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‘Waging Twitter wars drowns out development goals’

ISLAMABAD: There is great potential for both Pakistan and India to cooperate in areas of environment and climate change, but the cause is lost amid drums of war banging on Twitter.

This was stated by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Farhatullah Babar while addressing a seminar on sustainable development goals (SDGs) organised by Shaheed Bhutto Foundation at the SZABIST auditorium on Tuesday.

“Pakistan is ranked too high on the population index and too low on human development index,” the senator said.

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He added that the entire nation’s attention was riveted on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s speech on Kashmir at the United Nations and on fighting and winning nuclear wars on social media.

“We failed to take notice of the UNICEF [report] which indicated the state of social development in Pakistan,” Babar said.

He pointed out that UNICEF ranks Pakistan third highest in the number of stunted children under the age of five while 10 million Pakistani children, or over 44 per cent of its child population, suffers from malnutrition and stunting.

The senator said Pakistan has no alternative but to plan to achieve the targets set in UN’s SDGs to avoid imploding under the weight of an exploding population, climate change, environmental degradation and steeply falling health and education standards.

“Pakistan, is among the top 10 countries most threatened by climate change, yet the subject is not on the radar of the Parliament, the government and the political parties,” he warned.

The lawmaker added that the UNICEF report placed Pakistan at 149th amongst the 188 countries in its first global assessment of progress towards the health-related SDGs. He said not only 25 million children were out of school but nearly half of those in schools are still illiterate.

“He [Nawaz] said that the Kashmir cause was solid and genuine and it should not be difficult to dispel the impression created by our adversaries that it was an issue of cross-border terrorism.

However to dispel this perception we must also remove hurdles in the way of prosecuting the Mumbai terror attack accused and also cooperate with investigations in the Pathankot attack,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 28th, 2016.

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