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Economic analysts and their political counterparts are yet to concur on the truth of the allegations by the Population Association of Pakistan that effective population control measures have been put in place to reduce the population problems in Pakistan.
Despite the slight decline in the total fertility of Pakistan since the start of this decade, the country still remains one of the most fertile countries in the whole world. Some demographers have associated this decline with the increasing use of methods of contraception in limiting fertility but there still exists a considerable controversy regarding the effectiveness and contribution of contraception in the relatively lower fertility rates seen in Pakistan as this decade ends.
Despite the aforementioned decline in the fertility rate of Pakistan, the country still experiences insurmountable population related-problems and stakeholders have been struggling to find an amicable solution to the problem. The future of Pakistan population therefore depends on the measures that the government and other stakeholders will take to curb the problem. Otherwise, the predictions of future population in Pakistan based on trends in the past and the present are shocking.
If nothing much is done from now on, Pakistan is expected to be one of the three most populated countries in the whole world. This paper investigates the population problem in Pakistan by suggesting the possible reasons for the current population trends, the effects they have on the country, possible solutions to the prevailing population problems and future predictions of population in Pakistan and its implications.
Current population problems in Pakistan
Pakistan’s total population was more than 180 million in the year 2009 with a total fertility rate of 4.0 in the same year (Sathar 7). This can be considered to be exponential population growth if compared to the 1947 figure for total population of 33 million. Currently, more than three million children are born each year adding more people to the already unsustainable population.
Pakistan is currently the second largest contributor to global population after India. The country is estimated to currently have a population of more than 170, 000 and the current population growth rate is believed to be currently standing at a figure above 1.5% (Sathar 8). In addition to the large population that Pakistan has, it is characterized with the fastest rate of urbanization with more than 35% of its total population living in urban areas (Sathar 3).
The above mentioned population problems coupled with problems brought about by urbanization have made Pakistan to be among the countries that are most affected by population growth. This is because, large population and rapid population growth has brought problems in virtually all realms of life in this country. Examples of such problems include poverty, unemployment, political instability, illiteracy, terrorism and religious extremism etc.
Poverty is believed to have increased by 10% in the past decade hitting a total of 40% of total population (Sathar 3). This means that 40% of Pakistan residents live below the poverty line (Sathar 3). It is also estimated that virtually a half of the population in Pakistan is illiterate. This implies that in the future, poverty and child labor are expected to increase since education is the only tool that can be used to predict a better future for these people.
Additionally, those in the elite class have only acquired minimal education and they are unable to bring innovative ideas to the country. The country is thus painfully slow in its adoption of new technologies and ideas. This has led to economic degeneration and the country is, seemingly, unable to come up with measures to counteract the effects that large population size has had on its economy. The country as also suffered significant corruption and political instability due to its system of using establishments in organizations.
The country has also experienced an establishment of criminal and terrorist networks that have made it fail to qualify for investments and tourism. This is mainly due to the religious fanatics that make the most of Pakistan population. This is very unfortunate for Pakistan especially considering the fact that other countries like China are getting billions of dollars in form of foreign investment while other small countries like Philippines have a substantial amount of tourism activity and foreign investments.
Given the repercussions that these problems have had on the population of Pakistan, there is need to look into the causes of population growth and the cause of such problems in order to form effective policies that will help to end these problems. The discussion below investigates the root cause of the problems that Pakistan if facing and suggests a number of solutions that can be implemented to reduce the effects these problems have had on the people of Pakistan.
Causes of population problems
The main reason why Pakistan is facing the above mentioned problems is due to the inability of the government and the population of Pakistan to effectively reduce their population growth rate.
Therefore, the main causes of the problem are the causes of inefficiency in combating population growth. The stated inability of the government and the Pakistan population to reduce their rate of population growth is due to their lack of effectiveness in implementing family planning programmes which were started in this country in the 1950’s (Hagen 1).
The stated planning programmes failed in Pakistan because of a weakness in the administrative structure these programmes were subjected to. It can be deduced from the failure of these programmes that the government did not adequately educate the public about the crucial importance of family planning and the grave repercussions of ignorance of the same.
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The government therefore needs to engage itself in public awareness campaigns aimed at educating the public about the importance of small families. The government also needs to be vigilant to identify populist politicians and deal with them accordingly before they derail efforts to educate the public and eventually reduce the population growth rates.
Despite the fact that Pakistan started fighting its population growth in the 1950’s with the implementation of population control programmes, nothing much has been achieved since then.
In comparison with other countries like Bangladesh and Iran, where family planning programmes like the use of contraceptives had a dramatic effect, Pakistan has not been serious with their family planning programmes. This is because Iran started its family programme in the 1980’s while Bangladesh started their in the 1970’s and both countries realized exponential declines their fertility rates unlike Pakistan (Hagen 1).
The people of Pakistan also have a role to play in the fight against population growth. They should listen to the government and ensure that they follow the instructions they are given in order to reduce their fertility rates. This is because one of the main reasons why family planning has been ineffective in this country is the fact that the citizens of this country cling to the religious and cultural values such that they forget to mind about their welfare.
For instance, it is a religious belief in Pakistan that engaging in family planning practices is going against the will of God (Hagen 1). The ineffectiveness of family planning programmes caused by these beliefs has been the reason why population in Pakistan is always growing and bringing the myriad of problems stated in the discussion above.
Solutions to the population problems in Pakistan
In order to effectively combat the population problem in Pakistan, there is need for a coherent approach aimed at removing the socio-cultural and religious stigma attached to the fight against population growth. This will help to prepare the people in Pakistan for a change to their normal life in order to achieve a productive change in the growth rate of their population.
There is also the need for implementation of a service delivery plan bound to achieve effective results throughout the entire country. The service delivery plan should be structured such that every Pakistan citizen who needs to plan his/her family will be able to access the necessary services. This is because it will be pointless to run advertisements on the television if there are no effective networks of workers on the ground to provide effective information and if there are no outreach activities (Sathar 4).
Up to today, the main reason for the failure of family planning programmes is the lack of political commitment to the issue and the lack of continuity of efforts after political transitions. If the prevailing lack of commitment to this important issue remains, change will always be evasive and Pakistan will continue to suffer the problems it currently suffers.
The government can also launch a programme to mitigate the effects that high population growth rates have had on the country by diverting some resources to alleviation of poverty, investing in agricultural activities to feed its citizens by increasing food security and coming up with policies to avoid formation of poor urban areas that increase poverty and crime.
To achieve this objective, the government needs to be objective since it has limited resources. For instance, to increase food security, the government may invest negligible resources in environmental conservation campaigns that will automatically lead to more agricultural activities. On the other hand, the government could alleviate poverty by subsidizing activities that lead to provision of food and educating the public on viable methods of investment.
Future population problems in Pakistan
If the prevailing population growth rate in Pakistan, 2.1 percent per year, persists, Pakistan is expected to have a population of between 220 million and 250 million between the years 2020 and 2025 (Hagen 1). This will inevitably be coupled with indicators of poor human development which include low rates of economic growth, high rates of infant mortality and an amazing decline in the levels of literacy in the country.
All these poor human development indicators will be partly or fully brought by the uncontrolled population growth. It is thus deducible that a the predicted population will be very effective in undermining poverty alleviation efforts and the efforts being taken in the country to improve the standard under which the country’s population live by provision of basic necessities like water, electricity and the like.
During the same five-year period, the total fertility rate, the infant mortality rate, the crude death rate and the crude birth rate are expected to reduce to figures close to 2.7, 42.2, 5.6, and 21.4 respectively (Sathar 7). The population growth rate is also expected to reduce to 1.52 while the life expectancy of the population will be close to 72 years (Sathar 9).
The discussion above implies that there will be no pronounced effect of the drop in the population growth rate since the life expectancy has increased and the negligible increase in population growth rate will be neutralized by the aging population to keep population problems virtually constant.
This stresses the highly needed commitment to contraceptive methods and other population control methods in order to reduce the population growth rate substantially. It is only when a major reduction in the rate of population growth will be realized that we can be hopeful that population problems in Pakistan will reduce in the future.
Strategies to avoid future population problems
Due to the above stated concern, the government of Pakistan has come up with population reduction policies aimed at gradually reducing the population growth rate. The government priority among its policies is the attainment of ensuring that, ten years from now, it will reach the replacement fertility level.
The above paragraph describes the intention of the government of Pakistan to reach a replacement fertility level in the year 2020 (Hagen 1). This is just a statement of what the government desires to do and without proper planning and commitment to the programmes concerned, the gravely desired decrease in the population of Pakistan will forever remain evasive.
The government of Pakistan therefore needs to integrate awareness programs with proper service delivery programs in a bid to be assured of improving the population situation in their country substantially.
The awareness programs should be aimed at ensuring that every Pakistan citizen understands that smaller families are better than larger families and helping every Pakistan citizen break cultural and social chains tying them to high fertility. The programme should be implemented to touch every part of the country and it should run for as long as the government will be assured that a family planning program will achieve substantial results.
The government should thus dedicate the minimal resources it has in this program and ensure the effectiveness of a family planning programme (Sathar 3). On the other hand, the family planning programme should be such that there is an efficient network of service delivery centers throughout the country to ensure that every part of the country participates in the efforts to reduce the population of the country.
There is also the need for the Pakistan government and public to begin realizing the importance of literacy to the alleviation of population related problem. It can, in fact, be argued that high fertility problems and problems encountered in implementing family planning programmes are due to the high level of illiteracy in the country.
If the government and its people prioritize improvement of education institutions, there can be a guarantee that the population problem and some of its resultant effects will reduce in the future. It is therefore of essence that, as it implements other solutions, the government considers revolutionizing the education system of the country since this will have positive effects on the problems the country is currently facing.
The Pakistan government and population have encountered insurmountable problems related to their high population growth rates since the fifties. Currently, forty per cent of the people in Pakistan are below the poverty line and illiteracy and low standards of living have engulfed the country’s population for decades.
The Pakistan government and population can no longer be ignorant of the fact that the situation can be improved sacrificing their religious and cultural beliefs to have small families. For instance, if the Pakistan people abandon their belief that family planning amounts to going against the will of God, better results can be seen from family planning efforts and this will substantially reduce the population growth rate.
The government and the population need to realize that small families are needed in order to realize personal and national health. The government therefore needs to develop strategic programmes aimed at creating extensive public awareness that will make the population in Pakistan realize the importance of family planning.
This should be followed by family planning programmes which will definitely have an impact on the population growth rate since the Pakistan population will have gained an understanding of the grave importance of low birth rates. Otherwise, the existing problems of poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, etc will worsen and with time the country will fall under the weight of its sheer population size.
Hagen, Catherine. “Pakistan Population.” Retrieved from, <http://countrystudies.us/pakistan/29.htm>
Sathar, Zeba. “Fertility in Pakistan: Past, Present and Future.” 2001. Web.