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October 8, 2018

Too many people

Editorial

 
October 8, 2018

By the year 2030, Pakistan’s already over-utilised resources could come under even greater strain. Experts speaking at a seminar in Karachi last week have stated that by 2030, Pakistan – currently the sixth most populous – would be the fourth most populous country on Earth. The key reason for this is the failure to widen family planning and make it available to all. Pakistan’s failure in this respect has resulted in the highest population growth rate in the region, expanding from 34 percent last year to 35 percent during the current year. Experts point out that the population explosion and the number of births per family are linked to the failure to use modern contraception, even though 75 percent of the population, including 50 percent of women, are aware of its existence. Traditional factors such as the desire for a male child, the stigma against family planning and indifference on the part of men to the health toll this extracts on women already suffering undernourishment and health problems are largely responsible for this.

The death of 10 percent of children before they reach the age of five also encourages people to conceive larger families. The extremely high rate of pregnancy among teenagers, which stands at 80 percent as a result of early marriage, also contributes to the alarming growth rate. Soon the country will be swamped by an even larger number of problems as its population size increases. Other nations in the region, including those with value systems and beliefs similar to Pakistan such as Bangladesh, have been able to work extensively in the population control area and limit growth. We have failed miserably, partly as a result of opposition by orthodox elements to family planning and the means to control child birth. This naturally needs to be countered. We cannot afford a larger population, both for economic, social and environmental reasons. The government needs to put family planning at the top of its priorities. Noted experts have already warned it is by far the biggest problem Pakistan faces and presents to the country an even greater danger than militancy or disease. It would be sensible to include family planning messages in high school and college curriculums, but this in the past has led to outrage. We need to overcome our delicacies over such matters and understand that controlling the birth rate is the only way to make any kind of process as we move towards a situation where virtually every square meter of space will be occupied across our nation.