Rawalpindi: Pakistan being one of the high-fertility countries with a large proportion of young adults and children had a population of 33 million in 1950 and its rank was 14th in the world but today, its population has reached around 210 million making Pakistan 6th most populous country of the world, after China, India, USA, Indonesia, Brazil, and surpassed Japan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, South Korea, Russia etc.
In terms of land area Pakistan is 34th and shares 0.6% 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%. Each family in Pakistan on average has 3.1 children.
Pakistan is facing a formidable challenge of tackling the issues of economic development and poverty reduction. There are numerous threats to Pakistan including military threat from neighbouring enemy country like India, the economic threat through rising international debt liabilities, drug addiction, ideological threats, provincialism, sectarianism, terrorism, corruption, political instability, disturbed political conditions, heightened security concerns, unstable law and order situation, soaring oil, food and other commodity prices etc., but the real threat to peace and development of Pakistan is the growing problem of “Pakistan Explosion” along with its serious and grave consequences, said Professor of Community Medicine Dr. Muhammad Ashraf Chaudhry while talking to ‘The News’ in connection with World Population Day, which is observed every year on July 11 around the globe.
If the population of the country continues to grow with the same rate (1.90%), it is likely to double in next 37 years, making Pakistan 3rd most populous country of the world; whereas land area will remain the same rather will be reduced due to residential plans, he said.
Major factors responsible for high population growth in Pakistan are high fertility, low contraceptive prevalence rate, high unmet need of family planning, declining mortality, custom of early marriages, son preference, poverty, illiteracy especially of women and lack of women empowerment, religious constraints, beliefs, customs, traditions and lack of recreational activities.
Failure of proper implementation of government’s population planning policies is the major cause of population growth as our contraceptive prevalence rate instead of increasing is decreasing and at present it is 30%, said Professor Ashraf.
Another reason is that government did not have a monitoring system in place to regulate health centres or keep records of the population growth despite the fact that population welfare programme of Pakistan is one of the oldest in the world but it has not yielded the kind of progress as compared to other countries like Bangladesh and Indonesia, he said.
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.
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, said Professor Ashraf. He added the concerned government authorities should work in the right direction to minimise the effects of population explosion in the country.