The Menace of Over-Population – Asad Ameer

Over-population is the biggest challenge of today world. The most vulnerable to this portent are the countries which are developing and under-developed. Various countries have taken growing population as a challenge and successfully controlled the menace, but many still overlook the point and are badly suffering. Pakistan is also the biggest victim of over-population, the fifth most populous country in the world. But, the authorities and concerned institutions are underestimating the situation. Our negligence to recognize the mess is further deteriorating the situation day-by-day. The combined population of east and West Pakistan at the time of first population census in 1951 was 75 million. West Pakistan share was 33.7 million; the same is 207.8 million now according to the population census of 2017. We added 174 million people during the past 68 years, with one of the highest growth rate of 2.6% in the world.

Multiple factors are responsible for our forbearance. Owing to the less per capita income of 1629$ and poor the growth rate of 5.1%. A trend has prevailed that, the more children you have, the great chances of economically stable family. The strength of male children is considered as an instrument of social empowerment as well as old age security. People do not have sufficient awareness regarding the family planning. The contraception techniques are conventional and in many cases even not available. Reportedly 0.5 to 0.8 million unwanted babies are born every year. Misinterpretations of the religious beliefs are hurting the birth-control drives rapidly. Lack of social activities and community engagement forums are further worsening the conditions. The risks of violent conflicts highly rise today, because a surging youth population cannot find productive employment opportunities.

To manage the status quo effectively, extraordinary arrangements are required by the state and various community networks:
1. An organized awareness mechanism is required on an emergency basis.
2. A strong counter-narrative by the religious scholars to define the difference between contraception and abortion for the greater interest of society is required. Birth control in no way can be compared with infanticide.
3. The introduction of birth control fund is another way forward. State support in various fields of life will attract the parents to consider population planning seriously.
4. Eugenics test should be compulsory to minimize infant mortality.
5. Internationally recognized avoidance medicines should be free of cost and in public domain. Every medical and departmental store should have the stock of contraceptive articles.
6. It is important to empower women.
7. Government should pursue an agenda to promulgate a population policy. This is a tough job in a society like ours, but with effective groundwork the desired result can be achieved.
8. Re-activation of Health Ministry is also important to make a fresh start; especially the population department should be given tasks and assignments to fulfill the same in time.

This alarmingly increased population has had a profound impact not only on the standard of living of the people but on the national morale as well. The much preferred to believe that the poor were poor because of too many children rather than being poor because of an unfair and unequal economic system. Unsustainable human population growth is also a potential disaster for nature; a rise in the number of vehicles and industries have badly affected the quality of air and an increase in the amount of CO2 emissions leads to global warming. Melting of polar ice caps, changing climate patterns, the rise in sea level are the real hazards of over-population. The present pace of population will lead to a doubling of the Pakistan urban areas by 2060. That means the cities will expand from 3 to 6 percent of the landmasses. It also means that 10 to 15 percent of lands farmed today would be taken out of production. If the present trend of population growth continues for two or three more decades. The already over-burdened agricultural economy will cease to feed the outpace numbers.

The author is a Lahore based lawyer and has a keen interest in International law and Politics. He can be reached at: asadali141@gmail.com. The author takes sole and full responsibility of the statistical data and content. The views and opinions are his own. LEARN takes no responsibility for the accuracy of this work.

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