• 24 Mar - 30 Mar, 2018
  • Shahed Sadullah
  • London Eye

Much has been made in the Pakistani press and media over the report that puts Pakistanis as being more happy than those living in their immediate neighbourhood, most importantly, Indians. And while there is much justification for the satisfaction and devolved happiness expressed over that report, that is not where the good news ends.

There is a British company called MoveHub which specialises in helping people move around the world. Recently, it used data provided by a company called Numbeo which holds the world’s largest database of user contributed data about cities and countries worldwide to determine how expensive – or cheap – cities and countries are all over the world. MoveHub used the data to project the cheapest countries in the world which, by implication, would be the best countries to move to and where MoveHub would help you to move to if you were so inclined. It may be said here that the data available does not cover every single country in the world and there are quite a few from where it is difficult or even impossible to get all the required information. But the main countries are all covered and the good news is that the cheapest country in the world to live in and therefore arguably the most attractive in the world to move to is… Pakistan!

Among the ten cheapest countries in the world, Pakistan topped the list with a Cost of Living Index (CLI) of 25.08. Egypt was second with a CLI of 25.69, Ukraine third with a CLI of 25.98 while India was fourth with a CLI of 26.88. Tunisia, Kosovo, Georgia and Azerbaijan followed in that order and Bangladesh was the third South Asian country on the list with a CLI index of 31.99. Algeria was the tenth.

On the other hand, the most expensive countries to live in are Bermuda (CLI 144.88), Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, Bahamas, Luxembourg, Denmark, Singapore, Japan and Israel. Yours truly has some experience of Switzerland where a cup of coffee can cost a fortune and more frustratingly, taste like something scooped up from a drain even after paying all that money. And I visited Denmark twice, both times as part of a cricket team where, the first time around we virtually starved because restaurants were far too expensive, surviving on sandwiches and the second time went only after making sure that some members of the local cricketing fraternity would host meals for us!

Karachi is one of the cheapest large cities, according to this report with a CLI of 27.6, only very marginally more expensive than Kolkata (CLI 27.38) and Chennai (27.3); but most Indian cities are much more expensive, Mumbai having a CLI of 31.66 and Delhi higher than 33.

The index was based on the prices of a variety of things of every day usage, including food items like beef, chicken, bananas, oranges, tomatoes, potatoes, onions etc, as well as transport cost, cost of renting accommodation and cost of utilities like gas, electricity and water. Perhaps Pakistan would have achieved a CLI even lower than the one it came out with if the data assessors knew that in Pakistan, very few people actually pay for utilities!

Murder of A Russian Spy

Here in Britain, we have had another snow blizzard a few hours ago, in the third week of March! But the attention of the nation has been taken up with the attempted murder of a Russian spy double agent who was brought over to England after a spy exchange programme with Russia some eight years ago. It is said that he was hit by a nerve agent, of a type that used to be manufactured by Russia. Responding to that, the British government, supported almost fully by Parliament, in a fit or righteous anger sent the Russians an ultimatum to explain how this nerve agent came to be on the streets of Britain. The finger has been firmly pointed towards Russia and the foreign secretary has even gone on to point it at Vladimir Putin, the Russian President. Those of you who go back to the 1950s and 60s may remember a Peter Sellers movie called The Mouse That Roared! I mention that only in passing.

There is little to suggest that the British ultimatum sent the Russians quivering in their boots as they saw British gunboats approaching Sebastopol. The reason for that is that there were no gunboats heading that way, or indeed anywhere. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been roundly criticised by a gung-ho media for suggesting that it would be advisable to wait for the evidence first before charging anybody, as there are now reports emerging that Russia had indeed decommissioned all its chemical weapons, a process competed last year, although it is perhaps felt that they still have some hidden away in secret pockets. It is also likely that criminal gangs may have got hold of small amounts of these awful creations, although it is difficult to see anyone other than the Russian state having a grudge against Skripol, the man on whose life the attempt was made. He and his daughter both lie in hospital in a critical state.

The point in all this is again to highlight the very emotional nature of British politics, the reason why the country finds itself in the middle of the mess called Brexit. As the EU decides its response to British guidelines for Brexit, the mess looks like becoming murkier. Watch this space! •