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Australia & Pakistan at Arms…Over Sheep

A video depicting more than 20,000 Australian sheep being inhumanely slaughtered at a Pakistani port has started a row between the two otherwise friendly nations. Outrage within Australia has grown strong enough to compel Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard to hold talks with her Pakistani counterpart to discuss the incident. The Telegraph has the story:

“I did raise with the Prime Minister of Pakistan my concern about the graphic and very cruel images,” Ms Gillard said, after the leaders met in Laos.

“[I was] very strong in raising those concerns and very clear this is something that has distressed the Australian people.”

Ms Gillard said [Pakistani PM] Mr Ashraf had agreed to her request to investigate the cull.

The sheep slaughter was disturbing, and in a properly functioning world something like this would never happen. Nevertheless, the outraged Australian animal lovers who are raising a storm about this should also take some time to consider the deplorable condition of human beings in Pakistan. No education, few economic opportunities, scarce social justice, discrimination against women and girls, bonded laborers treated like slaves: These are just a handful of the problems that trump the plight of sheep in Pakistan.

It’s not just that people are more important than animals and that their suffering matters more (which it does); it’s also true that, if you want conditions for animals to improve, the place to start is with improving the lives of human beings. Democratic countries that are economically developed are much kinder to animals than poor, autocratic ones.

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