Overpopulation, a catastrophe in making

The world’s population has reached eight billion and half of the people that made up the increase from seven billion in 2011 to eight billion now are from Asia. According to a recent report by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), Pakistan is home to almost 3 percent of the world’s population with an average annual growth rate of 1.9 percent. The report revealed that Pakistan is among the eight countries where more than half of the increase in global population leading up to 2050 will be concentrated. These countries include the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Pakistan, Nigeria, the Philippines, and the United Republic of Tanzania.

The world human population has increased at a high rate, marking 8 billion human beings in this universe, which is undoubtedly beyond the earth’s sustainable capacity. Although the global family of eight billion has come a long way in terms of welfare and development with better health systems, less poverty, and fewer maternal deaths, but the progress made by mankind over the past centuries had been limited to a few particular regions and privileged societies across the world, while the dividends of industrial and agricultural development and technological advancements couldn’t be enjoyed by the entire humanity in the planet. Historically, the influx of population remained high in less developed and resource-deficient countries while the high growth rate and careless consumption of resources in rich nations exacerbated the food and water shortage, reducing the resilience in the face of sharply worsening climate change for the already disadvantaged communities in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

Pakistan’s population is growing at a high rate causing tremendous challenges at a similar pace for the nation and the government. Like other developing countries in the world, Pakistan is also battling the negative consequences of its high population growth rate leading to poverty, illiteracy, a low standard of living, insufficient health facilities, and a vicious cycle of miseries, social crimes, and injustice. Realistically, it is not a matter of more or fewer numbers but more and equal access to opportunities for the people including the elimination of poverty, provision of employment and health facilities, food secuirty as well as the socio-economic development of the masses to provide a prosperous and peaceful high-quality life. Hence, all third-world countries with weak economies and high population rates are unable to satisfy the basic needs of their masses in the contemporary world. The UNFPA and global think tanks had warned Pakistan about the grave challenges likely to confront the nation in the coming decades if the country fails to bring pivotal change in its demographic outlook. According to reports, Pakistan’s population would double in the next thirty years, which would be another catastrophe for the climate-hit, resource-deficient, and economically weak nation. The government of Pakistan launched its first population policy about two decades ago, however, the country could make nominal progress in reducing in growth rate from 2.3% to 1.9 % over the past 20 years.

Over the years, Pakistani leaders remained limited to ceremonial lip service on the issue and played a criminal role in making a future tragedy. The country could not afford such negligence anymore. There is an urgent need to take stringent steps including strict legislative and administrative measures, social mobilization, and awareness campaigns to sensitize the public about the worst effects of overpopulation’s, a potential population bomb could be defused timely.