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President highlights socio-economic challenges related to population growth

ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari has underlined the need to understand the profound impact that rapid population growth had on the socio-economic development of Pakistan and suggested steps to address the related challenges which directly affected the country’s resources.

In a message on the World Population Day, observed on July 11, the president said on this day, they reflected on the critical importance of population dynamics in shaping the nation’s future.

He said population of Pakistan, counted as 241 million (Census 2023), and was growing at a high rate of 2.55 percent and this was projected to reach 263 million by 2030 and 383 million by 2050, the official news agency reported.

“Our young population, which constitutes the majority, is a vibrant and dynamic force that holds immense potential for driving our nation towards prosperity. However, to harness this potential, we must ensure that our youth have access to quality education, healthcare, and employment opportunities which are significantly affected by imbalance between the available resources and the size of our country’s population,” President Secretariat Press Wing, in a press release, quoted the president as saying.

The president said Pakistan faced significant challenges in managing its population growth, which directly affected their resources and public services.

Despite being water-abundant at the time of independence, he said, they were now one of the water-stressed countries in the world; the agricultural land was being converted into housing areas, threatening their food security and consequently affecting the nutritional status of their citizens, especially children.

“This stark reality underscores the urgent need to address population growth through effective family planning and reproductive health services. Our total fertility rate and high maternal and infant mortality rates indicate that we must redouble our efforts to improve healthcare services, particularly for women and children,” he stressed.

By prioritising health and family planning initiatives, President Zardari said they could ensure a healthier, more sustainable future for the nation.

To foster an environment where every Pakistani could succeed, it was crucial to manage population growth by aligning their resources with the population size, he added.

The president said that the new national narrative of ‘Tawazun’ approved by all stakeholders, including the ulema, invites people to practise family planning voluntarily, enabling parents to fulfill the fundamental rights of children.

Achieving ‘Tawazun’ between population and resources ensured genuine prosperity. A well-balanced and sustainable population could drive economic growth, improve living standards, and alleviate poverty, he added.

President Zardari said, “On this World Population Day, I urge all stakeholders, including government bodies, non-governmental organisations, and the private sector, to collaborate in addressing the population challenges we face.”

In this regard, he said, he would like to highlight the critical importance of inclusive data in the realm of family planning.

As they strived to improve health outcomes and empower individuals and communities, it was essential to recognise that data inclusivity was a cornerstone for informed decision-making and effective policy development, he emphasised.

The president said by capturing data that reflected the experiences of different genders, ages, socioeconomic backgrounds, ethnicities, and abilities, they could work towards a future where everyone had equal opportunities to progress.

“In this way, together we can achieve the vision of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Shaheed that she shared with the world community at the International Conference on Population and Development Cairo 1994. She said, ‘I dream of a Pakistan, of an Asia, of a world where every pregnancy is planned and every child conceived is nurtured, loved, educated and supported’,” the president added.

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