Food crisis adds to Pakistan-Afghanistan tensions

June 5, 2008

April photo of man at Kabul flour marketIt would be hard to think of a more complex web of problems.  Pakistan and Afghanistan face, in very different ways, severe domestic political crises which are being exacerbated by soaring prices and food shortages. Both blame each other for failing to crack down on the Taliban and al Qaeda. And now tensions are rising over attempts by Pakistan, the traditional supplier of food to Afghanistan, to curb its wheat exports to make sure it can feed its own hungry population.

For an idea of how significant this is in Afghanistan, it’s worth reading this piece in the Chicago Tribune. “Western officials – including officers with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force – say the food crisis is potentially more destabilizing to the U.S.-backed government of President Hamid Karzai than the insurgency itself,” it says.

The website Registan.net followed this up by saying that the food crisis will drive more people into the arms of the Taliban. “Hungry, disenfranchised people are angry people,” it says. ”… every time someone can’t afford to buy bread for his family, he’ll have one more reason to … blow up some Humvees.

The World Food Programme says that emergency food aid meant to help 2.55 million Afghans affected by soaring food prices has reached only about 38 percent of the targeted population, according to IRIN, largely due to curbs on Pakistani food exports.

“One of the main reasons why food aid has not yet reached even half the targeted communities is procurement and logistical hurdles,” IRIN reports. “Initially it was decided that wheat and other food items would be procured from markets in neighbouring countries, especially Pakistan, which traditionally supplies Afghan food markets. However, rising prices have prompted Pakistani authorities to impose a strict ban on food exports, hitting WFP’s operation in Afghanistan.” 

Yet look at it from Pakistan’s point of view. It has a shaky coalition government which will become all the more vulnerable if it doesn’t make sure its people have enough food to eat. For all its interference in Afghanistan, it has also felt the burden of supporting three million Afghan refugees. 

File photo of girl in Lahore/Jerry Lampen“The priority must be on feeding the people of Pakistan, not excluding the three million Afghan refugees who still enjoy our hospitality, Hamid Karzai and company’s ingratitude notwithstanding,” wrote Ikram Seghal in The News last month. “Find me another nation in the world having so many refugees.”

Can someone see a way out of this morass? Or are Pakistan and Afghanistan condemned to stumble from crisis to crisis until historians write, with 20/20 hindsight, that whatever happens next was inevitable?  

6 comments

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[...] Food crisis adds to Pakistan-Afghanistan tensions Posted on June 6, 2008 by balkan Here. [...]

The underlining common problem that makes life hard for so many people all over the world is constant instability perpetuated by war. When countries are invaded by super powers, communities get uprooted. People become refugees in their own country, other cross the border to neighboring countries to escape for their life. The ones left behind are under constant fear that they do not plan for the future.

Until this capitalistic urge to invade and occupy countries by the western world, for greed and nothing but greed, is curtailed and permanently stopped, the world we live in today will continue to get worse until life as we know comes to an end. Billions of people have no food to eat, yet Billions of dollars are spent everyday to make weapons to kill other human beings. Billions do not have enough to eat, few thousands have Billions of dollars to their name. Millions are suffering and dying of hunger and disease, few are plundering the earth just for their own ego. We no longer live in a world where the haves care for the have-nots.
We are all going to be doomed at the end, money and wealth will save no one from dying, it only extends the suffering. Whether poor or rich, none of us is leaving this world with money.

Posted by Theo | Report as abusive

It is a shame that Pakistan now feel the Afghan refugees are a burden on its shoulders. It was Pakistan who forced Afghans to flee their country to gain dollars from USA for America’s jihad against the Soviets. The Pakistanis then were as hungry as Afrikan tribes but they sold Afghan blood in tonnes to America to get dollars, destroyed their country, their assets and now they, without feeling any shame, say that Afghans are a burden on Pakistan’s shoulders.

Who had advised Pakistan’s corrupt generals to fight against Soviets in Afghanistan? Because they had their own interests. Pakistan and USA are responsible for all atrocities of Afghans because these two countries destroyed Afghanistan to fight the Soviets and forced Afghans to leave their country.

Personally, is it not correction from providence, what ever name each uses to explain GOD, those who prefer to grow drugs, over food, deserves,to beg the wheat growing brothers is it not strange that all the Islamic nations are suffering from natural and national calamities. Brothers kill brothers at the behest of unfit leaders be they political, or religious. Why? Some where it’s in their holy books as also the Hindus that when God wants destroy selected humans. empires, he does not need human help. He gives the selected one wrong ideas. They self abort with or without belts! So it is the duty of the one who has been pricked to remove thorn by himself. If you are unhappy with Holland, or France, why you live there to eke out a living, leave the place, and ask the mullah to feed you wheat bread ! This time we must stand back
and watch the results of seeding with thorns where wheat should be growing. Help the children and the old !

Posted by Sathyam | Report as abusive

AbdulHadi Hairan
Your opinion that Pakistan took Dollars from America and now we feel Afghans are a burden. This is how grateful some people are, it was a token of brotherhood that we Pakistanis sheltered Afghan refugees. Afghanistan under Soviet invasion was worst off. Luck, that came to an end and also never has Pakistan sold anything for the sake of US Dollars, not Afghan soverignity at least. Pakistan has always tried to help stabilize Afghanistan being a brotherly Muslim country. Pakistan’s intentions towards Afghanistan have always been good. It is a pity that some ungrateful people have such thoughts about Pakistan.
As with the food shortages, it is all over the world. Food prices have generally gone up recently. I hope it will come right surely.

Posted by Umair Malik | Report as abusive

Sathyam, you’re blind right? Didn’t China have a earthquake recently? They’re not muslim. What about Burma? they’re not muslim either. And food prices are rising all over the world, even india is having a wheat shortage, and they’re not islamic. Thailand is having a rice shortage, and they’re not islamic. Are you seen a pattern? It’s your stupidity.

Posted by JohnG | Report as abusive

[...] the global food crisis is threatening to leave more than 1 billion hungry, and causing turmoil from Pakistan to American grocery stores. A U.N. summit of world leaders has pledged to push down food prices, [...]

This is how it was all going to end. Islamic teaching tells of world hunger and water shortages before the end times. It’s very near now. May Allah (SWT) help us and feed the poor. Ameen

Posted by Sanya | Report as abusive