ISLAMABAD Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, Sunday, said the development and economic prosperity of Pakistan depended on implementation of policies for population welfare.
Addressing an award distribution ceremony in connection with World Population Day here on Sunday, he said, All hopes of development and economic prosperity would flounder if we as a nation lose the focus and do not keep population issue in the spotlight.
He said the government was planning to carry out a population census to decide about the distribution of resources of the country.
The Prime Minister declared the year 2011 as Population Year to highlight various issues linked with population and development with focus on involvement of different segments of the society to propagate the benefits of birth spacing for better health of mothers and children in conjunction with the Islamic teachings.
He said two years ago, when the elected government shouldered the responsibility of serving, the country was at the brink of political chaos.
Due to the tragic death of our great visionary leader Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, the nation virtually lost the sense of direction.
Economic deprivation, scarcity of resources, internal strife and terrorism dominated the national scene, he added.
With the support of masses and continued assistance of friends, the government has been able to address the challenges in a befitting manner that now Pakistan is steering ahead towards the path of prosperity, self-reliance and economic well being, Gilani said adding, Our governments policies have helped in confronting on one hand terrorism - the biggest challenge posed to our homelands security and stability and on the other hand, the issue of rising poverty and economic meltdown.
The Prime Minister said that the government was cognizant of the fact that rapid population growth had a direct nexus with poverty.
PPP is the only political party that includes 'Population Planning in its party manifesto, he said adding, the current decade has been quite challenging in terms of financial opportunities given to the Ministry of Population Welfare.
He noted that despite the challenges, Ministry of Population Welfare had been working with full dedication.
My government despite the critical financial crunch has ratified reproductive health as a human right issue at the UN human rights conference at Geneva in June, 2009, he added.
Calling Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Shaheed a visionary leader, he said she had realised population as 'the challenge for Pakistan and recognized the inter-linkages between population and development almost two decades ago.
She represented the Islamic world at the International Conference on Population Development in 1994 at Cairo.
Her vision about womans reproductive rights, which were yet unclaimed and focus on population stabilization was hailed globally.
The Prime Minister appreciated the Ministry of Population Welfare for translating Benazir Bhuttos vision into reality by setting up Safe Mother Homes and Multi-Purpose Service Centers and reaching out to the poorest of the poor in the rural areas.
He stressed the need for out of box solutions and lauded the Ministry of Population Welfare for taking the lead.
Minister for Population Welfare Dr.
Firdous Ashiq Awan and Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Social Sector Shehnaz Wazir Ali also addressed the gathering.
Later, the Prime Minister gave away cash prizes and awards to health service providers, top three position holders in categories of essay writing and slogans and to mediamen for highlighting population welfare issues through print and electronic media.
A documentary and extracts from a speech of Benazir Bhutto were also shown to the audience.

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 12-Jul-2010 here.