Pakistan Birth Rate ‘Disaster In Making’ As Population Reaches 207 Million


A new national consensus shows that the population has grown by 57 per cent since 1998, reaching 207.7 million and making Pakistan the world’s fifth-most-populous country.

Pakistan now ranks behind China, India, the United States and Indonesia.

The annual birth-rate, while gradually declining, is still alarmingly high. At 22 births per 1,000 people, it is among the highest outside Africa.

“The exploding population bomb has put the entire country’s future in jeopardy,” said Pakistani columnist Zahid Hussain.

Mr Hussain added “this is a disaster in the making”, with 60 per cent of the population younger than 30, nearly a third of Pakistanis living in poverty and only 58 per cent literate.

Population experts say some of the chief causes of the surge include religious taboo, political timidity and public ignorance, particularly in poorer and rural areas.

Birth control is a far from welcomed amongst communities, and the only family-planning method sanctioned by most Islamic clerics is spacing births by breast-feeding newborns for two years.

Experts estimate that the country’s population could double again by the middle of this century and the effects could be disastrous. They say catastrophic pressures could be put on water and sanitation systems, as well as an immense weight on the health and education services.

There is also a concern that the numbers could leave tens of millions jobless, making the country a target for criminal organizations and terrorist groups.

It is understood that, in response to the results of the census, rather than consider the issue of population, the country’s politicians have begun, instead, an argument over whether certain areas have been over or undercounted, or reclassified as urban instead of rural, in their search for political and financial spoils.

One person trying to offer a new conversation and help the country is Rubina Rehman, a family welfare worker, in Rawalpindi.

“When we first opened this post, women were frightened to come, and some people asked why we were against increasing the ummah [Muslim masses],” Rehman said.

“But we explained how the prophet taught that you should have a gap of 24 months between each child, and that you should consider the family’s resources when making decisions. Now we do not face such opposition.”

The idea of birth control is hugely controversial and taboo across Pakistan, but it seems most certain that if the population surge is to be controlled, then the conversation needs to be introduced and an education on the topic implemented.


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