KARACHI: The women lawmakers in Sindh Assembly demanded "sterilisation of men" as a measure to control growing population of the country. During the debate on a resolution "to control population and launch of awareness campaign," all political parties except lawmakers from religious parties, Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) and Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), supported the resolution in the provincial assembly.
As the session started with Agha Siraj Durrani in the chair, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement - Pakistan (MQM-P) MPA Rana Ansar moved a private resolution and said, "There is no proper planning in controlling population in the province. We lack resources and attach great importance in giving birth to more children. It's a population bomb and we need to devise a comprehensive strategy to deal with it."
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Referring to the significant chunk of population living under poverty line, she said that all countries including China, Iran and Russia were making all-out efforts to control and plan their population, but here people consider women to be a machine to produce more children. "We should include this issue in our syllabus and start mass mobilisation in every nook and cranny of Sindh. Not only women, but male health workers should be appointed to sensitise men," she said.
Nusrat Seher Abbasi of Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) supported the resolution and said that women had suffered more in every field, so it's high time for men to render sacrifices. "Even in family planning, only women are being sterilised to prevent pregnancy. This causes serious complication to the mother's health. Why are women being made the scapegoat and forced to give sacrifice of their lives? There should be a strict law which ensures male sterilisation," she said. The women sitting on treasury and opposition benches welcomed the idea by Abbasi.
Abbasi also criticised the Population Welfare Department of Sindh government for failing to achieve its targets and said, "We have not heard of any progress of this department. For the last five year, the questions answers of the department have not been placed in the assembly."
MMA MPA Abdul Rashid, however, opposing the idea of controlling population through family planning said, "The government should pay attention towards proper planning and settlement of population rather than the idea of contraception," he said adding that Turkey and Japan were giving stipends to those who give birth to children. "Pakistan currently has the largest youth population which can excel in every field. With the control on population, we will have only old people in our country," he said.
When the speaker gave floor to TLP MPA Mohammad Qasim, he began his speech by shouting slogans, "Labaik, Labaik Ya Rasool Allah" and said, "We reject this resolution". He said that it was against the Islamic principles and values and added, "We are suffering from bad governance, our wrong deeds and lack of faith in Almighty Allah".
He suggested all members to perform five times prayers through which all issues would be resolved. "Please don't interfere in the work of God. Make your house in order and come up with proper planning," he remarked. TLP MPA became emotional on this issue and said, "It's God who gives life and livelihood. We not only reject this idea of family planning, but condemn this resolution too."
Minister for women development, Shehla Raza, however, stood up at her seat and congratulated Rana Ansar for moving the resolution. "Women are also human and we should care and protect them. When women give birth to more babies, there is greater risk of mothers dying and giving birth to weak and abnormal children," she said adding, "It is not possible for a poor man to feed a dozen children and provide education and other facilities. We can only compete in the world when you have mentally and physically healthy people in society."
Shahzad Qureshi of PTI suggested consulting religious scholars to evolve consensus on this issue. Muhammad Hussain of MQM-P, referring to a decade old Karachi population and available sources, said, "Karachi used to receive 480 MGD [millions of gallons per day] water daily when its population was 12 million. Now population of Karachi stands at 30 million, but unfortunately it still receives the same quantity of water. The same thing is happening in all other sectors including transportation. The situation can very quickly spiral out of our control if we don't take drastic measures to control our population."
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Health and Population Minister Dr Azra Pechuho briefing the house about government's initiatives said, "We need planning and responsible parents to ensure that healthy children are born". She added that every government has limited resources, so it can't control and manage the population bomb. The health minister said that the family planning programme initiated by Benazir Bhutto was operating in around 43 areas of the province and the incumbent government was trying to expand it all over the Sindh. She said that Sindh was the only province, which had taken lead in legislation and was working on sensitising men and women on this issue. "The use of contraception has increased by 4% in rural Sindh as compared to Karachi and Hyderabad where this ratio stands at 3%".
Tuesday was a private day for the provincial assembly members who had to move bills and resolution. PTI MPA Rabia Azfar Nizami moved a bill to control narcotic substance in Sindh. However, MQM-P MPA Rana Ansar moved "Sindh Water Management (Amendment) Bill 2018". Later, the speaker adjourned the session till Wednesday (today).
Published in The Express Tribune, January 16th, 2019.