The arms trade between the West and the Middle East has been a long-standing factor in the relations between the two. Within the Middle Eastern region, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has risen as the largest arms importer, mainly relying on the US for weapons. The author, Rooha Javed, notes that between 2015 and 2020, the US pledged to sell weapons worth $64.1 billion to Riyadh. Moreover, despite the criticism of Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the war in Yemen, the US has continued the arms supply to the kingdom.
On 11th March, Ahsan Ramzan, a 16-year-old Pakistani, became the second-youngest individual to win the IBSF World Men Snooker Championship. The young Pakistani is set to participate in more championships and win more titles for himself and his country.
Pakistan’s close proximity to Afghanistan has caused it to become the perfect target for drug trafficking. Rooha Javed explains that Afghanistan – one of the largest producers of opium in the world – has taken advantage of Pakistan’s transit route to not only acquire precursor chemicals for drug manufacturing but also for smuggling illegal drugs to the international market. Though Pakistan has adopted measures to counter this illegal drug trade, the number of Pakistanis suffering from drug addiction and overdose is increasing every day.
In an effort to provide universal health coverage (UHC) across the country, Pakistan’s current government recently expanded the scope of the Sehat Sahulat Program. Rooha Javed explains how the initiative aims to provide health insurance to everyone – especially to families living below the poverty line. According to Prime Minister Imran Khan, the Sehat Card will now allow every family in Punjab, Islamabad, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan, Sindh, and Tharparkar to avail healthcare facilities up to Rs 1 million at the approved government and private hospitals.
The increasing cooperation between China and Iran is seen as a threat by the United States, and by Iran’s rival oil exporters. The Iran-China deal (signed in March 2021) will further consolidate these relations and ensure China’s involvement in the region for the next 25 years. The author, Rooha Javed, notes that as a part of this deal, China will invest in Iran’s infrastructure development, oil and petrochemical industry, and telecommunications. She asserts that the Iran-China partnership can already be seen in China’s inclination towards reviving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and its current infrastructure projects in Iran.
The drastic changes in climate have left millions of people vulnerable, causing them to migrate from their homelands in search of more stable environments. The effects of climate change have been particularly devastating for Afghanistan. Rooha Javed explains that droughts, earthquakes, and floods have become increasingly common in the state. In 2019 alone, 287,000 people, mainly from the western and northern regions of Afghanistan, had been displaced due to a drought.