Pakistan is a precarious place for babies. Especially those born into poor and very poor families. Back in February of this year, the children’s charity UNICEF identified this country as being the riskiest for newborns; in terms of neo-natal mortality rates. Yet the struggle for those fortunate enough to survive does not end there. For 80 percent will go on to suffer from a diet lacking in nutritional balance. This stark warning was issued by the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS). It puts those aged between six and 23 months as being the most vulnerable and also the most susceptible to stunted growth. While the ministry conducted the survey back in 2011, its findings have only been released this week. Which, given subsequent population increases, suggests that the situation for Pakistan’s children could potentially be even more dire. Tragically, the biggest barrier to a healthy and balanced diet is affordability not market availability. Simply put, the fundamental right to sustain oneself and one’s family is out of reach for the majority. Especially considering that, according to NHS findings, the annual cost of per household totals somewhere in the Rs104,000-171 300 range. Indeed, redressing this balance will not come cheap with an estimated Rs400 million needing to be spent each year on a district with a population of one million. If continued over a four-year period the percentage of children suffering from stunted growth can expect to drop by 15-20 percent. Given the country’s fragile economic situation, it is hard to see a way forward. But that is the job of government. There is a social contract between state and citizenry and every state has a duty of care towards its children. Though that being said, food insecurity is not restricted to the Global South. Britain is currently the world’s sixth largest economy and according to figures released this summer, four million adults are reliant on food banks. All of which underscores how it is the ordinary citizenry that is left to pick up the austerity tab when governments splash the cash on unnecessary wars. The same may be said of countries like Pakistan and India that appear to have inflated defence budgets when compared to those earmarked for health and education. Thus inequality of access to resources is a global problem. And it will remain so unless and until nation states understand that leaving vast swathes of populations to suffer from chronic hunger and malnutrition is not a political decision for them to make — but rather an absolute violation of fundamental human rights. State-sponsored terrorism by another name. * Published in Daily Times, September 15th 2018.