Growing Population Problems

There are institutions in this country that do some work but they are underutilized.

On one hand, the population of Pakistan is increasing ex­ponentially around 241.5 million and on the other hand, the lack of resources is on the rise. Pakistan has con­sumed around 81% of available crude oil re­serves and 69% of cu­mulative gas reservoirs. A few days ago, during the hearing of a petition re­garding preventive measures for smog, the Lahore High Court had expressed concern about run­ning out of water in Lahore in the next four years. Since funds are al­ready scarce for food, employment, housing, education and health facil­ities in the country and if the pop­ulation continues to grow at the same rate, the standard of living is likely to fall even further.

It is strange that the world is tak­ing more than one step to control growing population but nothing is being done in our country except to express concern. Any program of population control has not been inculcated in the agenda of polit­ical parties, indicating that such politicos are neither aware of its importance nor capable of formu­lating an effective strategy. If Pak­istan’s pressing population crisis and other related problems are to be addressed at a public level then it has been done by our honorable judiciary. The population survey in Pakistan has also become possible thanks to the Supreme Court.

If all the work has to be done by the honorable judiciary, then what is the government and political leadership doing? If the leadership claiming government and huge popular sup­port will be reluctant to deal with im­portant issues, will NGOs solve these pressing problems, which already in need of foreign aid and bureaucracy? It is the task of the current govern­ment and public institutions to deal with the increasing population and the problems arising from it in the country, but every government has never addressed the public issues in its respective agendas nor has any attention been paid to the function­ing of the institutions.

There are institutions in this country that do some work but they are underutilized. In this regard, a great deal of work is underway at the National Institute of Population Studies, as Pakistan Demograph­ic and Health Survey has been con­ducted several times, prominent books have been published and the provincial governments have also been informed through nation­al seminars about the areas where policy makers and the government need to work but their suggestions are never heeded.

First of all, there is no world stan­dard research in Pakistan and if it is happening somewhere, it is not uti­lized. That is why the shelves of ac­ademic institutions to research cen­ters are full of research books and no one is bothering to look or read them. If we examine the causes of population growth in these research reports, it is found that lack of fami­ly planning, inadequate planning ca­pacities, early marriages, illiteracy, non-empowerment of women, pov­erty, unemployment are the main factors of population growth and population can be controlled only by remedying these factors.

The increasing population is be­ing controlled very well around the world, while we are not pay­ing any special attention to popu­lation control. From our political to the institutional leadership, all our time is spent on verbal claims but we cannot turn a blind eye to the threats of overpopulation, nor can we embark on the path of prosperi­ty without depopulation. If the rap­id population growth rate in Paki­stan is seen, it is estimated that the population of Pakistan may exceed 350 million by 2050 and for such a large population, the governments must ponder about the provision of basic facilities, especially access to public health facilities. Some revo­lutionary steps will have to be tak­en but here the people and solving public problems is not among any­one’s priorities.

Apparently, every government is following the policy of preventing the growing population with alarm­ing statements. The interim minister for National Health Services, Regula­tions and Coordination is repeating the old pattern by declaring the pop­ulation rate as alarming, while the current need is that the funds or aid received from the developed coun­tries should not be spent only on in­creasing the prestige of government staff luxuries and officers’ automo­biles, but will be used to remedy the factors that lead to the increase in population, only then will we be able to avoid the problems that are esca­lating due to overpopulation.

Attiya Munawer
The writer is an activist and environmentalist. She covers human rights and politico-environmental issues. She tweets @AttiyaMunawer and can be reached at

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