World Food Day 2008: Soaring Prices and Hunger in Pakistan

Posted on October 15, 2008
Filed Under >Roshan Malik, Economy & Development, Education, Environment, Food
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Roshan Malik

About 38 percent children population below five years of age are either underweight or malnourished and around 36.2 percent people live below the poverty line in Pakistan. Primary enrolment of 5-9 years old children in Pakistan is the lowest in the region.

Fifty six percent of the people have access tap water while 42% have the luxury of using flush toilet. The emission of Carbon dioxide has doubled in the era between 1990-2004 causing more pollution and endangering sustainable development. All these figures haunt us as a nation, as a human being and as a part of modern world.

Pakistan like many developing countries has been facing food shortages. Food inflation soared beyond the control of government on one hand and food items went far beyond the access and affordability of common people. Despite the bumper wheat crop last year, Atta (flour) shortage in the country has proved that merely adequate production cannot ensure food security unless there is an effective and concrete distribution mechanism. Food shortage and price hike has ignited social unrest in the country but government’s response is more focused on complying the donors’ demands rather than looking into the problem holistically.

World Food Day (WFD), is observed on October 16 every year with a commitment to raise the awareness about the issues related to food and hunger. This day is observed in more than 150 countries and this year theme is World Food Security: the Challenges of Climate Change and Bioenergy. In Pakistan, Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MINFAL) observes WFD and minister delivers his inaugural speech (sipasnama) with a commitment of government to ensure food security and promote agriculture production in the country. It’s a platitude or token observation rather than a policy instrument.

President and prime minister have also given their usual messages on World Food Day 2008. But one hardly finds their rhetoric reflected in any government’s policy to make Pakistan a food secure country.

Infact the plight of the people living around us is miserable. Shakir Shujabadi, a famous Seraiki poet, highlights the miseries of poor people and prevailing social injustice in his poetry. I am his great admirer and earlier wanted to have a separate post on his profound poetry and his personal resilience to development delays. I adore his courage and audacity to overcome the miseries at personal level. His poetry is more powerful and convincing than writing a full article on World Food Day

I have tried to translate his poetry in Urdu which may be helpful for the readers.

Fikar da sijh ubhardh hai sochainday sham thee waindee
Fikar ka sooraj tuloo hota hai, sochte howay shaam ho jatee
Khayalaan day sakoon golainday aj kal shaam thee waindee
Khayalon main sakoon dhoondte howay shaam ho jatee
Unhaan day baal saaree raat ronday hin bokh tun sumday naheen
Un kay bachay saree raat rotay hain bhook say sotay naheen
Jinhaan de kayeen day bhalaan koon khidanday shaam thee waindee
Jin ki kisi kay bachon ko khilatay howay shaam ho jatee
Ghareeban dee dua yaa rab khabar naheen kin karainda hain
Ghareebon ki dua ya Rab khabar naheen kahah karta hai
Sada hanjoonaan dee tasbee ko phirainday shaam thee waindeeSada aansoo’n ki tasbeeh ko phertay howay shaam ho jatee
Kadaheen taan dukh we tal waisan kadaheen taan such day saa walsan
Kahbee tu dukh bhee tal jayayn gay, kabhee tu such kay saans lotayn gay
Pula khali khayalan day shaam thee waindee
Pulao khali khayalon kay pakatay sham ho jatee
Meda raaziq riyat kar namaazaan diyaan raat kar day
Mera Raziq riyat kar namazaain raat kee kar day
Jo roti shaam karainday shaam thee waindee
Jo roti sham ki kartay kartay shaam ho jatee
Main shakir bokh tha maryaa haan magar hatam tun ghat kain neee
Main shakir bhook ka maraa hon magar hatim say kam naheen
Kalam khairat hay maidee chalanday shaam thee waindeeKalam khairat hai meri chalatay shaam ho jateee

Aye Pakistan day logo paleedian koon muka dewo
Aye Pakistan kay logo paleedion ko khatam kar do
Naan taan aye jain we naan rakhay aye naan wala dewo
Warna jis nain yeh naam rakha hai, yeh naam us ko lota do
Jitha mukhlis namazee hin oh masjid we hai Baitullah
Jahan mukhlis namazee hain woh masjid bhee hai Baitullah
Jo mullah diyan dukanaan hin maseetan koon dahaa dewo
Jo molvion ki dukanain hain who masjidain bhee gira do
Utay insaf the parcham talay insaf wikda payey
Oper insaaf ka parcham, neechay insaaf bikta hai
Ihio jayeen har adaalat koon bamayay amla uda dewo
Aisee tamam adaalton ko bamaye amla uraa do
Parho rehman tha kalma bano shaitan day chailay
Parho rehman ka kalma bano shaitan kay chailay
Munafiq tun taan behtar hay jo kafir naan rakha dewo
Munafiq say tu behtar hai keh kafir naam rakhwa do
Jay such aakhan baghawat hai, baghawat naan hai shakir da
Jo such kehna baghawat hai, baghawat naam hai shakir ka
Charhao naizay tay sir bhanway, mayday khaimay jala dewo
Charhao naizay pe sar chahay mairay khaimay jala do


(2) Food and Agriculture Organization
(3) Human Development Report
(4) The News Daily

14 responses to “World Food Day 2008: Soaring Prices and Hunger in Pakistan”

  1. Ilmoamal says:

    Ilmoamal is helping the poor of Pakistan.

    Please visit: for your donations.

  2. readinglord says:


    You say:

    “Food shortage and price hike has ignited social unrest in the country but government

  3. readinglord says:

    First, I have some observations about the translation of Seraiki into Urdu as under:

    1. ‘thee waindee’ should be translated as ‘ho jati he’ in Urdu and not simply ‘ho jaati’.

    2.”Meda raaziq riyat kar namaazaan diyaan raat kar day
    Mera Raziq riyat kar namazaain raat kee kar day”

    The translation does not make any sense. Namaazen to raat ki bhi hoti hein, khaaskar tahajjad. The poet perhaps wants to get rid of the ‘namaz’ which is hindering his search for food but he does not dare to say it clearly. As the tradition goes even the prophet had wanted this but only shyness prevented him to request Allah for the same.

    What the poet has to say?

  4. Anwar says:

    Post highlights what has been known to many for years and actually these conditions have been predicted.
    The much touted land reform has yet to take place, land needs to be cultivated and for the past three decades water resources and management have become political footballs. Even the military rulers try to please the subdued political elite and entrenched interests.
    Other problem is the absence of institutions that can function in a coherent manner to formulate long term policies. Everything is treated on an ad hoc basis and therefore the responsibilities shift to the future ruler or become a blame on the past leadership.
    We are witnessing anarchy similar to Europe of early 1900s but we can learn from history to go for the better. Considering the external pressures, internal fissures, rapid urbanization, population growth, slums, hunger, deprivation, helplessness, and absence of hope and future, it is more than likely that these problems will grow to extremely unmanageable levels and eventual demise.
    Finally, hunger is not just a Pakistani problem – working with the local Food Banks for years I have come across cases of extreme hunger on regular basis. Many here find it hard to swallow the statistics of hunger in the US. It is not visible… Also, if the parents are hungry, kids do get a meal in local schools. But…

  5. Tina says:

    Population control must be a part of any poverty discussion. That, and female literacy/education, which also reduces the population.

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