Overpopulation must be tackled

Much must be done

Pakistan is going to find its parallels within Robert Malthus’ principle of population about rapid growth of population and its being an impending cause of food insecurity. According to Thomas Robert Malthus, “Population growth is in geometric 2,4,8,16,32 and production of food can only increase arithmetically 1,2,3,4”.

Countries in South Asia are mostly pregnant with multifaceted dangers that hinders their progress and development in a fast-changing world. Such dangers include overpopulation, malnutrition, starvation, economic imbalance and unavailability of basic facilities. Countries that share contagious problems like these are India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. The problems are easy to diagnose but hard to surmount because they will need a holistic approach.

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Population is one of the rising issues in Pakistan. Pakistan is now the fifth most populous country in the world. According to United Nation World Population Prospects 2019, Pakistan’s population is projected to reach 262.96 million in 2030 and increase further to 338.01 million in 2050 and 403.10 million by 2100. This means there will be an overwhelming increase in population with no rational and care-oriented strategy to deal with it.

Most people thins that overpopulation is a blessing but it is probably not because it is a sign of worry for the state of the economy. As far as social and economic indicators are concerned, most people are devoid of basic rights and utilities like education, jobs and proper health care. Overpopulation is a menace which causes water scarcity and malnutrition,

According to Global fertility rate 2022, Pakistan has a fertility rate of 3.4 births per woman, which  means the population of Pakistan is mushrooming by 53 million annually. Afghanistan, the war-torn country, has 3.991 births per woman and India has 2.51.

There are various causes and remedial measures of overpopulation in Pakistan.

Firstly, there is a crucial role of clerics. Their alarming clerical interpretation of increasing the Ummah, expressed in Friday sermons, is worth mentioning. Due to misinterpretation of religion by a multitude of scholars, people believe that population control is sinful. The mosque prayer leaders can introduce religion as a social agency to create awareness about the population explosion. It can truly convey that Islam focuses on accountability -tending of children, their well-being and proper growth, which should also be considered during breeding. Through a gradual process, during Friday sermons, religious authorities can construct collective consciousness to breed less and nurture efficiently.

To ease the suffering of the country, already on the brink of economic collapse, is everyone’s civic and moral duty. Overpopulation is a burden which causes imbalance in standard of living, employment and prosperity which further leads to felony, deviance, anomalies and crime. So, a country with too much population is like an overcrowded boat; bound to sink.

Secondly, lack of awareness of repercussions of population due to illiteracy. The country’s literacy rate is almost 58 percent. Due to illiteracy, people can’t comprehend that the country can’t afford a high birth rate. The problem can be surmounted through an awareness campaign on social media which is the strongest source; awareness teams with proper guidance regarding population explosion must be sent government of Pakistan immediately across the country.

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Thirdly, unavailability and high taxes of contraceptive pills. People cannot buy costly pills due to economic constraints. Their unavailability and high taxes is sheer inefficiency of the government. They should be facilitated for people with guidance of proper use. Contraceptive pills should bear low taxes.

Fourthly, the main cause of population explosion is early marriage. Due to immaturity, young couples are unaware of sex education; the responsibilities of children; consequences arises from huge families for both the country and hem. Strict implementation of family planning is the major remedy for this issue. Government through female health workers can introduce family planning and use of contraceptive pills to persuade people to limit their child birth.

Fifthly, mostly in rural areas, people are vying for the birth of a male child. Due to the patriarchal and misogyny-dominated population, the birth of a male is a sign of pride, honour and strength and being female is a curse and debt to be paid when time comes. In such an atmosphere, many sections of society place a premium on boys’ education, while girls are expected to take up domestic responsibilities

Daughters seem to be as a burden or debt to be paid and sons are commonly perceived as the support system of the family. However, man enjoys ultimate power to halt or increase the number of children. This notion needs to be debunked because it has belittled and degraded the female gender and its role. We as a progressive society should yearn for gender equality and avoid trespassing on the rights of women.

The effects of over-population are easily seen; The population explosion may wreck havoc and cause famine as we witnessed in history. Recall the 1943 Bengal famine which engulfed up to three million people for their over-population. Winston Churchill has been quoted as blaming the famine on the fact Indians were “breeding like rabbits’ ‘.

The rise in population leads to higher demand for water for domestic, industrial, agricultural and municipal needs and also evacuation for waste materials. According to reports of Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE), Pakistan ranks 14 out of 17 “extremely high water risk” countries in the world, as the country wastes one-third of water available. More than 80 percent of the country’s population faces “severe water scarcity.” Around 40 percent of water in Pakistan is lost due to spillage, seepage, side leakage, and bank cuttings along with irregular profiling of alignment of banks. Saving water through different techniques would be the panacea of the water crisis.

The incremental growth is endangering their lives as well as others because of lack of subsistence. The population growth has outnumbered the resources that existed in the status quo. Paraphrasing Robert Malthus, population growth in Pakistan is arithmetical, sources of subsistence growth is geometrical. Food consumption and production are huge problems.

Due to over population and meagre job opportunities, a large number of people remain unemployed and extinct themselves dreadfully. Their life is mostly preoccupied by a sense of desperation and anxiety. Due to low economic status they vent their frustration outwards; blaming external matters for their deprivation and dejection. They resort to the last option and try to commit suicide. It is necessary to enhance technological development by introducing freelancing as an online marketing source in which a person can work as a virtual assistant, graphic designer and so on. According to Pakistan Software Export Board’s reports, Pakistani freelancers earned $150 million in 2019-20 which lead to Pakistan being fourth in the finances market above India and Bangladesh.

Population growth is the primary cause of social evil. Picture a person unable to feed his family of many members, due to meagre resources and high inflation. He will use illegal means to meet the ends of the family. Subsequently, his children will adopt the source of income he did because assertion made by Will Durant in the book Fallen Leaves: Last Words on Life, Love, War, and God seems pto fit the case: “Our children bring us up by showing us, imitating us, what we really are”. Job opportunities in profusion is the only remedy for have-nots to make ends meet.

To ease the suffering of the country, already on the brink of economic collapse, is everyone’s civic and moral duty. Overpopulation is a burden which causes imbalance in standard of living, employment and prosperity which further leads to felony, deviance, anomalies and crime. So, a country with too much population is like an overcrowded boat; bound to sink.

Sami Ullah Kakar
Sami Ullah Kakar
The writer is a freelance columnist


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