“Sustainable population growth is at the heart of Pakistan’s development”

Islamabad: People are at the center of all national development and national security is not possible without human security. Political parties should build on the existing cross-party consensus to achieve sustainable population growth in Pakistan and advocate for the inclusion of the critical areas of health and family planning in their party manifestos.

This was stated by Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed during the sixth meeting of the Parliamentary Population Forum (PFP). The Population Council, with the support of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), organized the meeting in Islamabad to call on national and provincial parliamentary leaders to provide political support on important population and development issues.

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

In her welcoming remarks, Dr. Zeba Sathar, National Director of the Population Council, highlighted the main areas of the Common Interests Council (CCI) action plan on reducing population growth and urged parliamentarians to advocate for 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 Country Representative Dr. Bakhtior Kadirov said the role of parliamentarians is critical in advancing the agenda of people’s well-being.

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, Zmarak Khan, Minister of Food of Balochistan, said members of the Parliamentary Population Forum should initiate parliamentary debates on population, examine the state implementing 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 systems and the promotion of the new national population narrative that calls for striking a balance between family size and between population size and resources.

Moderating the panel dialogue, Mahmood Jan, Deputy Speaker of the KP Assembly, said Pakistan could learn from successful family planning programs from neighboring and regional countries. He said parliamentarians must make a massive effort for sustained political commitment to expand access to family planning services through increased investments, strong legislation, and awareness and advocacy on family planning services. population.

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, that prevent the country’s development from achieving sustainable population growth.

MP Romina Alam emphasized the case for reducing the alarming population growth highlighting its cross-sectoral impact on other areas of life, especially the water emergency and food insecurity. She encouraged parliamentarians to engage young people in their constituencies and emphasized youth empowerment through health, skilled education and gainful employment.