National Geographic : 1967 Jan
Pakistan: Problems of a Two-part Land The President towers more than six feet, with a complexion as fair as the British who taught him his soldier's trade (page 18). Strid ing from behind his massive desk, he tapped his finger on a globe. "We have fought a bitter war with India," he said, "the world's second largest nation, almost five times larger than Pakistan. Both nations must have peace. We must not fight to mutual exhaustion, for a terrible problem faces the whole subcontinent. Famine already threatens India...." The President strode back to his desk and Up for bids, fresh fish from the Arabian Sea sell at auction in the Karachi Coopera tive Fishing Society's market. Remnant of empire, Merewether Tower marks the junction of Bunder Road, left, and McLeod Road in Karachi. The tower honors Sir William Merewether, a former British chief commissioner. Once a small fishing port on the Arabian Sea, Karachi mushroomed after partition as Moslems from India swarmed into the city, the na tional capital until 1960. Rawalpindi now serves as the interim capital until comple tion of Islamabad (pages 20-21). leaned on it heavily, his face grave. "If we do not win our race to control our own popula tion, we shall be courting disaster." The President has reason for his concern. Pakistan packs into 365,529 square miles (excluding disputed Kashmir) one of the world's most crowded populations. Though government statisticians count a little more than 100 million Pakistanis, officials who must deal realistically with population prob lems peg the figure as high as 116 million. Since vast areas of West Pakistan are no more hospitable to human life than Cali fornia's Death Valley, the habitable portions are even more crowded than bare statistics indicate. And still the population grows at a frightening rate, already perhaps as high as 3 percent annually. If that growth rate is not checked, Pakistan's present population will have doubled by 1985. Chapatties Critical in Race With Hunger To get an expert's opinion on the Presi dent's fear of famine, I dined with an Ameri can population specialist. We met at the Hotel Farooq, whose restaurant is the Maxim's of Pakistan. The Pakistani cuisine had been a delightful surprise to me with its richness, va riety, and inventiveness, and I sopped up the fiery curry sauces with chapatties, flat wheels of unleavened bread tasting deliciously of whole wheat. "Lucky for you that you like the Pakistani bread," the research-foundation man said, "because you are going to eat plenty of it. In West Pakistan it forms the basis of every meal. In poor households, the chapatti is vir tually the whole meal, and any other food is spread thinly over the bread like butter. "That makes wheat the critical factor of the whole grim race with famine. Eventually the government's drive to control population growth will succeed, I am convinced, but that happy day is years off. If Pakistan can pro duce enough wheat to feed the growing popu lation before family planning takes hold, Pakistan can win the race. "And I have heard good news. At experi mental farms near Lyallpur, Pakistani agri cultural scientists are growing strains of Mex ican dwarf wheat that can double the pro duction of any field in a season. The wheat experts tell a story you'll want to hear." The journey toward Lyallpur led northeast through the Sind desert, which resembles New Mexico even to the roadside villages.