Population explosion: A real threat to Pakistan | By Dr Abdul Razak Shaikh


Population explosion: A real threat to Pakistan

World Population Day, which seeks to focus attention on the urgency and importance of population issues was established by the then-Governing Council of the United Nations Development Program in 1989, an outgrowth of the interest generated by the Day of Five Billion, which was observed on 11 July 1987.

The world population increases annually by 100 million approximately every 14 months.

On this year’s World Population Day the theme is Rights and choices are the answer: Whether baby boom or bust, the solution to shifting fertility rates lies in prioritizing the reproductive health and rights of all people.

The current world population is 7.9 billion as of July 2021 according to the most recent United Nations estimate.

On World Population Day, advocates from around the world are calling on leaders, policymakers, grassroots organizers, institutions and others to help make reproductive health and rights a reality for all.

International days are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, mobilize political will and resources to address global problems and celebrate and reinforce the achievements of humanity.

The existence of international days predates the establishment of the United Nations, but the UN has embraced them as a powerful advocacy tool.

By resolution 45/216 of December 1990, the United Nations General Assembly decided to continue observing World Population Day to enhance awareness of population issues, including their relations to the environment and development. The Day was first marked on 11 July 1990 in more than 90 countries.

Since then, a number of UNFPA country offices and other organizations and institutions commemorate World Population Day, in partnership with governments and civil society.

The UN logo is often associated with marketing and promotional material for this event. It features a projection of a world map (less Antarctica) centered on the North Pole, enclosed by olive branches.

The olive branches symbolize peace and the world map represents all the people of the world. It has been featured in colors such as blue against a yellow background.

More people means an increased demand for food, water, housing, energy, healthcare, transportation, and more.

And all that consumption contributes to ecological degradation, increased conflicts, and a higher risk of large-scale disasters like pandemics.

In this second year of COVID-19, we are suspended in an in-between state, where parts of the world are emerging from the deep recesses of the pandemic while others are locked in battle with the coronavirus as access to vaccines remains a distant, deadly reality.

The pandemic has compromised health care systems particularly in the area of sexual and reproductive health.

While those with access to sexual and reproductive health services historically delay childbearing in times of fiscal uncertainty or crisis, disruptions in the supply of contraceptives in combination with lockdowns are predicted to result in a sharp rise in unplanned pregnancies for the most vulnerable.

According to UNFPA research in March, an estimated 12 million women experienced disruptions to family planning services.

Overpopulation is a global crisis and Pakistan is among the most overpopulated country in the world.

A rapidly growing population creates economic and social problems such as housing, education, health, transport, water, power, etc.

The very high rate of population growth lowers the per capita income, which caused in low saving and a low investment that results in a low rate of capital formation.

Unchecked population growth in Pakistan is among one the serious challenges which the country faces today.

Arguably, this rapid rise in population poses the biggest threat to the state’s plans to achieve self-sufficiency in different human development indicators.

Pakistan is an Islamic state and there is no rule for birth control. Many find it an insult against Islam and family planning programs in most regions are ignored.

Sometimes the staff of family planning programs is attacked. The concept of a large family in Pakistan is very common and has become part of the culture.

Many Pakistanis consider large families a blessing and do not bother to think if they are able to adequately feed and support the children. Tribal and conservative attitudes also contribute to this mentality.

Females are not viewed as equal to men and in many families are prevented from working or studying outside their homes.

If a woman gets ill, her husband or male relative must take a day off to escort her to the hospital.

The Pakistani education system is very poor and the government seems unwilling or unable to make effective changes.

Moreover, poverty, inflation, illiteracy, social unrest and criminality are the cases in point that are created by overpopulation.

Therefore, the government of Pakistan needs to devote not only adequate time and attention to these issues but to implement real change and reform to solve the overpopulation crisis.

— The writer is retired officer of Sindh Govt.

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