislation ensuring that food security is the basic right of every person in the country so that we don’t have a weak and unfit generation.
Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said that Pakistan is an agricultural country but hunger has become a problem because of the price of necessary food items. UNICEF has recently said that half of the children are facing hunger which has an impact on their physical and mental development.
The former minister noted that Pakistan is among the seven countries where a large number of children are facing hunger, child mortality is rampant while a large number of women die during pregnancy.
He said that hunger can be controlled by provision of economic opportunities, proper distribution of wealth, reduced prices of agricultural items and giving surplus production to the needy. Pakistan ranks 106th among 119 countries on the hunger index while India is three notches up, he said, adding that many countries have conducted studies on the idea of soup kitchens and found it unfeasible to combat hunger in the long run.
Langars are a temporary relief for the poorest while many avoid going there for food despite the need for reasons like respect and honor. He noted that undernourishment can be challenged with vocational education, provision of jobs, and other economic interventions.
Mian Zahid Hussain said that Brazil initiated a programme in 2003 and pulled 20 million people out of poverty which must be studied by our policymakers.