UN World Food Programme Country Rep Wolfgang Harbinger has said the number of malnourished has reached 45 million in Pakistan. Under UN millennium development goals Pakistan had to reduce the number from 26 million in early 90's to 13 million in 2015. But the country, he maintained, is moving in reverse direction. What do these statistics mean in real life? They indicate in the first instance that there are millions of Pakistanis who go to sleep with an empty stomach. A man make cuts on the basic food needs of his family only after he has forgone expenses on other vital requirements that include children's education, personal hygiene, and medication. To the worst hit people in this category this could lead to utter desperation forcing them to commit crimes or take recourse to suicide, the rate of both is in fact continuing to rise over the years. Malnutrition is in the main an outcome of poverty. Family incomes in Pakistan have not increased in line with the rising inflation. Sahib Haq, an official with the WFP's Vulnerability Analyis and Mapping Unit in Pak says food prices rose at least 35 pc in 2007 compared with 18 pc rise in minimum wages. "There is a big gap between the increase in prices and increase in wages... the purchasing power of the poor has gone down by almost 50 pc." Our policy makers have consigned nearly one third of the population to penury, premature deaths, unacceptably high mortality rate among expecting mothers and infants, and debilitating ailments and physical and mental retardation. The children are the worst sufferers on account of malnutrition. A report by the Pakistan Paedriatic Association should serve as an eye opener: "Almost 11.7 million children in the country are suffering from stunting (less 'height for age) and wasting (low weight for height). The situation is indicative of the dismal state of malnutrition and high prevalence of infectious diseases among the children. The stunting has been found in 40 per cent of the children (8.3 million) because of unhealthy environmental conditions, inadequate protein and calorie intake. This phenomena exists more in girls, particularly those living in rural areas, compared to boys. The 14 percent children (three million), who are suffering from wasting, reflect the seriousness of the problem. "The children suffering from wasting are at a greater risk of dying of infections. Both stunting and wasting have their roots in malnourishment", says the report. In Punjab, the most prosperous province of the country, five million malnourished children are born annually that constitutes 25 percent of all births in the province per year. The rural areas are the biggest sufferers. According to the official data, differences in nutritional status also exist along the urban-rural divide. Around 36 percent of the urban children are moderately underweight, whereas in rural areas this percentages is as high as 40 percent. In the urban areas, 11 percent children are severely underweight, while in rural areas this figure reaches 15 percent. Malnourishment in most cases starts from the mother's womb and it is during this time that it leaves permanent marks on the child's physical and mental make-up. Pregnant mothers require healthy food which they cannot get in malnourished and male dominated families where the best of whatever is available goes to the male family head who is also the bread earner. Mothers, we are told, who generally do not have access to health services, and do not get medical attention during pregnancy, are more prone to bearing malnourished children. A major factor behind inadequate medical facilities is the relatively small amount allocated for health in the budget. The maternal mortality rate in Pakistan is 500 deaths per 100,000 births, while it is highest within the country in Balochistan at 673. Around 48 percent of lactating mothers have a calorie intake of 70 percent less than the recommended level. Malnutrition causes iron deficiency of which 45 percent of Pakistani women suffer. This results in stillbirths, birth defects, mental retardation and infant deaths. Malnutrition stunts growth, intellectually and physically, and ultimately damages children's productivity as adults. There should be little surprise therefore that the areas in Pakistan where malnutrition is high are more prone to violent extremism. Further that the rise in the tendency has coincide with the expansion of poverty, increase in the number of people living below poverty line and overall vulnerability.