A ticking bomb
POPULATION is the first essential element of a state. When it combines with territory, government and sovereignty, state completes.
Without population a piece of land cannot be called a state. But population in every state must be reasonable and relative to the resources.
It must not be so large that the resources of a state become short to feed its citizens. A large number of population creates climate issues, unemployment and it becomes difficult for the state to render its services in a more efficient way.
The developed nations of the world have set examples for the developing one that moderate number of population is now essential for the development of a country.
In contemporary era, those states which have more population, they are adopting different population control policies for the development of their nations. China is a worthy example.
Whereas in Pakistan the peril of over-population is growing rapidly. With every passing year population is increasing.
When Pakistan came into being, West Pakistan had population of 32 million and this number has now shot up to 220 million, which is an alarming figure. We are the sixth most populous country in the world with an intercensal growth of 2.4 per cent. Our population growth rate is the highest in South Asia.
Bangladesh was with us in this race but now due to child control policy they have controlled enough to coup with this appalling issue.
The situation in Pakistan is very menacing Water shortage, unemployment, education problems, climate issues are now very common. Currently, 4m youths aged between 15 and 24 years are unemployed; by 2022, this number is expected to rise to 10m.
What would happen to this huge pool of the unemployed?
Then comes water shortage issue, a simple calculation shows, total availability of water resources in Pakistan is currently estimated at around 178 billion cubic meters (BCM).
With our current population size, this translates into 860 cubic meters (m3) per capita, a level indicating scarcity.
At an annual growth rate of 2.1pc, our population will expand to 246m by 2025 and over 300m by 2035. Unless we improve our ability to store and conserve water, per capita water availability will fall to 730m3 in 2025 and 590m3 in 2035 respectively.
Furthermore, growing population is causing deforestation, the issue of climate change is becoming severer day by day.
According to Global Climate Risk Index, Pakistan has become the 5th most vulnerable country to climate change.
Moreover, the agricultural land is shrinking rapidly because of continuous expansion of cities and villages.
These non-traditional security threats have become the gravest threat to the state. The responsibility of this gruesome neglect mainly goes to our previous governments.
Our politicians remained busy in power struggle. No one paid heed to end these issue. The politics of personal interest, borrowed growth and opportunity brought the state to this condition.
Thus, these alarming issues are becoming more heinous because of continuous increasing population. There is a need of some immediate steps to stop this ticking bomb from exploding.
First of all education must be provided to all. It is a tool which strengthens the basis for the development of any nation and also play a crucial role to control the overpopulation. Bangladesh is an example which controlled the speed of birth rate through education.
Secondly our country is religious centric, government must made mandatory for the religious scholars to preach about the child birth control. They must add some words in the Friday sermons about the population control.
Thirdly contraceptive methods must be made popular in our society. Advertisements must be made regularly through every mean to end the shy of our society relating to contraceptives.
Fourthly government must start minimum child policy and should provide some incentive to parents who have minimum children in the form of some money, and free education for children till graduation.
Those who are jobholders and have minimum children the government should provide some premium on their salaries. This would attract others to follow the suit.
Fifthly, in every school every teacher must deliver lectures to his or her students on population control and its benefits.
Lastly, women must be empowered. When they would be empowered, they would have some say relating to their will to become pregnant or not.
They must be educated about contraceptives measures and their access must be made easy to pregnancy control measure.
Though overpopulation has grievous consequence for any society and in Pakistan it can be considered a one of major hurdles to its development. But it can be controlled through aforesaid measure.
Tom Paine inspired American revolutionaries by writing: “If there must be trouble, let it be in my day that my child may have peace.” Thus we need that spirit. We as a whole have to take measures to control our population.
Our government must take and implement these steps with sincerity. Instead of making vote banks through projects of concrete bridges, now time to pay heed for the betterment of the whole nation.
Like climate change, the Prime Minister should keep this issue at priority list for the coming generations. So that our land of pure could be saved from the horrific blast of over-population.
— The writer is practising Lawyer and human rights activist, based in Lahore.