ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani has said that his government would bring down the population growth rate to 1.
55 per cent per annum in the next five years as it would further improve the poverty ratio in the country.
The Prime Minister was speaking at a World Population Day seminar at the National Population Convention here on Friday.
The seminar was organized by the Ministry of Population Welfare to mark the World Population Day.
This year's theme is "Family planning is a right, let's make it real".
Gilani said that for taking forward the PPP's late Chairperson Benazir Bhutto's visionary leadership, the government is committed to launching the Population Welfare Programme.
Commenting on the theme the Prime Minister said that it was very appropriate as it served to remind us that planning a family was not just a duty but also one of the fundamental rights that every citizen - male or female, needed to exercise in the present-day world.
He said Benazir Bhutto gave a new dimension to the population agenda across the globe.
Her candid and courageous stand on the vital issues, proved to be a beacon of light for family planning programmes in the developing countries, he added.
The Prime Minister opined that the annual net addition of 2.
9 million people was too much and if it continued to go like this it would cause a major gap between the available resources and population and it would eat up all the achievements.
Therefore, strategic planning for population management was among the top most priorities of the government, he said.
Speaking on the occasion, United States Ambassador Anne Peterson appreciated the Pakistan Government's efforts being undertaken to control population explosion.
She opined that the Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey Report offers a solid foundation for making profound changes in the way that people in Pakistan receive health care services.
The PDHS offered an up-to-date and accurate picture of women and children's health in Pakistan, she added.
She said emphasis should be given to mother and child health as according to the Millennium Development Goals, Pakistan was committed to reducing maternal mortality rate by 2015.
She said it was very timely to conduct the PDHS and Population Survey as it was a must to have accurate baseline information in identifying the lapses and in going forward.
Dr Mehboob Sultan from National Institute of Population Statistics shared the key findings of the Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey.
According to the findings, the mother mortality rate is 276 deaths per 200,000 births nationwide with a higher ratio in the rural areas.
He said Pakistan had become the sixth populous country of the world.
The annual growth rate had risen from one per cent in the first three decades of the country to around two per cent in the next three decades after reaching over three per cent in the 1960s.
The country's population is estimated to be double in the year 2045 if it continues to grow at 1.
8 per cent.
Speaking on the occasion, Federal Minster for Population Welfare Mir Humayun Aziz Kurd said the population welfare programme was of great importance for having a sustainable social development.
He vowed to provide family planning facilities to masses at their doorstep.
He said after each day passed the population was swelling as every year 2.
9 million people were added which was a matter of concern.

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 12-Jul-2008 here.