As we mark another World Population Day, Pakistan fares disappointingly, leading in population growth rate with 1.89 per cent, leaving behind Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Egypt. The population growth rate is showing no indication of slowing down as 3.7 million people are being added to the Pakistani population every year. If the current situation remains unchanged, Pakistan will face major challenges in the future as it is already buckling under the strain of a sizeable growing population and inadequate resources to sustain it.

A staggering 24 million children in Pakistan remain out of schools while the state is unable to provide schools, teachers and facilities for this growing number. Access to health care for all remains a distant dream while a looming water crisis threatens all major cities of Pakistan let alone rural areas. The CM promises complete enrollment of children in two years while the PM promise an end to the energy crisis by 2018, but a rapid population growth rate will make all ‘solutions’ to these problems obsolete by the time these promises are fulfilled.

Increasing problems of urbanisation, sewage, sanitation, increase in unemployment, food security, climate change, overcrowding and congestion in households, squatter settlements, poverty are all bound to effect the economic and social development of the country hence it is pertinent that the government prioritises population control.

It is clear that population control drives being carried out in the country are not producing the desired effect. Stricter laws have been introduced on increasing the legal age for marriage and this is certainly a step in the right direction. But a lot needs to be done to appeal to revoke the deep-seated traditional and cultural beliefs that causes families to continue to reproduce without fear of repercussions. Given the right incentives, and targeting the more vulnerable segment of the people, the government can begin to change this alarming situation. Hopefully this will be done sooner than later.