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Pakistan’s population explosion calls for sober policy making

Population growth rate in Pakistan is extremely high due to high fertility rate with a large proportion of young adults and children. Pakistan had a population of 33 million in 1950 and ranked 14th in the world but its population has reached around 210 million now making Pakistan 6th most populous country of the world, after China, India, USA, Indonesia, Brazil, and surpassed Japan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, South Korea, Russia etc.

Pakistan’s population is still growing at an alarming rate which projected to exceed 300 million by 2050, according to reports. It is need to be seriously addressed why fertility rates are so important for developing countries such as Pakistan and how it is to deal with rapid population, which hindering development.

Pakistan’s population growth rate is at an amazing 2.4 percent. It is at least double of other regional countries like India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. After separation Bangladesh’s population was close to 67 million compared to Pakistan’s 60 million.

Currently Pakistan is at over 200 million and formerly East Pakistan is at 164 million. Various governments have neglected this significant issue. The opposition parties of the past and present have not also bothered to highlight in their election campaign.

Social and religious taboos have become unnecessarily impossible. Pakistan is the only Muslim majority country in the world with a population explosion problem. Iran and Bangladesh managed to keep happy their most conservative ultra-right religious factions by including them in the process and providing incentives to get the job done.

In terms of land area Pakistan is 34th and shares 0.6 percent of the world area and in terms of Human Development Index, it has 147th position in the world. Out of these countries, Pakistan has the highest population growth rate at around 1.90 percent. Each family in Pakistan on average has 3.1 children.

Pakistan is facing a challenge of tackling the issues of economic development and poverty reduction. There are numerous threats to Pakistan including military threat from neighboring enemy country like India. There is the economic threat through rising international debt liabilities. There is the drug addiction, ideological threats, provincialism, sectarianism, terrorism, corruption and political instability. There is also disturbed political conditions, heightened security concerns, unstable law and order situation, soaring oil, food and other commodity prices etc.

The real menace to peace and economic development of Pakistan is the growing problem of ‘Pakistan explosion’ along with its serious and grave consequences.

Population likely to double in next 37 years

If the population of the country continues to grow with the same rate (1.90 percent), it is likely to double in next 37 years, making Pakistan 3rd most populous country of the world. It should be remembered that land area will remain the same rather will be reduced due to residential plans. The real factors responsible for high population growth in Pakistan are high fertility, low contraceptive prevalence rate, custom of early marriages, and son preference, and poverty, illiteracy especially of women and lack of recreational activities.

The major cause of population growth as our contraceptive prevalence rate instead of increasing is decreasing and at present it is 30 percent. The population welfare programme of our country has not yielded the kind of progress as compared to other countries like Bangladesh and Indonesia.

Pakistan will have to reduce its current population growth rate to half in the next 30 years to achieve the status of a high middle-income country.

Barrier to prosperous nation

The current pace of increase in population is a barrier to becoming a prosperous nation, said World Bank Country Director Patchamuthu Illango. Pakistan will remain a low-income country even after 30 years when it turns 100, if it does not control the exploding population bomb,” said Illango while speaking at a seminar, recently.

The recent population census revealed a number of 207.7 million. If we project that to 2047, then Pakistan’s population will be 400 million people, he added. If we project the economic growth rate of the last 70 years to next 30 years, then the GDP per capita of Pakistan could be the same as today, said Illango.

Pakistan’s per capita income is $1,629, which clubs it among low-income nations. Illango said that if Pakistan is able to contain its population growth rate to around 1 percent or below and the economy grows at a higher rate than 8 percent Pakistan’s GDP per capita will be around $10,000 in 2047.

At slightly over $12,000 per capita income, a country is treated as a high income nation. The World Bank official said that the next 10 years are critical to lay the foundation for a more prosperous economy when Pakistan turns 100 years old.

Pakistan’s economy was largely caused by an external trade situation. Adjustments are needed in the macroeconomic framework. There should be greater coordination between the federal and provincial governments on tax policy and their operations, he added. Illango said “If political consensus is reached among major political parties and other key stakeholders, then the direction of the economy will be on one sustainable path”.

 

World population day theme

This year the theme of World Population Day is, “Family Planning is a Human Right.” All individuals have a basic human right to determine freely and responsibly the number and timing of their children. At present, modern contraception remains out of reach for millions of women, men and young people.

Supreme order for Pakistanis

Recently, Supreme Court of Pakistan has expressed a serious concern over the high population growth in the country and has asked the government to form a uniform policy to defuse the population bomb.

Supreme Court has also asked the government to hold seminars, conduct research and study examples of other countries, which have tackled the population issue. The concerned government authorities should work in right direction to minimize the effects of population explosion in the country.

Globally population scenario

Globally, more than 7 billion humans are living on the earth and dilemma is that population is increasing every minute.

Some continents are loaded with human capital for example Asia is the most densely populated region. One third of the world population is living in this continent and China being the world’s most populous country, also situated in this continent. Its population is touching the limits of the carrying capacity. The population of humans is also increasing in other Asian countries except Armenia, Japan and Georgia.

On the other hand, most of the regions have negative population growth rate for example European countries like Spain, Ukraine, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, etc.

Currently in Pakistan the consumption of food rate is higher than the rate of production which results in a shortage of food supplies in Pakistan. The basic reason behind high population growth rate in many developing countries is lack of family planning resources, socioeconomic factors and safe birth control methods.

In Pakistan nearly one in every four a birth is unplanned. Many women in Pakistan have a high ratio of unmet needs; they don’t want to have a child or want to delay next child but cannot.

Solution to the population explosion in Pakistan

Active involvement of NGOs will definitely make the task easier by extending awareness and services in remote areas. The absence of coordination from the population welfare department has been recorded as a serious hurdle in their job.

Therefore, public and private sectors should join hands to increase the coverage area and improve services. Moreover, continuous promotional campaigns should be an integral part of the whole scheme that can easily be done by the NGOs and social media by targeting the specific audience, especially in remote areas.

In this way, Pakistan can achieve its commitment of FP 2020 and the Millennium Development Goal to control over this exploding population.

Malthusian theory (1798) of population

According to the Malthusian theory (1798) of population, in a series of 25 years intervals the food grows at a slow arithmetic ratio as 1,2,3,4 while the human population grows at a quick geometric ratio as 2, 4, 6, 8, and 16. In other words, population increases faster than food production.

At the end of the one hundred years, two third of the population will not be provided for food at all, while in two thousand years the results will be even more horrendous.

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