10 Aug

      The Population Bomb :

Introduction :

Unbridled population growth is one of the biggest challenges in today's Pakistan. Yet, there are no credible attempts at any level in Pakistan to tackle the issues posed by a rising population. From an economic, environmental and develonnvelopment perspective, our population is growing at an untenable rate.

Successive governments in Pakistan never recognised the growing population as a serious question at all. The population crisjs in our society is mostly viewed in a narrow sense even though the subject warrants a much broader understanding

Pakistan's Population in 1947 was 34.4 million which has increased to 207.800 million according to the provisional figures of the 2017 census. The Cumulative Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) which was 2.69 percent for 17 years from 1981-1998, slowed down with a marginal 0.29 percent in 19 years to 2.40 percent in 2016. If this trend continues, the calculation on the population of Pakistan shall be anything between 359 million to 371 million by 2050.

The Economic Survey of Pakistan. 2010-11, estimated the population growth rate at 2.10 percent which increased to 2.56 percent in the 2011-12 survey and then reduced to 1.58 percent in the 2012-13 Economic Survey. This indicates the lack of detailed calculations of government officials estimating the national population.

According to US census bureau 

In 1960 world population was about 3 billion

In 2000  world population was about 6 billion

In 2022 the world population was 7.8 billion 

The world population will be crossing 9 billion up to the year 2048.

The world population is increasing continuously there is no bend in graph.

     Pakistan's Population Growth

Pakistan's population growth rate is at a staggering 2.4% that is at least double of other regional countries like India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. Pakistan being one of the high-fertility countries with a large proportion of young adults and childrerdren had a population of 33 million in 1950 and its rank was 14th in the world but today, its population has reached around 210 million making Pakistan 5th most populous country of the world, after China, India, USA, Indonesia, and surpassed Brazil, Japan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, South Korea, Russia etc.

     Pakistan's Rank

In terms of land area Pakistan is 34th and shares 0.6% of the world area and in terms of the Human Development Index, it has 150th position in the world. Each family in Pakistan on average has 3.1 children.

     Pakistan's Population: Serious Challenge to the Socioeconomic Stability and Security

With abysmal human development indicators, this population explosion presents a most serious challengeto the socioeconomic stability and security of this country. With 60-65pc of the population under the age of 30 and fewer job opportunities, it is a disaster in the making. What is most worrisome is that this population explosion and its implications have drawn little attention from the political leadership that is engaged in a fierce power struggle.

Despite the gravity of the situation, the issue has hardly figured in the national discourse. It is not surprising that the decennial population count, a constitutional obligation, was delayed by almost two decades and was held only on the intervention of the apex court.

The whole world is in the grip of overpopulation. It has crossed the seven billion mark. After terrorism the population explosion can be called the biggest problem the world is facing today. Every day, we come across the often repeated phrase, "Population Bomb is ticking". Pakistan is facing a formidable challenge of tackling the issues of economic development and poverty reduction.

If the population of the country continues to grow with the same rate i.e. 2.4%, it is likely to double in next 37 years, making Pakistan 3rd most populous country of the world; whereas land area will remain the same rather will be reduced due to residential plans.

Major factors responsible for high population growth in Pakistan are high fertility, low contraceptive prevalence , high unmet need of family planning, declining mortality,  custom of early marriages, son preference, poverty, illiteracy especially of women and lack of women empowerment, religious constraints, beliefs, customs, traditions and lack of recreational activities.

     Failure of the Government's Population Planning Policies

Failure of proper implementation of the government's population planning policies is the major cause of population growth as our contraceptive prevalence rate instead of increasing is decreasing and at present, it is 30-35%.

Another reason is that government did not have a monitoring system in place to regulate health centers or keep records of the population growth despite the fact that population welfare programme of Pakistan is one of the oldest in the world but it has not yielded the kind of progress as compared to other countries like Bangladesh and Indonesia.

Successive governments have ignored this vital issue while opposition parties of the past and present have not bothercd to highlight it much either and have rather focused on the more mainstream kosher topics like loạd-Shedding, corruption ete. And that is where the problem lies: starting the conversation, which due to social and  religious taboos has become unnecessarily impossible.

But it is not as if Pakistan is the only Muslim majority country in the world with a population explosion problem. Iran and Bangladesh managed to keep happy their most conservative ultra-right religious factions by including them in the process and providing incentives to get the job done. It is very much achievable as long as the will to do it is there.

Unfortunately, the public sector outlay on education is so little and reforms in education so low on the list of the government's priorities that the battle seems a losing one. Yes, such macro, structural changes will come with time but there are measures that can be taken now. Free distribution of contraceptives, ,increased access to sterilization and edicts from religious leaders is doable given the right amount of government/institutional backing is provided.

Otherwise, if this already out of hand growth rate is allowed to increase further then sustainable economic growth will remain little more than a pipe dream. Remarkably, while so many parts of the world have seen a reduction in fertility rates and population growth, Pakistan's growth rate has increased. Pakistan's fertility rate is among the highest in the region. Indeed, this is a scary situation. But is anyone bothered?

Agriculture Sector has been affected by the Rapid Inerease of Population

Agriculture is another sector, which has been advesely affected by the rapid increase of population. About 70% of Pakistan's population relies on the agricultural sector, Overpopulation is even having an adverse effect on the agriculture outcome. More population means smaller farms and that leads to a decline in productivity. The same would happen with the forests and also with the availability of fresh water. We are already a water-stressed country with no big dams and water reservoirs.

Pakistan will have to reduce its current population growth rate to half in the next 30 years to achieve the status of a high middle-income country, as the current pace of increase in population is a barrier to becoming a prosperous nation.

For the next 30 years, there are two possible pathways for Pakistan's economy and two different futures, he added. The recent population census revealed a number of 210 million. If we project that to 2047, then Pakistan's population will be 405 million people, he added.


The following  are the recommendations for the government to defuse the population bomb; firstly, the government should focus on two children legislation and those who violate it, they will have to pay taxes accordingly. Age of marriage for both male and female should be revised.

The female minimum age must be 22 years and male minimum age must be 25 years. Moreover, lessons or chapters on overpopulation and population control should be part of the syllabus from class one till college  and universities. All those policies through which parents are rewarded economically and financially based on the number of children they have, need to be stopped. Provide access to safe and secure contraceptive options for both male and female , family planning should start from grassroots level and it must be strategic and visionary

  • Family planning facilities be made a part of health facilities.
  • There should be a greater role for local and provincial governments.
  • Role of NGOS and doctors in the disbursement of Aid received for family planning should be increased.
  • Males should be urged to cooperate more.
  • Status of women be raised in society by providing more economic opportunities
  • Better health and educational facilities be provided for women.
  • The issue to be taken as a national crisis.
  •  Role of media be encouraged especially in rural areas.
  • Government programs should involve Ulemas and NGOS
  • Greater participation of landlords.
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