By Dr. Nayyer Ali

December 07, 2007

How About Some Good News?

Reading the morning headlines, one would easily get the impression that everything in the world is a mess, and it is only getting worse. This is understandable, as the news business is always obsessed with the unusual and the disastrous. “If it bleeds, it leads”, as they say in the television news industry. Or as one old newspaperman said, “Dog bites man is not a story. Man bites dog is a story.” But without knowing the big picture, it is hard to put into perspective the bloody events and terrible famines that populate the front page. Take the issue of violence, both murder and wars. In tribal societies, the death rate from violence was about .5% per year, or 1 out of every 200 people. But now the world is unbelievably peaceful compared to that standard. If we were still killing each other at that rate, 35 million people would be dying every year from wars and murders. In fact, the toll for murders worldwide is less than 400,000 per year, and in New York City this year it will hit a record low of under 500 people. The 20th century was incredibly bloody, but in the last 10 years we have brought major warfare to a halt over most of the globe. If we had another war that killed as much of the population now as the Second World War did 65 years ago, it would cost 140 million lives. Our current wars are nothing compared to what happened two generations ago. In fact, the only wars currently ongoing are civil wars. Iraq and Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, Sri Lanka, and the Congo round out pretty much all of the conflicts of any size. And even there, the death tolls are in the thousands, not millions. There is no current war between two nations, a remarkable state of affairs. Ten years ago, AIDS was going to ravage the entire world. But the latest data now shows that the epidemic had already peaked in 1998, at 3.5 million new infections per year. In 2006 new infections had fallen to about 2.5 million, and hopefully global public health measures will finally turn the tide on this disease. Meanwhile, polio is close to being totally eradicated from the Earth due to vaccinations, and childhood vaccination rates in the Third World are at record highs. Africa, which spent much of the 1980s and 1990s as a basket case, is finally starting to get off the mat. Over the last five years, economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa has averaged 6%. This is hardly earthshaking news for more successful nations, but for a region that had almost no per capita income growth for the previous 20 years, it is a substantial change. Famine, which was a regular part of life in the Third World for much of the last century, has now pretty much been ended. The only famines to occur in the last 15 years have been man-made, in Somalia and North Korea, and they affected relatively small nations. No large nation has had a famine in decades. Thirty years ago, the seers were fretting over the “population explosion”. There was a great sense of dread that many nations would be overwhelmed by rising populations that would swamp governments and economies. But this explosion failed to happen. In fact, the new worry is that many countries are having too few babies to simply maintain their current size. Even terrorism has been rather muted. After 9/11 there was tremendous anxiety that we had only seen the opening salvo in a long wave of attacks on the US and the West. In fact, 9/11 was a “lucky shot” by a small group of wackos who were rather easily rounded up. It was the overreaction to 9/11, particularly the invasion of Iraq, which has caused America so much extra grief. While Saddam was hanged, Osama Bin Laden remained free to taunt President Bush. Comments can reach me at


Deflating Japan

Bush’s Axis of Evil

Speaking to Non-Muslims

If Arafat Were Jinnah

The Shape of Things to Come

South Asia Expert Calls for Negotiations on Kashmir

Kashmir After the Cold War

Kashmir Quagmire: How It Started

Kashmir: Where We’ve Been

Make Way for the Euro

Will there Be a Muslim Palestine?

Careful, Careful

Our Growing Community

Pakistan’s Golden Opportunity

Musharraf’s Reform Plans

Pakistan’s Afghan Dilemma

Humanity on the Move

Strategies of America, Pakistan and Benazir

Winners and Losers

America’s Strategy Defang the Fundamentalists

The Noose Tightens

Pakistan in America

Musharraf’s Moment

A Sad Day for America, A Sad Day for Islam

Repeal the Blasphemy Law

Bush’s Stem Cell Compromise

The Depressing Stock Market

An Evening on Human Development

“Benazir” Takes Over in Indonesia

Race Riots in Britain

Global Warming or Just Hot Air?

Milosevic on Trial

Russia’s Collapse

Economic Recovery in Pakistan?

President Khatami’s Re-election

Lifting Sanctions on Pakistan

Israel’s Moral Burden

A Break in the Logjam?

The Second American Century

Pakistan’s Constitution

Dr. Lodhi in Los Angeles

Literacy: The Road Forward

Why Yusuf Can't Read

Literacy: The Glass is Half Full

Blowing Up Buddha

A Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Pakistan

Did You See the Moon?

Cornrows, Ali Khan, and Culture

Will the Children Go To Harvard?

Muslim Political Progress

Information Technology Gets A Boost

Sand and Oil

On Lieberman

Pakistan Builds A Tank

Kashmir in the Nuclear Age

Full Speed Ahead on Privatization

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Too Much Food

Watching the Election Why Are We Hollywood’s Villains?

A Tyrant Falls

Taliban Victorious

The Walking Whale of Pakistan
The Joy of Air Travel?

The Amazing American Economy
Arafat and Jerusalem

Names For The Children

Population: Too Many or Too Few?

It Does Matter

Aziz Goes For Growth

The Military Government's First Budget

L'Affaire Salam

End Sanctions on Iraq

Third World Democracy

Light Weapons Trade on the Rise

Iran Reforms

Back to the Future

The Saudis and OPEC Mature

How Can We Help Pakistan Develop?

Report Card on Musharraf

IMF Vs Pakistan

A Candid Discussion on Foreign Policy Issues

A Sad Tale of Missed Opportunities

Cold War In Kashmir

Whither Afghanistan?

National Security and Literacy

Pakistan Votes

The People Win

What is an Islamist?

Selling the Crown Jewels

Still Not Government

One Year After the Taliban

Benazir's Folly

Iraq and Oil

Saddam and Iraq - I

Saddam and Iraq - 2

Muslim Democracy

Zakat and Capitalism

Zakat and Capitalism - 2

The Economy Picks Up

The American Military: Power without Limit?

Good Foreign Policy is Good Anti-Terrorism Policy

The Arrest of Khalid Shaikh Mohammad

Bush Takes a Gamble

Bush Attacks

Besieging Baghdad

Darkness in Saddam's Bunker

Piccadilly It Aint Qissa Khani Is Still Qissa Kahani

Ed Asner and Afghanistan's Progress

Bush Delivers a Roadmap

Liberation or Imperialism

The Roadmap

Economic Rebound

Musharraf in Los Angeles

Economic Growth will lead to Democracy

Trapped by Myths and Fantasies

The Surge in Karachi Stocks

Bush's Busted Budget

America's Broken Healthcare

Time to Buy Stocks?

Islam, the State, and Human Rights

30 Years after the Oil Shock

The Future of Oil Wealth

Pakistan, India and Human Development

Pakistan's Eid Present

Iraq, Democracy and Islam

The End of Saddam Hussein

Three Wins for Pakistan

The Islamabad Declaration

Kerry's Big Wins

Repeal Hudood and Blasphemy

Bush's Growing Vulnerability

What Has Aziz Done?

Bits and Pieces

The Growth of India

Chaos in Iraq

Bush Caves in to Sharon

Abuse at Abu Ghraib

Too Harsh, Musharraf

The BJP Loses

What Do the Jihadis Want?

The Pak Economy: Bigger than We Think

Is America Richer than Europe?

Prime Minister Aziz

Unbundling WAPDA

Musharraf's Uniform

Chess Game in Kashmir

Three States, Three Debates

What's Wrong with the Democrats?

Can Elections Bring Peace to Iraq?

Elections in Iraq

Can Generals Yield to Democrats?

IMF Give Pakistan an “A”

Improve Higher Education in Pakistan

A Framework for Reconciliation

Iraq’s Elections By

Privatizing Power

Bullish in Karachi

Palestinians Should Abandon Suicide Bombings

The F-16’s

Bush’s Social Security Plan

Growth and Investment

Patronage Versus Policy

Aziz, the PML, and 2007

Are We Running out of Oil?

Purchasing Power

Economic Progress

Social Progress

PTCL and the Privatization Roller-coaster

Bombing in Britain

The Ummah is Not a Tribe

Is the US Oppressing the Muslims?

Is Iraq Dissolving?

Sharon Retreats

Pakistan and Israel

The Earthquake

The Other Earthquakes

The Battle for the Supreme Court

Pakistan’s Physician Exports

Beginning of the End in Palestine

Intelligent Design and Other Religious Beliefs

Shifting Populations in South Asia

Sharon’s Stroke

Building Dams

Hamas in Charge

Free Elections in 2007

Muslim Perspectives on Zionism

Iraq Falls Apart

Big Successes in Privatization

Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions

Global Warming

Dennis Ross on the Middle East

What Makes an Islamic State?

The Iraq War

Strong Growth, Falling Poverty

Buffett and His Billions

Why Peace Is Elusive in the Middle East

How Poor is Poor?

How Poor is Poor?
Pakistan’s Growth Moment

Declare a Palestinian State

The London Bomb Plot

Who Won the Lebanon War?

Iran, Israel, and the Bomb

The Pope’s Speech

Democrats Win!

The Republicans Lick Their Wounds

Finally, Some Enlightened Moderation

The Error in the War on Terror

Economic Challenges for Pakistan

Reshaping the Middle East - Part 1

Reshaping the Middle East - Part Two

The Surge to Defeat

Whither Palestinians?

Pakistan and Afghanistan

Blind to the Future?

Musharraf Goes Too Far

Letter from Lahore

Can Musharraf Escape His Own Trap?

Will Healthcare Swallow the Economy?

Israel’s Surprise Offer

The Economy Surges Again

Al Gore Should Run

Pakistan’s Arms Industry

Any Exit from Iraq?

Deal, No Deal, or Many Deals

Nawaz Comes and Goes

Will Musharraf Wriggle Through?

Can We Stop Global Warming?

Bush’s Sputtering “War on Terror” Loses Again

Mental Health at Guantanamo Bay

What a Mess!

Will Musharraf’s Errors Prove Fatal?

Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
© 2004 . All Rights Reserved.