ISLAMABAD-Senators on Wednesday stressed that population is a national issue and a balanced growth is required to ensure country’s progress towards sustainable development.

This was unanimously agreed by the Senators from across parties in a consultative dialogue on meeting Pakistan’s population challenge, hosted by the Population Council in Islamabad with the support of United Nations Population Fund.

Senators were engaged in a constructive dialogue and expressed their enthusiastic support for stronger legislation to support for the right of couples to use contraception.

In the light of the latest resolution moved by Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed on the alarming rate of population growth, participating members of the Senate made several constructive proposals and thoughtful observations on aspects of promoting balanced family size.

Senators emphasised population is a critical national issue that requires immediate attention. It is important to address misperceptions amongst citizens that hinder uptake of family health services.

Dr. Zeba Sathar, Country Director, Population Council cited current fertility trends of Pakistan and highlighted the cross-sectoral impact of population growth on country’s development indicators.

“Six million Pakistani couples are unable to exercise their right to plan their families due to lack of access to family planning services. If Pakistan was closer to fertility levels of the rest of the region, it could have saved thousands of mothers from dying, would only have 1.6 million out-of-school children, and have 40 million fewer Pakistanis living in poverty,” she said.

Speaking at the occasion, Professor Dr. Qibla Ayaz, Chairman, Council of Islamic Ideology Pakistan said the new national narrative of maintaining a balance between family size and resources conforms to the Islamic teachings of responsible parenthood, the rights of child and birth spacing for the ensuring healthy mother and children.