Pakistan is quite likely to be the single most difficult item in [the] new president’s inbox.
--Richard Haass, President
Council on Foreign Relations
The U.S. had hoped Benazir Bhutto’s return to Pakistan and her installation as prime minister following next month’s parliamentary elections would have stabilized an anti-extremist, pro-Western government in that important country. Her assassination threatens to make Pakistan instead the world’s potentially most frightening nuclear power. The nation has over 33 million males under 15, most of them poor, many headed for unemployment.
Pakistan itself, with 165 million, is the world’s sixth largest nation, though eighth in our population ranking, because we count the European Union as two countries of equally large size. Pakistan and six other large nations just outside our Big 8 make up the “Next 7”. Collectively, the “Next 7” have 13% of the world’s people, 7% of its wealth and, because the grouping includes oil-rich Iran and Canada, 28% of world petroleum reserves.
None of our “Next 7” are European Union countries, because the EU—all of it—is represented by its two Big 8 representatives. By contrast, two term members of the current 15-member Security Council are EU nations (Belgium and Italy).
Adding the Next 7 to the Big 8 gives us a Top 15 that accounts for 70% of the world’s people, 4/5ths of its wealth, and nearly 2/5ths of its oil. The Top 15 together represent Asia (5 nations), Europe (3), North America (2), Latin America (2), the Middle East (2), and Africa (1).
If we care about people—population—not flags, we should create and support this Top 15, which if it worked together, could truly benefit the world’s masses.