ISLAMABAD: Rapid population growth is a major problem that confronts Pakistan as it lies at the centre of the country’s social, economic and political problems. In 1947, united Pakistan i.e., former East Pakistan and West Pakistan, was the 13th most populous country in the world with a population of 32.5 million. Today, Pakistan is the sixth most populous country in the world with a population of approximately 180 million. By 2020, Pakistan’s population is expected to reach the 210 million mark — a situation that will burden its limited resources making it difficult for the country to meet the requirements of its people.
Pakistan’s population growth rate is 2.05 per cent per year, which is the highest in Asia. No plausible development plan can sustain such a high rate of population growth. Since the 1960s different governments have made efforts to check the unrestrained population growth in the country, but their efforts could not produce significant results. This is because a huge segment of the population has developed a phobia for birth control, mainly due to sociocultural factors.
If this critical scenario in the population sector of the country is to change, Pakistan will have to focus on reducing its population growth rate to a sustainable level in the long-term, while seeking to benefit from its growing labour force by investing in human capital development in the medium-term.
M Fazal Elahi
Published in The Express Tribune, March 30th, 2012.