Overpopulation Alarm

The current population of Pakistan has reached 241.49 million with an annual growth rate of 2.5 percent. But the country is one of the few in the world with a comprehensive popula­tion policy and program roadmap at the federal and provincial lev­els, however, there is a need to initiate implementation of these policies and programs in collaboration with other stake­holders as Pakistan’s rapid population growth and eco­nomic conditions will make it more difficult for Pakistan to meet the needs of its population in the coming days.

Apparently, the increasing rate of population in Pakistan compared to the world is alarming but the ring of this alarm is not being heard nor is the rapidly escalating statistics be­ing seen. According to the Pakistan Census 2018, the total popu­lation was 207.68 million, but as per an estimate in 2022, this popu­lation has crossed 220 million and now it has exceeded 241 million. The number of men in this population was 10.63 million and the to­tal number of women was 10.13 million, the rural population was 13.2 million and the urban population consisted of 7.56 million peo­ple while now this rate has increased further.

Looking at the rapidly increasing population rate in Pakistan, it seems that the land availability will shrink in the next few years. Cur­rently, 260.88 people reside in one square kilometer in Pakistan while this rate is 409 people in KPK, 183.93 in FATA, 535.63 in Punjab, 339.6 in Sindh and 35.53 in Balochistan. The country’s population over the age of 18 is 53.40 percent and those over the age of 65 are 3.71 per­cent. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has a population of roughly three million, the population of FATA is 4.99 million people, the population of Punjab is 10.99 million, Sindh is 4.78 million and Balochistan is 12.3 million. These figures show that there is no equivalence between this growing population and resources. On the one hand, the population is increas­ing rapidly and on the other hand, the resources are decreasing at the same rate, the most obvious example of which is the scarcity of water. Similarly, facing an energy crisis due to shortage of other resources like oil and gas, the infrastructure of the country is also proving to be insufficient in terms of population size and it is becoming very difficult for any government to provide the numbers adequate educational in­stitutions, hospitals and roads for such a large population.

Pakistan has always been plagued by social, economic and cultural barriers and lack of political leadership commitment to family plan­ning due to which the fertility rate decline only 1.5% from the previ­ous year and our cities are becoming more densely populated while our rural areas are deprived of economic development and under­staffed. It has been the failure of every government that despite the big claims, they have not implemented population control programs nor have they made any viable plans to increase resources. Only, some measures have been adopted here to create a leisure, the consequenc­es of which are all witnessing. Although, the United Nations has made a global policy of population control. Its Population Action Plan has been available to both developed and developing countries since 1974 but since the rate of rapid population growth has been higher in devel­oping countries, so reassurances of population control are taken from developing countries and depopulation targets are made conditional upon granting loans and development funds, yet population growth is gradually leading to alarming problems if the issue is not tackled on an urgent basis otherwise, this will provoke a very serious situation.

In order to control this situation, where the government has to play its responsible role, the general public also have to consider their be­havior. Nowadays, every individual complains about rising inflation, unemployment and non-availability of resources but no one is con­templating how to get out of such crisis, Why does our country main­tain a high birth rate if we cannot provide or meet the conditions of standard living for every citizen? Such abandoned children are seen begging, working in houses and workshops, picking garbage, polish­ing shoes, selling flowers and even servicing cars. It is a bitter truth that due to the high birthrate of the country and the inability to fulfill basic needs, many children suffer a lot, often they are unemployed, il­literate, use drugs and this bitter truth cannot be denied.

How long will we continue to run away from the facts and how long will we continue to deny them? We have to not only face these facts instead we also have to remedy them, reduce the rapid rate of population incline and develop our resources. For this, the govern­ment will have to take serious measures at all levels, and the peo­ple will also have to cooperate with the government, otherwise this rapidly growing population will deplete the country’s resources not in centuries but in a few years. What will happen next, panic comes ashore, alarm bells start ringing but no sound is heard in this grow­ing storm of overpopulation?

Attiya Munawer
The writer is an activist and environmen-talist. She covers human rights and politico-environmen-tal issues. She tweets @Attiya
Munawer and can be reached at attiabutt121 @gmail.com

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