The pace at which Pakistan’s population is fast growing is worrisome. The population in Pakistan is growing at a rate of 2.4 % per year, adding 4 million children every year, making Pakistan the fifth most populous nation in the world. Furthermore, the population explosion has become an existential threat to the well-being of Pakistan. This gruesome issue demands that the government do away with its indifference and deploy all the means to curb the spiralling population. Apart from posing grave threats to the internal security landscape of Pakistan, burgeoning population growth is also a threat to the sustainable lifestyle of over 225 million citizens of Pakistan. Another facet of this population explosion is the youth bulge which makes up 60% of our total population. More than half of the youth in this country are unskilled, unenlightened, illiterate, unemployed, under-employed, lethargic, and inclined towards the useless trends of social media. The unemployed youth is highly prone to deviance and street crime owing to the vast discrepancies between social goals and means to achieve them, as enunciated by the sociologist Robert K. Merton. With its huge budget deficit and ever-shrinking resources, the government cannot support this ever-increasing population growth. People are forced to live in slums, our kids are out of school, food supplies are disrupted, and people do not have enough job opportunities to afford a suitable lifestyle.Moreover, owing to this population explosion, our roads are jammed, streets are overcrowded, and worst of all, our women and infants face malnutrition and severe health crises. The gravity of this abysmal situation demands immediate attention and a course of action by the government, media, and civil society. The cat is already out of the bag, and population management is the dire need of the hour.  

The government must involve the media in its awareness campaigns about the advantages of small family sizes. Similarly, Public Healthcare services must also be equipped with the necessary family planning services accessible to the general masses. Moreover, family planning services can also be incorporated into social welfare initiatives like the Sehat Sahulat Card and Ehsaas/Benazir Income Support Program to accord importance to this issue of the rapidly exploding populace in Pakistan. According to a study undertaken by World Health Organization, there are 3.8 million unintended pregnancies every year in Pakistan, resulting from the absence of modern contraception available to women. Moreover, 52 % of married women want to avoid pregnancy but are deprived of modern contraceptive methods of birth control. 

 Undeniably, the unchecked population explosion is the root cause behind Pakistan’s indigent socio-economic indicators. Population explosion is also responsible for Pakistan’s failure to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals related to reducing inequality, poverty alleviation, and quality education for all children. Likewise, appalling health service infrastructure and facilities, deep-rooted gender-based inequalities and poor quality of education are directly related to the high growth of the population, as the state apparatus cannot bear this burden with scarce resources. Pakistan has the world’s second-highest number of out-of-school children, 32% of our youth cannot read or write, and Pakistan allocates a meagre 2% of its budget on education, which is of substandard quality. Furthermore, Pakistan lags far behind on human development indicators; even the countries like Bangladesh that were once considered underdeveloped have outpaced Pakistan in socio-economic indicators. One prime reason for the development of Bangladesh is that it managed to constrain its population growth rate to 1 % taking rigorous measures in the right direction for the overall betterment of its people.  Multifaced social issues are tied up with the aggravating problem of the population boom in Pakistan. Giving in to the pressures exerted by the population explosion, people are compelled to migrate to urban areas.Studies say that most of Pakistan’s population will reside in urban areas by 2030. This rapid urbanization will further burden the already crumbling civic infrastructure of the metropolitan regions of Pakistan. The state is clueless regarding providing amenities like sewage networks, water supplies, schools, housing and hospital facilities to the overcrowded cities and towns with meagre resources at its disposal. The glaring example of the deplorable conditions of Karachi should serve as an eye-opener for the state and those in authority. Sadly, the issue of population explosion is missing from our security discourses, and political leadership is equally indifferent to this aggravating existential threat and looming national security issue. A developing state like Pakistan can’t progress on the human development index and economy without tackling this issue of the population boom. But unfortunately, the state has abdicated its duty to raise awareness campaigns and make robust policies for the awareness of the masses on population management. Although the essential services are missing from the horizon, we can only see sporadic messages about population controls, which make the most negligible impact on the Pakistani masses’ deep-trenched cultural norms and mentality. There is a dire need to spread awareness about family planning in Pakistan. The government, women’s rights associations, civil society, and media must join hands to educate and enlighten people about the importance of family planning in the best way possible for the prosperity of the entire nation. This issue demands immediate policy attention and financing to effectively implement planning and medical care to curb the rapid population boom. A new national narrative can be built around this to debunk the religious and orthodox myths about family planning. An immediate and coercive plan of action is the need of the hour before it is too late. Lastly, Pakistan being a nation, must start identifying women as human resources and change their perspective of women and their biological roles. While the political landscape of Pakistan is highly bent on mudslinging, blame games and obsessed with early elections and corruption, it is high time to remind our policymakers that other grave issues like population explosion also demand their immediate attention. The clock of population explosion is still ticking. The policymakers and planners of Pakistan must take action before the population bomb explodes!


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