WEB DESK: President Mamnoon Hussain on Thursday said Pakistan’s future lies in its healthy and prosperous nation and called for tackling the issue of population growth on scientific basis in coherence with Islamic teachings. Addressing on National Population Policy here at the Convention Centre, the President said being the sixth populous country in the world, the population growth was a big challenge for Pakistan.
The Conference attracted the stakeholders including representatives of provincial governments, religious leaders and international experts who gathered here to discuss a national policy for population. The President said it was not possible to achieve the sustainable development goals without having proper knowledge about the figures and estimates of current population. He said population and housing census helped distribution of resources effectively, which resulted into provision of facilities related to education and health.
He expressed concern over the rapid increase of the country’s population and suggested to follow the example of Bangladesh which had achieved remarkable success in controlling its population. President Mamnoon Hussain suggested to establish a task force comprising representatives of federal and provincial governments to oversee the progress of population control programme.
He mentioned that other ongoing projects like Benazir Income Support Programme and Lady Health Workers Programme could prove helpful in achieving the goals of population control. He said policies of the government were focused on the uplift of general public, adding the Vision 2025 also emphasised on human development as a first stage of prosperity.
He stressed provision of basic facilities of life to people and urged upon the federal and provincial to support each other in materialisation of projects which were aimed at improving the life of common man. The President mentioned several development projects including the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, operationalisation of Gwadar Port, construction of Gwadar International Airport, motorways and projects of energy. He said those projects did not belong to a single political party and were of national importance.
The President said Diamer Bhasha and Dasu dams were being constructed to overcome the shortage of electricity and expressed hope that loadshedding of power would be ended by year 2018. Azad Jammu Kashmir President Chaudhry Abdul Majeed in his address to the National Population Conference said his government in collaboration with Government of Pakistan was carrying out the population control projects in various areas of AJK.
He mentioned that the employees of population projects in AJK were working on contract basis and requested the President for taking necessary steps for ensuring their financial security. Chief Minister Gilgit-Baltistan Hafiz Hafeezur Rehman stressed for creating more awareness about population health.
He said one current affairs programme on television on daily basis focused on the issue of population growth could sensitise the general public. State Minister for National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination Saira Afzal Tarar in her welcome address said the country’s 19.1 million population was rapidly increasing at the rate of 3.5 percent per annum which was challenging in terms of meeting the available resources.
She said Pakistan Muslim League-N’s manifesto focused on provision of health and education facilities to people across the board, adding the federal government was working in close co-ordination with the provincial governments in carrying out the population control programme. She said the issue of population growth needed to be dealt on emergency basis just like the challenges of terrorism and polio eradication. The minister emphasised that the policy related to population control would be framed in light of Islamic injunctions.
Javed Jabbar, Advisor on Population Control and former Information Minister said the National Population Conference was an important platform for discussing the issue had become challenging for the country. He mentioned that the government of Pakistan had initiated the population control programme some 50 years back, adding it was still not an impossible feat to achieve the goals.
Yuriko Yasukawa, United Nations Fund for Population’s (UNFPA) Regional Director Asia and the Pacific said the universal Agenda 2030 sought to realise the human rights of all, to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. She said it was heartening that Pakistan’s National Development Plan 2025 very much coincided with the Agenda 2030 which had its social and economic dimensions of improving public lives. Julia Bunting, President of Population Council who especially flew in here from New York, highlighted the importance of population control and creating its balance with reproductive and maternal health.