EXCERPTED FROM DAWN, KARACHI, 21 MAY 1998
We can only hope that this nuclear explosion does not start an intense arms race between India and Pakistan – not to speak of the reaction of China. Already, India and Pakistan together have spent USD 70 billion on defence during 1990-96 (compared to only USD 12 billion on education) and they have six times more soldiers than doctors. Basic social agendas await as arms accumulate.
India and Pakistan have now become the illiteracy capital of the world, with 330 million illiterate people and 45 million out-of-school children, nearly half of the world´s total. About 370 million people survive in absolute poverty, below an income of USD 1 a day. Over 200 million people have no access to basic health services, over 300 million lack safe drinking water, 740 million have not seen even elementary sewerage faciliies, and 70 million children are seriously malnourished.
The recently-published report on Human Development in South Asia 1998 (OUP) presents a shocking socio-economic profile of India and Pakistan which have now fallen behind even Sub-Saharan Africa in most human development indicators. Such a combination of desperate poverty with modern nuclear weapons is not only obscene, it can be extremely dangerous.