Curbing Overpopulation

In a bold move, the Council of Common Interests (CCI) has brought up one of the biggest menaces faced by Pakistan today- overpopulation. The rapidly increasing population ratio at an estimated 2.4 percent, according to the alarming results of the 2017 census and prompted CCI to deliberate upon establishing a population control system similar to more successful neighbours, like Iran or China.

International introspection serve important lessons; in the 1980, Iran and China were predicted to have the highest population rates by 2010 but the growth level saw a sharp decrease in both countries; whereas Pakistan, due to lax government attitude and social norms, saw a burdensome increase, and has entered the rank of being the 13th most populated country in the world.

It is commendable of CCI to take up such an important issue and contemplate such strong measures, one of which is to impose tax on couples for violation of the proposed family planning formula, similar to China’s “one-child” policy, which became two-child after 2015. A CCI member recommended a one-child policy for urban and two for rural areas. While this policy was successful for China, it brought a hoard of other problems with it, such as an increase in infanticide, desertion of female babies and a disproportionate gender ratio. Enacting such a policy in a socially conservative Pakistan, where in the 1980s, family planning was pushed as unislamic, seems liable to be ineffective and impractical.

While the tax is up for debate, the government can do so many other easier things to control the population explosion. Some of these solutions consist of bringing back the contraceptive and family planning campaigns. A blow to population control was the advocating of it as “unislamic”-the majority of families resist family planning as they view it as against God’s natural right. Pakistan could look to Iran, where the government “declared that Islam favored families with only two children” to overcome the stigma.

The reforms cannot be limited to just tax- there need to be sex education early on to spread awareness on the dangers and prevention of early childbirth. A change in conversation needs to come in the health industry as well- doctors should be instructed to advise couples against too many children, as well access to cheap and safe vasectomies, a practice that was effective in India.

Overpopulation is the “mother” of all problems-and can only be curtailed with a concentrated effort, done with sincerity and diligence if actual difference is to be made.

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