THAT Pakistan is not the only country in the world that faces the spectre of hunger and, in fact, about a billion people in Asia alone are up against the worrying prospect, should not let the government adopt an attitude of helplessness. No doubt, there are factors beyond its control that are contributing towards this gloomy phenomenon. The changing weather pattern, resulting in long spells of drought in major food-growing countries like Australia; increased demand that comes with development (the sharp rise in the middle classes in China and India, for instance); the high cost of fertilizers; the rising use of crops for biofuels; and the phenomenal increase in the oil prices - all have combined to make the staple diets scarcer as well as costlier. But Pakistan is an agricultural country, and had the ill-founded decision to export wheat on the assumption that a surplus had been produced not been taken, things would have been different. Although enforcement of law has hardly ever been a strong point of Pakistani governments, one had hoped that this time round the authorities would put their foot down and foil the designs of hoarders and smugglers. Unfortunately, these unscrupulous elements were allowed to make hay at the cost of the man in the street. Now that the government claims that, with the help of recent imports, enough stocks of wheat are available in the country, it is imperative that the supply line remains uninterrupted and no one is allowed to indulge in the anti-social activity of smuggling or hoarding. Side by side, our economic managers must try to contain the mounting prices of the rest of the food chain to make the life of the common man easier.