Speakers urged taking concrete steps to curb the burgeoning population and pull the country back from the edge of an abyss.
They were speaking at a discussion organised by Pathfinder International and Subh-e Nau on the eve of World Population Day. The theme for this year is, “Invest in young people today to ensure a bright future”.
The speakers said rigidity and conservatism among males and illiteracy among women were hampering efforts to stem population growth.
They also expressed concern over the involvement of youth in crimes, as according to them, most of them had failed to get jobs as growth in the agriculture and industrial sectors has remained low.
Pathfinder International head Dr Tauseef Ahmed said that most of the youth was now being dubbed “uneducated, unskilled, and devoid of aspirations”.
He said growing population is a cross-cutting issue all over the world, he said.
Dr Ahmed said that the growing population meant that all sectors were under pressure to deal with the additional burden of children that society cannot provide for.
“This fact has to be understood in its proper light. Population programs are not against religion in any way, as Islam promotes the aspirations of people to educate themselves and build healthier societies,” he said. Dr Ahmed said that it should be understood by everyone that more population needs more budgetary allocations and more funds.
Environmental and public health expert Dr Jawad Chishtie said that if a consistent national population policy was adopted by successive government, things would have been different today.
Subh-e Nau Chief of Research Dr Farrukh Ahmed said that the growing population had environmental effects as well.
“Look at the water situation — due to climate change, we have recurring droughts and floods which compromise food security. Where will we find food to feed our people? The nutrition status of our children indicates serious malnutrition issues including stunting, early deaths and many other problems that persist throughout their lives, since they did not get the right start,” he said.
He said population size and composition both have roles to play and the environment suffers most in highly-populated areas.
He lamented the fact that the major cause of environmental degradation in the world today was growing populations, as these led to congested city centres and lack of space for forests and natural resources.
“Had we controlled the population, it would have eased the burden on budget allocations and the overall stress on the environmental. We are raising a population that will never realise their potential and will fail to compete with peers at international level,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 11th, 2014.