Issues and Challenges

The Blight of Overpopulation

Anation’s fate and progress is determined by the quality and effective utilization of its human resource. The population of a community is a two-edged sword that may act both as an asset and a problem. Sustainable national development is ensured by a dynamic, productive workforce that is diligent, committed, and productive. Countries all over the world have been concentrating on the tactics of balancing and capitalizing on population expansion, despite the fact that improved healthcare, medical technology, and adequate food production have decreased mortality rates and increased average population growth.
For example, China has the largest population in the world and has capitalized on its human resources and is now a global force on practically all fronts. A badly managed population, meanwhile, increases liabilities with long-term detrimental implications for societies.
Pakistan, despite having a staggering 60.97% of youth population, has not been able to effectively employ its human capital. The nation could have been excelling in all spheres of life if they had taken advantage of the tremendous human resources. Unfortunately, our population has become a ticking time bomb due to historic systematic neglect, exclusivist approaches, chronic elite capture, social inequity, feudalism, a lack of social engagement, poor healthcare and education. Proliferation of these social problems is not just an individual problem, it is a communal and state issue, which is pessimistically evolving in nature. 
In 2021, the high birth rate has led to a growth rate of 1.9% in Pakistan, triggered low per capita income, and unemployment rate has increased. The country’s population boom has been attributed to a variety of separate and interrelated factors. High birth and low mortality rates, poverty and illiteracy, low contraception prevalence and birth control awareness, the custom of child marriage and preference for the son, conflicts and displacements, as well as misinterpretations of religion and unfounded customs, have all played a part.
More concerning though, is the government’s continued indifference to the threat posed by the nation’s rapidly expanding population. The country’s population is growing at a disproportionate rate as a result of the apathy. With 32.5 million inhabitants at the time of its founding, Pakistan was rated 14th globally. But in the last 75 years, its population has increased to 224 million, making it the fifth most populous nation in the world. The country’s population is predicted to rise by 56% to 366 million by 2050, according to the UN report — World Population Prospects 2022, which is a worrying development. Overpopulation is a catastrophe that is plaguing the country’s economic and social progress. Pakistan is facing challenges of providing opportunities for maintaining the standard of life.
Serious consequences result from the country’s growing population, including an excessive demand on resources and space, poverty and unemployment, a food shortage and water crisis, housing issues and the expansion of slums, healthcare issues and illiteracy, corruption and poor management, an increase in crimes, populism and ethnic tensions, terrorism and radicalization, sanitation issues and deadly diseases, child labor, the depletion of natural resources, and environmental degradation.
Arguably, Pakistan is not an agrarian country anymore; the vast majority of the areas that are now being converted into villages, towns, and housing societies were formerly a vital element of Pakistan’s agricultural landscape. If the population growth continues at the current rate, Pakistan would experience severe food insecurity within a few decades.

The nation’s demographics have seen a significant transformation as a result of its rapid population growth. The country’s major metropolitan centers are currently under stress as a result of this. The population density has become high in Pakistan’s two largest cities, Karachi and Lahore. Major urban areas are where the majority of Pakistan’s youth is migrating because of the dwindling job possibilities there. There is a high incidence of rural population moving towards cities in search of economic opportunities and other facilities like education, health, roads, markets, businesses and better lifestyle.
In Pakistan, population control measures have been taken at national, provincial and district levels, though these have not proved to be very effective because of a dearth of resources, illiteracy and lack of awareness in addition to societal attitudes. Most of the people are not familiar with the contraceptives, family planning, etc., and they also feel hesitation in consultation. Early age marriages and lack of knowledge on birth control methods increases the duration for re-productivity in a woman’s life, which is not just affecting the population demography, but is also harmful for the mothers and neonatal health. Polygamy is also another dynamic in the increasing population, especially in feudal setups. Population control has become very challenging due to political contentions, cultural limitations and the regressive situation of women in Pakistan. 
Pakistan is facing a number of challenges in improving the worsening situation of population demography. Over the years, international agencies like United Nations and World Bank have provided funding to manage the overpopulation in the country, but inconsistent policies and monitoring mechanisms have not helped in attaining the target. Locally, family planning programs are in dire need of robust and unswerving strategy with strong headed leadership and sustained execution plan. Awareness campaigns should be initiated to create cognizance among people about the severity of the issue. HH

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