Written By: Shanzeh Iqbal
While I am writing this article the news tells a poor lady in Sakhhar tried to commit suicide with her five daughters due to scarcity of food and miserable financial conditions. This is a strong comment on society where the pets of a rich man eat food which a poor man is deprived of. In Pakistan resource allocation is not correct. Trickledown effect of resources is absent due to which poor is getting poorer.
Pakistan is the sixth most populous country in the world. In 1960 its population was 45.9 million while in 2014 it is 188.8 million. Currently the growth rate of Pakistan is 2.2 percent while the world population is 7 billion but if the same growth rate persists, estimates are that it would reach 14 billion in the next century.
Pakistan had 2.6 percent growth rate in the 1990s and it was the highest among the world. Now it has 2.2 percent and still it is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. That is an ardent reason why we have failed to achieve the millennium development goals. Over population leads to an increasing rate of poverty and hunger. Earth resources are getting limited day by day. Overpopulation poses a great risk. So far this grave issue has been neglected by many conventional political parties. It is a great challenge and sooner we realize the importance of tackling with this issue, the better it would be in Pakistan’s interest.
When the sources of country run short of meeting the needs of the people, the result is overpopulation. Among the reasons responsible for overpopulation include, low per capita income, food shortage, unemployment. Cultural and religious resistance to check the child birth has been potent factors in causing overpopulation in Pakistan. Early marriages, low gab in between the kids, avoidance of birth control methods, lower house hold saving rates, poor economic growth and increasing number of unemployed youth are also some of the factors responsible for this state of affairs. Housing is another big concern. The people are forced to live in the crowded houses. Sanitation problem results because houses are being built at a faster pace. Sewer system problems arise due to this bad sanitation in the newly built houses. The ultimate result causes diseases like heart problems and cancer etc. The lack of housing is forcing the people to cut down trees. Thus the problem of pollution gets more severe owing to rapid deforestation. This leads to dislocation of wildlife. Pollution creates problem of congested traffic on the roads. Over population causes a severe impediment to environment sustainability and leads to deteriorating life standards. The natural resources are also reduced due to increasing consumption and the balance of supply and demand gets greatly suffered. Overpopulation creates air, water and noise pollution problems and leads to a decline in the rate of saving and investment of a country. Overcrowding, depletion of natural sources and environmental deterioration, all are real threats for our future for which serious and concerted efforts at national and individual level are needed.
Higher standards of living, better health technologies and the improved economic conditions of households helped in dropping the death rates in the developed world. Same was true of Pakistan, birth rate declined due to improved vaccination and healthcare facilities, but greater number of people added to manifold problems as rapid growth rates put so many pressures on food security matters, environment hazards, urbanization and poor infrastructure of education, health, less safe drinking water supply, disposal of sewage etc.
A renowned American author, Dan Brown says that, “Cancer is nothing more than a healthy cell that starts replicating out of control” Henry Bergson even went to the extent of saying that “If the self reproduction of man is not rationalized, we shall have war” Although Pakistan is an agricultural land yet the 25 percent land of Pakistan is uncultivable. Huge population is consuming the sources and the future is becoming more alarming. If the same rate of population continues the government’s efforts would also be unable to yield results and it would not be able to give everybody a decent life. It cannot go for generating more resources and improving infrastructure.
There is a lack of planning. Due to the immense population the NGOs are also unable to work. The output is possible if the civil society works in collaboration with political parties and the local government. The overall low rate of education hinders in bringing any positive feed backs. There is a point raised by some people that if over population is a problem for Pakistan then it should be same in India and Bangladesh. But they are devising modalities to combat this problem. A case study of a lady health worker in Bangla Desh, Tasleema revealed that she went door to door and offered advice, moral support and a range of contraceptives and thus contributed for generating awareness among the rural women to limit the number of kids for their better upbringing. This small step and many of its kind eventually have played an effective role in improving life in Bangla Desh and the growth rate lowered to a considerable extent.
Reproductive Health Services Centers can help creating wakefulness among couples about the difficulties in rearing extended families. It is also suggested that population control must be a part of the manifestos of the political parties along with other priorities. Highly effective family planning programmes must be ensured by the government. Causes of overpopulation must be addressed. There is a need to evolve strategies. Social and economic sectors strategies should be evolved.
If the women are empowered, their access to healthcare is guaranteed and they are educated, sustainable economic growth can be ensured. Also the marriages at an early age must be discouraged. The political will is required to meet this challenge. Effective media campaigns can assist the family planning programmes to help create consciousness among semi educated people to have the advantages of a restricted family. Again the emphasis is on socio-religious aspect. Many people take more kids as a gift of Allah and believe that He would generate sources for them. There is a need to convince them that if they have more kids and a few resources then the rearing would be strictly affected, hence they must get more rational.
A study reveals that “According to statics, Pakistan has one of the most interesting demographics. It has one of the world’s largest youth with 48 per cent of population aged between 15 and 49 while 56 per cent population is aged between 15 and 64.” Effective policies can convert large population into a large economy and a good opportunity and make Pakistan an economic power house of the region. What is needed is better and appropriate management of human resources. However if we are not able to pay proper attention to this great resource then it becomes a burden on the economy of the country. Number of population must be in harmony with the territory. Even it is said that democracy cannot survive in presence of over population and if we wish to live with human dignity and with decency we have to bring a balance.