Editorials Health in South Asia

On the brink of conflict: the people of South Asia deserve better

BMJ 2017; 357 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.j1528 (Published 11 April 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;357:j1528
  1. Zulfiqar A Bhutta, director1 2,
  2. Samiran Nundy, dean3
  1. 1Center of Excellence in Women and Child Health,Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan
  2. 2Centre for Global Child Health, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada
  3. 3Ganga Ram Postgraduate Institute for Medical Education and Research, New Delhi, India
  1. Correspondence to: Z A Bhutta zulfiqar.bhutta{at}aku.edu

Countries must work together for enduring peace and wellbeing in the region

Nearly two decades ago, coinciding with overt nuclear tests conducted by Pakistan and India, we highlighted in The BMJ the huge risks of beginning a nuclear race in the subcontinent1 and its massive costs.2 Today, South Asia is once again at the brink of conflict, with massive deployment of armies on the borders between Pakistan and India. Insurgency and unrest affect major regions in Kashmir, Baluchistan, Assam, and the tribal and Maoist controlled areas in both India and Pakistan.3 Afghanistan has seen incessant conflict and suffering since the Soviet invasion in 1979. Nepal has emerged from decades of a debilitating Maoist insurgency, and Sri Lanka has just begun rebuilding the north after years of war and devastation.

Terrorism, which had been relatively rare, is now a daily threat affecting the lives and livelihoods of millions in South Asian states. Conflict, civic unrest, and insurgency have cost the region dearly. Despite continued economic growth and development, South Asia remains one of the poorest and most unequal regions of the world. Alarmingly, poor social …

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