HIGH POPULATION GROWTH IN PAKISTAN

  Population growth changes in population over time, and can be quantified as the change in the number of individuals in a population per unit time.

  Population growth which exceeds the carrying capacity of an area or environment results in over population. Conversely, such areas may be considered “under populated” if the population is not large enough to maintain an economic system.[1]

 Globally, the growth rate of the human population has been steadily declining (i.e. population is growing more slowly than in the recent past), but growth remains high in the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa.[2]

 In some countries there is negative population growth (i.e. net decrease in population over time), especially in Central and Eastern Europe (mainly due to low fertility rates) and Southern Africa (due to the high number of HIV-related deaths). Within the next decade, Japan and Western Europe are also expected to encounter negative population growth due to sub-replacement fertility rates.[3]

  The problem of over-population becomes even more serious in context of the developing like Pakistan. The population boom has not only resulted in an economic upheaval in developing countries rather it is also the primary cause of environment degradation. The biological threat of ever increasing population ushered in an era of shortage of safe drinking water, diminishing forest resources, climate change due to depletion of ozone layer among other things. Other forms of environmental pollution associated with population are marine pollution, noise pollution, depletion of lands resources etc. besides these; environmental pollution has also damaged the beauty and serenity of nature.[4]

  The population of Pakistan has grown up from 3 percent per annum since 1983 to 1985, the trend of population shows declining trend from 1984 to onward. And now the total population of Pakistan is 103.4 million as against 152.53 million. Pakistan is the 7th most populace country after crossing Bangladesh and Russia[5] in the world during the last 50 years the population of Pakistan has increased from 33 million to 152.53 million in 2004-05.

According to one estimate, Pakistan’s population will almost double in the next 32 years at the current growth rate of 1.9 percent. Higher population growth supplies more work forces in the market and given the low economic growth in the past, it creates fewer jobs. 

 Thus, it puts pressure on educational and health facilities in the one hand and gives birth to unemployment, land fragmentation, overcrowding, Katchi Abadis, poverty, crime and environmental degradation on the other.[6]

 Pakistan being a developing country also faces the problem of over population. The population increases by the rising pace as compared to the resource which is scares in number. During the last 25 years, cultivable land on Pakistan has increased by 27 percent as compared to 98 percent increase in the population of Pakistan, which results the declining trend in the individual land holdings in Pakistan. Due to a high birthrate urban population will double in the next 20 years causing more and more forests to be cut to make way for humanity. Even now each year, deforestation occurs at the rate of 2.5 percent. This increasing population is a big threat for the Environment of Pakistan. In addition, since only 60 percent of our population has sewerage facility, the remaining 40 percent churn out wastes damaging the environment and causing a lot of diseases. Rising levels of income on the one hand and easy availability of loan/financing on the other has led to an increase in motorization in the country and almost 70 percent of our on-the-road vehicles have outlived their life span and emit un-burnt monoxide gases. In fact, the total number of vehicles in Pakistan emits more noxious fumes in the air as compared to all vehicles in the US. Finally, rapid expansions in the industrial sector have caused the industrial and residential areas to merge causing health hazards for the populations.[7]

 In Pakistan, the population welfare program is one of the oldest in the world, family planning activity having first been undertaken by the private sector in the first half of the 50s, and in the first half of the 60s the first family planning program in the public sector was started under the ministries of health and social welfare. Thereafter, successive five year development plans had made allocations for various population welfare programs. But as the population welfare ministry itself admits on its official website, the population welfare program in Pakistan has not yielded the kind of progress as compared to other countries like Bangladesh and Indonesia.[8]

  This is a shocking fact that Pakistan’s per capita income had increased only five times over last five decades while its GDP had increased 186 times from $20 billion in 1950 to Rs 3,726 billion in 2002. It is very strange that there is a small share in the economic cake as compared to the people.

 The high increase in population in Pakistan has also been accomplished by a large increase in the rate of unemployment. In the three decades between 1970-71 to 2002, the number of employed persons increased by only two times from 18.5 million to 38.3 million, whereas the number of unemployed increased by eight times from 0.4 million in 1970-71 to 3.3 million in 2002.[9]

 The federal government has blamed the lack of progress in the population welfare program of the past decade on the lack of backing from the community due to religious, social and cultural norms of the society, and the low literacy rate among the womenfolk. But this lack of backing from the community is also due in large parts to the failure on the part of the government to overcome the fear of doing something potentially politically unpopular by effectively mobilizing the ministries concerned. NGOs, and the media, are widening the net of coverage and accessibility of family planning services in the country.[10]

 While mortality has been decreasing and fertility has shown a significant decline over the recent years, the crude death rate (CDR) of Pakistan is estimated at 8.2 (Per Thousand) in 2005-06. In Pakistan, decline in mortality rate is due to the elimination of epidemic diseases and improvement in medical services. Despite a considerable decline in the total mortality rate in Pakistan, infant mortality rate has still remained high at 77 per thousand live births in 2005. The major reasons for this high rate of infant and child mortality are diarrhea and pneumonia. Maternal mortality ratio ranges from 350-400 per hundred thousand births per year leading to about seventeen thousand new born babies being born motherless.[11]

 Understanding at the highest political level of the social and economic consequences of high and unrestrained population growth rate is not enough. There is also a need to take a keen interest to specifically focused, targeted and active programs aimed at achieving population replacement level and reducing the population growth rate. Only then can Pakistan, like China, increases its national income per capita, reduce poverty and achieve economically sustainable development.

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1.Population: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
2. Ibid
3. Ibid
4. Economics Survey 2005-06
5. Zaidi, S. Akbar, Issues in Pakistan’s Economy.
6. Economic Survey 2004-05
7. Economic Survey 2005-06
8. Aileen Qaiser, Dawan, 3 January 2005,
9. Ibid
10. Ibid
11. Economics Survey 2005-06

(Muhammad Aamer Shahzad)

 

 

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