Islamabad - President Mamnoon Hussain has called for establishing a task force having representation of national leadership and all the provinces to address the issue of rapid population growth confronting the country.

He suggested the task force should meet after every six months to review the progress made in the matter. The President said this while addressing the National Population Summit 2015 here at Convention Centre yesterday. The two-day summit “Putting People First in Pakistan’s Development Agenda” has been organised by the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination, Ministry of Planning and Development and Reforms and the Population Council.

The objective of the gathering is to draw consensus across political parties, religious divisions and across the provincial and federal leadership to deal with Pakistan’s population issues loom large in terms of the balance of 188 million with limited resources and rapid growth eroding development gains. The Population Summit 2015 is being attended by about 500 delegates from across Pakistan and about 25-30 international participants to arrive at a National Consensus Statement on Population and Development as unlike Bangladesh, a model success story, population has never been declared a national priority.

At the inaugural session, the President Mamnoon Hussain said that Pakistan is going through an unprecedented demographic shift as rapid population growth is a major problem confronting the country. “Our bright future depends on healthy, educated, safe and prosperous Pakistan where the rights of every citizen are fully protected under the law.”

The President said that the people are the source of strength of the government’s current policies and national narrative on population and that is the reason that in Vision 2025 peoples’ progress has been declared the primary pillar for attaining national progress. In this regard, first priority is to focus on literacy and empowerment of women.

The President noted that with the right approach towards the population issue Pakistan will be able to contain the problem and fulfil its promises made with the international community in this regard. “I want that by 2020 we should make at least 50 percent progress in the matter,” remarked the President. 

He said that overpopulation adds to the burden on the scarce resources, which makes it difficult for the country to look after its citizenry.

Population situation in Pakistan is alarming, stated Minister of State for National Health Services, Regulations & Coordination Saira Afzal Tarar. Pakistan’s current population is estimated at 191 million, she said, and it is estimated that, population of Pakistan will reach 210 million by the year 2020.

“The population growth rate is 1.92 percent per annum. This means a net annual addition of 3.5 million persons in the existing population. This scenario presents a daunting challenge to national efforts of economic development and poverty reduction,” she said. Addition of such a magnitude in the backdrop of low socio-economic indicators not only dilutes the results of the developmental efforts but also exerts an unbearable pressure of demand on limited resources, said the minister.

The minister said Based on present growth patterns and trends, hardly any improvement in the quality of life would be possible even under the most favorable assumptions. “This trend is, therefore, a matter of deep national concern and becomes a central issue in the overall development planning perspective as well as poverty reduction strategy.”

Chief Minister Gilgit-Baltistan Hafiz Hafeez-ur-Rehman, Prime Minister Azad Jammu & Kashmir Chaudhry Abdul Majeed, Regional Director UNFPA Asia and Pacific Regional Office Bangkok, Yoriko Yasukawa, and Julia Bunting,

President Population Council, USA, also addressed the population summit.   The summit was attended, among others, by parliamentarians, diplomats and high government officials.