Sunday May 28, 2023

Political stability pivotal for population control

March 22, 2023

Islamabad : Ambassadors of Bangladesh and Indonesia shared the success stories of family planning in their respective countries at the 8th meeting of the Parliamentary Forum on Population organised by the Population Council with the support of UNFPA on Tuesday.

“Bangladesh invested in a robust family planning programme and women's empowerment through employment and education, which helped the country achieve the majority of its development goals and improve its social indices and economic benchmarks. Because of initiatives like subsidies for entrepreneurship, specific economic zones for women, and awards for continuing their education, there are currently six million women who work in the clothing business. Bangladesh was able to accomplish its population management goals thanks to a strong, nonpartisan political commitment”.

This was stated Md. Ruhul, High Commissioner of Bangladesh to Pakistan who was invited to address the meeting. He said that the government ensured that family welfare aides delivered family planning services right to people's doorsteps, together with sanitation, mother and child healthcare, and other components of a comprehensive health package. He said “Intense media efforts and the engagement of Ulemas had a big impact in lowering the nation's overall fertility rate and bringing it down to sustainable levels." Members of the Senate, legislators from the national and provincial assemblies, and regional body of Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK) representing all major political parties attended the meeting. Launched in March 2020, The Parliamentary Forum on Population is a cross-party platform to raise parliamentary awareness on population and development, sustain cross-party political commitment and advocate for population stabilisation. Speaking at the event, Indonesia's ambassador to Pakistan, Adam Mulawarman Tugio, stated, "Family planning has long been a top priority of the Indonesian government's human dev­elo­pment programme as the fourth most populous country in the world. From 5.41 children per woman in 1971 to 2.27 children per woman in 2020, Indonesia has seen a dramatic drop in fertility. The Total Fertility Rate decreased by 54% in 2000, from 5.6 to 2.6 births per woman, thanks to a nationwide campaign. The next goal is to stabilize population growth by 2025 by achieving a fertility rate of 2.1 births per woman. He emphasized the importance of committed family planning institutions like BKKBN, which improved information and access and promoted the National Family Planning Programme to all segments of society, as well as the continued political resolve of succeeding governments at all levels in achieving human development goals. Both the diplomats said population management was central to the development agenda of their respective countries.

In her welcome remarks Dr. Zeba Sathar, Country Director, Population Council stated “We need to follow the footsteps of bother Muslim countries and learn how Indonesia and Bangladesh achieved their development targets. Legislators played a key role in investment of human development goals in these countries which are similar to Pakistan as far socio-cultural and religious background is concerned”.

The general secretary of the Forum, Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, stated that "people are at the core of national development, and human security is crucial to national security” By the inclusion of population into the National Security Plan, the Forum has achieved a key milestone. He claimed that the only way to address our economic issues is to bring down our population growth rate in line with brother Muslim nations.

The parliamentarians stressed the need for the present financial distribution formula, NFC, to be revised so that it is no longer linked to population numbers and is instead focused on the achievement of human development goals. In order to change the NFC distribution formula, they underlined the importance of conducting a national debate on NFC with the participation of the leaders of all political parties, the prime minister, chief ministers, and key ministers. The parliamentarians complimented the presentations made by the diplomats from the two friendly Muslim countries and concurred that Pakistan could learn a lot from and take inspiration from both for its population planning initiatives.

Dr. Rubina Ali, Assistant Country Representative for UNFPA, concluded by stating that lawmakers have a crucial role in advancing the agenda for population welfare. She reaffirmed UNFPA's commitment to helping the Pakistani government fulfil its obligations regarding sustainable population growth.