Call to curb population growth


Speakers called for curbing the population explosion for sustainable development.

Speaking at the sixth meeting of the Parliamentary Population Forum (PFP), organized by the Population Council with the support of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Islamabad to ask national and provincial parliamentary leaders a political support on important population and development issues, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Senator Mushahid Hussain said sustainable population growth is essential to Pakistan’s development and national security is not possible without the human security. He said political parties should leverage the existing cross-party consensus on achieving sustainable population growth in Pakistan and advocate for the inclusion of critical areas of health and family planning in their party manifestos. .

Members of the Senate, legislators from national and provincial assemblies and a regional body from Gilgit-Baltistan representing all major political parties attended the meeting. The Parliamentary Forum on Population is a multi-party platform aimed at raising awareness among parliamentarians on population and development, supporting political engagement of all parties and advocating for population stabilization.

The National Director of the Population Council, Dr Zeba Sathar, highlighted key areas of the Common Interests Council (CCI) action plan on reducing population growth and urged parliamentarians to advocate for resources increased and more effective financial resources at the federal and provincial levels to improve family planning programs. She added that prioritizing population planning through legislation is an effective policy approach to bending the population curve.

UNFPA’s representative in the country, Dr. Bakhtior Kadirov, said the role of parliamentarians is essential in advancing the agenda for the well-being of the people. He presented highlights of UNFPA’s country program in Pakistan, which plans to support federal and provincial governments to build partnerships, promote policies and improve governance to reduce unmet health needs. family planning, reduce preventable maternal deaths and gender-based violence.

Presenting the action plan for the Parliamentary Year on Population, Baluchistan Food Minister Zmarak Khan said members of the Parliamentary Population Forum should initiate parliamentary debates on population, consider the status of implementation of ICC decisions at district and provincial levels to improve family planning programs, advocate for improved finances, and leverage the role of the media to highlight population issues.

Members present endorsed the action plan for 2022 as the parliamentary year of population with a focus on increased funding for reproductive health, improving access to family planning services for women poor and marginalized through voucher programs and the promotion of the new national discourse on population that calls for balancing family size and between population size and resources.

The meeting also featured a panel discussion on the role of legislators in bringing population and development to the political agenda. Moderation of panel dialogue. KP Assembly Deputy Speaker Mahmood Jan said Pakistan could learn from successful family planning programs in neighboring and regional countries. He said parliamentarians must make massive efforts for sustained political commitment to expand access to family planning services through increased investments, strong legislation, and outreach and advocacy on population services.

Baluchistan Assembly Member Sanaullah Baloch said the government must focus on alternative policy strategies to decouple population size from the “three Rs”, namely: representation, resources and income which impede the development of the country to achieve sustainable population growth.

MP Romina Alam insisted on making the case for reducing the alarming population growth by highlighting its cross-sectoral impact on other areas of life, especially water emergencies and food insecurity. She underscored that parliamentarians engage youth in their constituencies and highlighted the need to empower youth through health, skilled education and gainful employment.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 20and2022.