THE United Nations Children's Fund has come up with some arresting statistics on infant mortality in Pakistan through its Regional Director Daniel Toole, who said while addressing a press conference in Islamabad that 500 children die in Pakistan every day before reaching their first birthday. He had earlier been in the NWFP and FATA to talk to officials and people about the situation of women and children in Pakistan. The facts alone are so alarming that they put into doubt all the results of development so far. Mr Toole mentioned that women in Pakistan were only 36 percent literate, and there was also a shortage of female teachers and health workers, which led to a high mortality of the new-born, with 60 percent not making it to their second year of life, because of a shortage of lady health workers as well as complications after delivery. Pakistan may have a population problem, but this is no solution. These children have the same right to life as any other, more fortunate, children. Once born, they deserve the same access to life, which means they must be given the same access to health care, as children who have a normal rate of infant mortality, because of better access to health care, more educated mothers, and so on. Mr Toole noted that Pakistan had made some progress on education enrolment and child mortality, but had serious issues about maternal mortality. Mr Toole also pointed out that these were the women and children most affected by the world food crisis, and it does not require a major leap to see these as the most immediate affectees of the increase in poverty over which the military regime presided. His suggestion for an increase in the allocation for women and children in the coming budget should be taken up, and this area of national life given the deep consideration it requires. If the Pakistani mother or child is suffering, then since that is where the national future lies, it is essential to alleviate, indeed eliminate, their suffering.