Syed Kamal Shah
It is a matter of encouragement that in post Devolution 2010 scenario the provincial governments are exhibiting greater priority and ownership to population dynamics of the country. The provincial governments have finalized and launched their respective post Devolution Population Policies/Health Sector Strategies incorporating main elements required to stabilize the high population growth rate. These policies/strategies are based on the principle that engagement of all segments of society including women, children, youth and men is a pre-requisite to stabilize the population growth rate while enhancing the school enrollment rate especially for girls, increasing the CPR, controlling MMR & IMR and bridging the gender disparities. It is also encouraging that Sindh and Khyber Pukhtoonkhawa Governments have finalized and launched the Costed Implementation Plan (CIP) for Population Welfare Department, envisioning a clear resource allocation roadmap to improve its population development indicators in line with FP 2020 and SDGs commitments, where as that of Punjab Government is in draft form and the Balochistan government shall soon start the Process. We are also extremely appreciative of the initiation of the long awaited population census which is expected to be available by August 2017.
On the other hand comparing the population issue of Muslim countries, Pakistan is amongst the highest population growth rate with 1.89 percent, leaving behind Bangladesh, Indonesia, Iran, Turkey, Morocco, Egypt and Malaysia at a growth rate between 1.2 to 1.6 per cent. Every year, 3.7 million people are being added to Pakistan’s population and if the population growth rate does not slow down, it will outpace Indonesia by 2030 as the country with the largest Muslim population. The population of Pakistan was 33 million in 1950 and its rank was 14th in the world. Today, it has reached around 194.5 million making Pakistan 6th most populous country of the world. With the current population growth rate Pakistan is on the verge of becoming the 5th most populous country.
We are also encouraged that various international commitments including International Conference on Population Development (ICPD), Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Convention to Eliminate Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), FP 2020, SDGs etc. have been aligned in various national and provincial policies and plans including national Vision 2025, Provincial Population Polices 2016, Costed Implementation Plan (CIP), Punjab Government Women Protection bill etc. besides the National Census 2017 would provide accurate data for better planning and its implementation. These local developments indicate that our long struggle for the social well-being has started to pay off.