Population, not politics, threatens Pakistan
While the politicians fight each other in Islamabad for control of Pakistan, they make no mention in their fiery speeches of the real crisis likely to stunt prosperity for generations. According to economists and demographers, the explosion that endangers Pakistan is not political but demographic.
At independence in 1947, there were 33m Pakistanis. Today there are about 200m, making the nation the sixth most populous in the world. By 2050, the population will reach 302m, if the standard projection of the Population Council, a non-government group based in New York, proves correct.
However, the number of inhabitants in 2050 could be as high as 395m or as low as 266m, depending on whether the fertility rate remains stable or declines rapidly from the current level of 3.8 children per woman. The gap between the highest and lowest forecasts is huge, exceeding the population of most countries.
The strain on natural resources (especially water), government services, infrastructure and families is already immense and will worsen – even if Islamabad suddenly boosts family-planning programmes to meet popular demand for contraception and so ensures the population grows at the lowest of the predicted rates.