Pop­u­la­tion plan­ning

The Pak Banker - - FRONT PAGE -

The world pop­u­la­tion is grow­ing at a faster rate than its de­vel­op­ment gains. Pak­istan is also wit­ness­ing a pop­u­la­tion ex­plo­sion. In 1950, Pak­istan's pop­u­la­tion was 33 mil­lion and it was 14th in the world. Ac­cord­ing to the United Na­tions Pop­u­la­tion Fund ( UNPF), Pak­istan is cur­rently the sixth most pop­u­lous coun­try in the world, with its 208 mil­lion peo­ple and a growth rate of 2.4 per­cent. As a re­sult, its de­vel­op­ment gains fall far short of its needs dic­tated by its bur­geon­ing pop­u­la­tion. As to why Pak­istan has come to such a sorry pass there are mul­ti­ple causes, the most im­por­tant be­ing poverty, poor con­tra­cep­tive use, high un­met need of fam­ily plan­ning, high fer­til­ity and de­clin­ing mor­tal­ity, gen­der- based dis­crim­i­na­tion, son pref­er­ence, early mar­riages and so­cio- cul­tural and re­li­gious taboos.

The UNFP re­port has taken due no­tice of the world's fail­ure to meet the pop­u­la­tion chal­lenge. But there have been some sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ments. Many coun­tries have tack­led the chal­lenge of pop­u­la­tion ex­plo­sion in myr­iad ways. They pre­fer to have small fam­i­lies; they've pop­u­lar­ized the use of con­tra­cep­tives, rec­og­nized the right of women to de­cide when to have ba­bies and im­proved re­pro­duc­tive health of moth­ers. And the need to con­trol size of fam­ily has been felt and met not only in ad­vanced coun­tries; even rel­a­tively less ad­vanced coun­tries too have done that. Pak­istan is the only ex­cep­tion, as oth­ers have greatly suc­ceeded in con­trol­ling the pop­u­la­tion growth rate.

Suc­ces­sive govern­ments in Pak­istan have failed to frame nec­es­sary poli­cies and un­der­take prag­matic mea­sures to ed­u­cate the peo­ple in this re­spect, both in pro­vid­ing ad­e­quate health fa­cil­i­ties to lower in­fan­tile mor­tal­ity rate and im­prove the chances of sur­vival of new­born ba­bies. There was a fam­ily plan­ning pro­gramme as long ago as 1950. It was taboo to ex­hibit birth- con­trol de­vices then and to­day the sit­u­a­tion is even worse. The con­tra­cep­tives were sold un­der the ta­ble then and so is the case now. Re­call the in­de­cent haste with which an ad on a tele­vi­sion chan­nel cam­paign sup­port­ing use of con­tra­cep­tives was with­drawn. And since then such ads are taboo on pub­lic me­dia. The op­po­si­tion to the use of con­tra­cep­tives stems from the mis­per­cep­tion, put for­ward by re­li­gious cir­cles that the said de­vice is pro­grammed by anti- Is­lam forces who want to keep a check on growth of Mus­lim pop­u­la­tion in the world - a mind­set that also trig­gers mur­der­ous at­tacks on anti- po­lio work­ers in Pak­istan. But that is not the case with other Mus­lim coun­tries where fam­ily plan­ning im­per­a­tive is jus­ti­fied not only by their govern­ments but also by the re­li­gious en­ti­ties.

The higher rate of pop­u­la­tion growth is fast out­strip­ping our na­tional re­sources, a sorry state which tends to pro­mote among the masses a sense of de­pri­va­tion and pro­vokes them to change the sys­tem by use of force. Given that in Pak­istan to­day more than half of the pop­u­la­tion is un­der 20, meeting their need for job and work that would be a huge chal­lenge for any fu­ture government. The best time to un­der­take the task of ed­u­cat­ing peo­ple in fam­ily plan­ning was the early years of our na­tional in­de­pen­dence; the sec­ond best is now. The PTI government is com­mit­ted to im­prov­ing the qual­ity of life of the or­di­nary peo­ple. One big step in that di­rec­tion is the birth con­trol, both by cre­at­ing pub­lic aware­ness of the need to plan the fam­ily and by putting in place real, ef­fec­tive and eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble where­withal to achieve that ob­jec­tive. And no less cru­cially the government should ini­ti­ate a dia­logue with the re­li­gious lead­er­ship and the so- called cus­to­di­ans of our tra­di­tional and cul­tural norms to con­cede space to var­i­ous gov­ern­men­tal and non- gov­ern­men­tal agen­cies to pop­u­lar­ize use of fam­ily plan­ning de­vices.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.