Islamabad - Population situation in Pakistan is alarming as there is a net annual addition of 3.5 million persons in the existing population, presenting a daunting challenge to national efforts of economic development and poverty reduction.

Minister of State National Health Services, Regulation & Coordination Saira Afzal Tarar remarked this while addressing a national seminar on Population Family Welfare in Islamabad.

She said that Pakistan’s current population is estimated at 191 million.

The population growth rate is 1.92 annually. 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. Addition of such a magnitude in the backdrop of low socio-economic indicators not only dilutes the results of developmental efforts but also exerts an unbearable pressure of demand on limited resources to meet the requirements of additional population.

She said it is estimated that population of Pakistan will reach 210 million by 2020. Based on present growth patterns and trends, the country will find it difficult to sustain the rapidly growing population and hardly any improvement in the quality of life seems to 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 planning perspective as well as poverty reduction strategy.

The minister said population situation in Pakistan cannot be improved without a comprehensive programme and strong political commitment. 

Fortunately, she said, the present government has a clear manifesto and it has already taken a bold step of announcing population census for 2016.

She said that after 18th Constitutional Amendment, the subject of population planning has been transferred to the provincial governments. “The Population Welfare Programmes are now being implemented by the respective Provinces. The provinces have framed their own population policies.

Major activities relating to Population Welfare Programme, including advocacy, supply of reproductive health services, technical and managerial training through Regional Training Institutes and Population Welfare Training Institutes and Monitoring and Evaluation are carried out by the Provincial Population Welfare Departments,” she added.

However, she said the federal government continues to provide financial support to provincial population programmes at the level it was providing at the time of devolution.

She said that the role of Federal Ministry of National Health Services now remains limited to National Policy Framework, research and Advocacy, Inter-Provincial Coordination and International Interface. “The fulfillment of international commitments viz-a-viz MDGs, SDGs, FP2020 and other International agreements like ICPD Programme of Action made at UN forums remains the responsibility of the government,” she added.