In the modern world, the control of population growth within given national resources is viewed a true progress while the unbridled growth of population disproportionate to the available resources, is a regression highlighting backwardness. Unfortunately, we fall in the latter category. The first census in Pakistan was held in 1951, in both parts of the country- East and West Pakistan. The total population stood around 30 million in West Pakistan and in the eastern part it was larger with a ratio of 45% West Pakistan and 55% East Pakistan. 

Nevertheless, about 70 years down the road the population figure of Pakistan (previously West Pakistan) has become larger than the then eastern wing (now Bangladesh). The population is now reported , based on unofficial data of 2017-census, to be around 210 million as compared to the population of Bangladesh which is 160 million. The controlled population growth suggests the meaningful population policy adopted and followed in Bangladesh, during the last 46 years. 

We in Pakistan have not only failed to bring an effective population policy to manage un-checked population growth but unfortunately we are also dishonest for not portraying figures due to vested political interests. The surprising fact is that the overall population figure of Sindh remains unchanged between the census of 1981 and 1998. Syed Ghous Ali Shah, then Chief Minister of Sindh , claimed that three lac people came to Karachi every month from other provinces. Coupled with unusual shifting of population , due to economic reasons in 80s, the traditional factors of early marriages and large families remain the prevalent cause of increased population in Sindh . Now, the population of the province determined in the recent census held after a gap of 19 years is stated to be around 48 million which shows a slight decrease in the overall population percentage compared to the rest of the country, bringing it down to 22.9 percent as against 23+ percent because most people displaced during military operations against militancy in the FATA and KPK found their ultimate destination in the Sindh

The denial in population increase in Sindh hints towards a persisting hegemony of one province, as Punjab is not ready to reduce its influence in the political formation of the state and distribution of resources for both are determined on the basis of official figures of census. Let us hope that rationality would prevail and the Government will take serious measures for an effective population policy envisaging a strategy against unchecked population growth and will ensure the portrayal of honest figures of population province-wise and region-wise! 

ABDUL SAMAD CHANNA,  

Karachi, September 8.