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31/03/2007
OUR TODAYS AND YOUR TOMORROWS (Part 2)
Speech at the SEEDS OF PEACE Speaker series, Ambassador Hotel, Lahore, 31 March 2007]
[CONTD./ 1]

Our present population is about 160 million. If you behave ourselves, by the time you are in your 30s (i.e. in the year 2020), our population will be 220 million. If you do not, and you maintain the presently unsustainable pace of population growth, you can have up to 100 million more neighbours crowded in the same mohallah we call Pakistan. Each year, we are increasing our population by the size of Sialkot and Faisalabad.
All of you are enrolled in good schools, otherwise you would not be here this afternoon. Let me tell you of those who could not make it.
In 2004, 19 million children were enrolled in Public (i.e. Govt. run schools). But what startled me was to realize that apart from this 19 million, there were another 14 million who did not enroll. No wonder the number of illiterates that we have today exceeds the total population of our country in 1951 (and that includes both east and West Pakistan.)
You should also know the level of Dropouts. 45 % drop out at the Primary level. 30 % drop out during the Middle level. And out of those who make it to the Secondary level, 28% dropout, and during the Intermediate or HSC level another 38% drop out.
So, in effect, out of a potential school going population of 32 million, 14 million never go school, and 8 million out of the 19 million who do drop out before their HSC.
53,000 public schools have no boundary wall, another 50,000 schools have no drinking water, 82,000 have no electricity, 57,000 have no latrines, and almost 10,000 have no buildings.
Houses one can live without, lavatories one can improvise, in lieu of electricity one can always use hand fans, but what does one drink instead of water?
The Water Comfort level in any country is the Water Availability per Capita, measured in cubic meters of water. A Water Short country should have 1,700 m3 per capita. The lower level – a Water Scarce country – should have at least 1,300 m3.
Today, in 2006, we here in Pakistan are at 1,100 m3, and it is projected by WAPDA that by 2025, the figure will drop even further to 858 m3. And just in case any of you think that bottled water is the answer, forget it. There will not be enough water left to bottle and to feed agriculture. The good news is that your gwala will give you purer milk because there will no water to add.
How many of you came here by a car or by motorcycle? Well, if you think traffic congestion today is bad, let me warn you that over the next 20 years, your traffic will increase from 5 times, from 0.8 million vehicles to 4 million. Will be have the roads and the requisite parking?
I could go on and on, but my purpose of sharing these figures with you is not to burden you, but to enlighten you to certain inescapable truths. If we are not careful, they may transform into inevitabilities.
The figures I have given you are of Your Tomorrow. If I am still around in the year 2020, they will also be mine, but I will be too old to do anything about them. I am almost too old to do anything about them now, except to scream into the wind in the hope that someone else hears.

I was born before 1947, and therefore Pakistan is like a younger brother to me. I feel towards it what any brother would – protective, supportive and occasionally critical. That does not mean I do not love it. I love my country not simply for what it is, but despite what it is.

 

Look beyond today and you will see that we have an enormous potential. We are a nation of 160 million talented and hardworking persons, but all of them individuals. Just as our cricket team consists of eleven very talented, brilliant sportsmen, but all of them incapable of functioning as a team.
Someone once asked the British Prime Minister Mr John Major what his policy was on Northern Ireland. He replied: We can do one of three things. We stay where we are, which is not really a policy. Or we can go back, which I will not do. In which case, the only way left is forward.
You will have read in the papers recently that now, the two warring factions of the Catholics and the Protestants – after almost half a century of bloodshed - are sitting at the same table and negotiating a power-sharing formula. Is it really so difficult for our leaders to follow their example?
Whether they want to or not, they have to, because they owe it to your generation. Just as we do, at whatever level we may happen to be in shaping the pattern of things to come.
As many of have been or will be going to the Seeds of Peace camp at Maine, I would like to conclude on a remark made an American President, Franklin D. Roosevelt. He said, and I quote: ‘We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.’
I hope that whatever I have said this afternoon contributes in some small way in helping you build your own future. I am sure that you will make better teachers for the next generation that follows you than we were for you.
 
31 March 2007
 
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