islamabad          -        Balanced population growth is critical for country to achieve sustainable development and put the country on the path of progress, speakers said on Thursday.

This was highlighted at a panel discussion organized by the Population Council on the inaugural day of the 20th Annual Population Research Conference of Population Association of Pakistan. 

The new narrative on population developed by the Population Council through a consultative process was introduced which is based on promoting a rights-based approach. The parents according to the new narrative, have the right to freely and responsibly decide the number and spacing of their children to able to fulfil the fundamental rights of the children by maintaining a balance between their family size and resources. And the government and society have the responsibility to facilitate parents to achieve this balance by providing universal access to family planning information and services, thereby achieving sustainable development

Addressing the audience, Dr. Zafar Mirza, Special Assistant to Prime Minister for National Health Services endorsed the national narrative on population and highlighted the importance of creating a balance between population size and resources.

Reaffirming government’s role in providing quality family planning services to the citizens, Dr. Mirza said the Ministry had piloted a model community welfare centre in Islamabad which will provide comprehensive family planning and health services to the communities.

“The government is providing modern contraceptives through its service delivery network across Pakistan. I urge the provincial and regional governments to integrate family planning services with health services to improve overall quality of life for our people,” he added.

The talk hosted a panel of parliamentarians, senators, civil society and media on the population narrative and impact of rapid population growth on country’s development.

Senator Farhat Ullah Babar, Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed, Senator Mian Muhammad Ateeq Shaikh, Kanwal Shauzab, Parliamentary Secretary Planning Development & Reform, Muhammad Malick, and Ali Moeen Nawazish took part in the discussion.

Senator Farhat Ullah Babar lauded the new narrative and assured Pakistan Peoples Party’s support for the new narrative besides unconditional support for any legislation on these issues in the Parliament.

Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed said that there has been lack of political commitment on the issue of population in Pakistan. Even though there is an overall consensus across party lines on this issue, there is a need to show collective will through supportive legislation to promote family planning.

Senator Mian Muhamad Ateeq Shaikh highlighted the challenges due to ever-increasing population in the urban areas of Sindh and emphasized the need for better urban planning besides sustainable population growth. He also emphasized the need of following footsteps of other Muslim countries like Turkey, Indonesia and Bangladesh as far as population planning is concerned.

Kanwal Shauzab welcomed the new narrative on population and apprised the audience on steps taken by the government to achieve the goal of sustainable population growth.

Dignitaries like Dr. Attiya Inayatullah (S.I), Prof. Dr. Mohammad Nizamuddin (S.I), President Population Association of Pakistan (PAP), Members of National Assembly, Senators, Donors, representatives of UN agencies, diplomats, media and civil society representatives attended the discussion.

The Population Council is an international research and technical organization working in the population and health field. We have worked in Pakistan since 1992 to produce quality research and bring attention and focus on population and health issues.