Pakistan: We Need to Apply the Brakes
Pakistan plans to slow South Asia’s fastest population growth rate through enhanced education for women to ensure sustainable economic expansion for the world’s sixth-most populous country.
The country will try to reduce its population growth to 1.2 percent a year by 2025 from about two percent now, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Ahsan Iqbal said in an interview with foreign media at his office in Islamabad. The nation of about 196 million people each year adds some 4.4 million more people, the equivalent of New Zealand’s population, he said.
“We actually need to apply brakes,” Iqbal said. “With the current two percent growth rate it has become very difficult to sustain your development,” he added.
“If we can give our young population the right education, right skills, it is a big demographic dividend for the next 10 to 15 years,” Iqbal said. “If it doesn’t happen it becomes a demographic disaster.”
The government will focus on making planning programs available to married couples and prioritising education for women, he said. Growth at the current rate will strain natural resources and hinder growth, he said.
Only about 30 percent of married couples use contraceptives in Pakistan, compared with 55 percent in neighbouring India and 73 percent in Iran, according to a finance ministry economic survey published last year. Pakistan’s population grew about two percent, compared with 1.3 percent in India and one percent in Iran, it said.