Call for commission to regulate birth control.
They were speaking at the concluding session of a two-day conference, “Pakistan’s population: new realities and challenges for human development,” organised by the Population Council of Pakistan (PCP) in collaboration with the National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) on Friday.
The speakers urged the government to make concerted efforts to deal with the population issue confronting the country by investing more resources in delivering family planning services.
They said that there was a need for revitalisation and repositioning of the Family Planning Programme and introducing the concept of birth spacing to safeguard maternal, neonatal and child health.
PAP President Shahnaz Wazir Ali said, “The country is passing through a demographic transition, we need to tap in to this (demographic) dividend as more and more young people enter the workforce.”
Wazir warned that if the youth was not educated and remained unemployable and if fertility rates were not significantly reduced, the country’s problems would multiply with serious implications for the economy, stability, peace and internal cohesion of the country.
NUST Principal Dr Ashfaq Hassan Khan said the pool of unemployed has been rising due to the rapidly growing population. “Our country cannot afford more unemployment. We are talking about demographic dividend but this is a demographic disaster which we are we facing currently.”
Minister of State for National Health Services Regulations and Coordination Saira Afzal Tarar said that the conference recommendations have given a clarion call for action. “There can be no better plan for the future than to invest in our youth to create a force against extremis.”
A plenary session, “Interface between media, civil society and religious leaders on family planning,” was also part of the concluding session.
Prof. Izharul Haq, Dr Khalid Masood, Mufti Muneebur Rehman, expressed their views in light of Islamic perspective on family planning. They said that family planning did not mean killing of children but to plan in a way where parents could bear all expenses for their education, health, moral and ethical upbringing.
“The Quran also suggests that a child be suckled for two years. Thus indirectly the Quran suggests spacing out children,” said Prof. Izharul Haq.
Former information minister and writer Javaid Jabbar said recent evidence showed that most women in Pakistan wanted to determine their family size.
Women’s rights activist Khawar Mumtaz said, “We need to give the population issue the same importance that we attach to other core issues such as the energy crisis, law and order situation and defence”.