The perils of a runaway population are well known. Balochistan has been increasing with 3.37% which is a large number as compare with other three provinces, is often described as a ticking time bomb in this respect. Indeed, we are already witnessing the fallout of a piecemeal, half-baked approach to population planning over the decades.
Chief Minister Balochistan Jam Kamal Khan Aliyani has said, burgeoning population has been declining provincial resources because we must have to pursue new policies based on population. He shared these views while chairing a meeting to review provincial government’s policies following increasing population in Balochistan under Federal Task Force for Population, “Unfortunately previous regimes didn’t pay much attention over this vital issues declining provincial resources but time has come that we should unveil an effective policy in order to control population.
”Jam Kamal stressed upon religious scholars to play their vital role in order to aware masses regarding effects of burgeoning population, “Being provincial government we need to unveil an effective policy to control population.” CM Balochistan lamented over lack of awareness among mases regarding birth control added due to illiteracy mother and new born children’s health at stake of jeopardy.
Earlier, in 2017 census shows the lowest intercensal population growth of 2.13 per cent in Punjab, down from the previous intercensal growth of 2.64 per cent. The increase is higher for Sindh at 2.41 per cent against 2.80 per cent in the previous intercensal period. A still higher increase of 2.89 per cent occurred in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa against 2.82 per cent between 1981 and 1998. Balochistan shows the highest growth of 3.37 per cent against the previous intercensal growth of 2.47 per cent. Does the better performance in Punjab and the poor performance in other provinces have anything to do with the effectiveness or otherwise of the population programmes? Balochistan has the lowest mCPR (13.8 per cent), which is consistent with a high population growth. Sindh falls in the middle with an mCPR of 25.0 per cent.
The concept of child spacing is almost non-existent in Balochistan. Among many other factors desire for male children, desire for increasing the earning hands, and desire for tribal prestige are also factors that increase the household size. This unplanned increase in the population leads many children malnourished, ill taught and prone to mortality. If by chance, the children survive, many get entangled in the criminal maize, poverty and a diseased population, multiplying problems not only for the parents but also for the society.
Under such critical situation one only hopes that the quarters concerned and all the stake holders rise to the occasion to bring a change for good. On the contrary, It may also be argued that Pakistan has to face a high cost for inaction by not keeping a check on population growth. At an annual growth of 2.4 percent, Pakistan has the slowest demographic transition in the region as the use of contraceptives has dropped to 34 percent compared to 77 percent in Iran, 68 percent in Sri Lanka and 62 percent in Bangladesh.
The conservative attitudes are cited as a major obstacle to family planning in Balochistan, resulting in stop-start campaigns, and tentative, even obtuse, attempts at raising awareness that leave the target audience none the wiser. However, this is a misleading argument that diverts attention from the apathy and lack of planning by successive governments. After all, Iran has successfully brought down its fertility rate, not in spite of, but with the support of its powerful clergy. Indeed, the importance of government-sponsored information campaigns and family planning services cannot be overstated.
Fertility rates in Bangladesh, for instance, start declining from decades ago even in poor, rural areas due to the state’s active involvement. The BAP government, with its emphasis on social upliftment, must accord population control the priority it deserves.