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Pakistan - People

One of the major driving forces putting pressure on the environment has been increasing population. In Pakistan during the 1940s, population growth rates begin to accelerate as health improvements lengthened life expectancy and birth rates remained high. By the year 2050, Pakistan's population is projected at 290 million [acording to 2016 US Census data].

There are disagreements among sources as to Pakisatans likely future population. ccording to United Nations projections, the Pakistan population would grow to over 380 million by the year 2050, surpassing the United States, Indonesia, Brazil, and Russia to become the world's third largest country behind India and China. With the highest population growth rate for any large Asian nation, Pakistan would experience dramatic declines in per capita availability of arable land, water, and forest resources. Already rapid population growth at three percent per year was eroding economic gain.

Literacy rates in Pakistan of 21 percent for women and 47 percent for men are among the lowest in the world. Textbooks in Pakistan were written in 1975 following the concepts and guidelines provided in the new curricula.

Religious controversies about women's role in society have spilled over into the family planning debate. The organised religious political parties officially oppose the population programmes and many people still believe that family planning is un-Islamic thus undermining political support for family planning issues.

The demographic transition is a theory first outlined by the eminent demographer Frank Notestein in 1945. All the societies, at one time or another, move from a near-equilibrium condition of high mortality and high fertility towards a presumed low-fertility and low-mortality equilibrium termed as ‘demographic transition’. A largely acceptable characterization of demographic transition consists of five components: mortality decline, natural increase in population size, fertility decline, urbanization and population aging.

The demographic transition consists of four stages. At the start — Stage 1, both birth rates and death rates are high. The natural increase (births minus deaths) is low, the population increases very slowly, and the country’s age structure is young with a pyramid shape of a large number of children at the base and very few older people at the top. In Stage 2, mortality, especially infant and child mortality, declines rapidly while fertility lags and remains high. In this stage, population increases rapidly and the age structure becomes younger. However, the proportion of the older population starts to grow as mortality rates decrease and people live longer.

In Stage 3, a fertility transition occurs as fertility declines rapidly, accompanied by continued yet slower declines in infant and child mortality, but accelerated mortality decline at older ages. The population continues to grow; however, the age structure becomes even older as life expectancy continues to improve. In Stage 4, both mortality and fertility are low and remain relatively stable, population growth flattens, and the age structure becomes old. No longer is there a wide base of young children and a small tip at the top for the older population; the shape of the age structure becomes almost rectangular.

The Population Census data depicts two phases of demographic transition in Pakistan. During the first phase that lasted up to 1981, the fertility rates were higher and the share of young (0-14) population continued to rise thereby creating a bulge at the lower end of population pyramid. The proportion of working age (15-59) population continued to decline during this phase. Since then Pakistan appears to have entered a second phase as a result of a decline in the fertility rate from 6 percent in 1981 to 3.5 percent in 2011 (GOP, 2012). This led to an increasing share of working age (15-59) population from 48.5 percent to 58.8 percent and corresponding decrease in the share of young (0-14) population (from 44.5 to about 35 percent).

The regional distribution of the population mirrors the country's topographical and climatic condition. The arid flatlands and barren mountains are sparsely inhabited. More than half of Pakistan's population lives in the Punjab province, though it accounts for only a quarter of the country's area. By contrast, Balochistan's meagre population of a few millions is scattered across nearly half of the area. The density is highest in the intensely irrigated north-eastern corner of Punjab and the deltaic region of the Indus surrounding Karachi.

An important phenomenon in the demographic dynamics of Pakistan is the increasing urbanization. During 1950-2012, the country's urban population grew more than ten-fold; compared to this, the total population increased over five-fold. The rate of urbanization was the highest in the formative years of Pakistan, when industrialization was taking place at a faster rate creating ample opportunities for movement to cities. It has reduced somewhat but is still quite high. The urban population of Pakistan was 23.6 million in 1981 and its growth rate was 1.3 to 1.7 percent higher than the national overall growth.

Since its independence in 1947, in roughly three generations, Pakistan's population increased from 32.5 million to 180 million in 2012 at an average rate of 2.7 percent per annum. Although the pressure on resources has increased, as more food, more houses and more employment are needed, the growth of population also means increased human power, which can be utilized for sustainable production and for reaping the benefit from demographic dividend.

Today Pakistan is the most urbanized nation in South Asia with the urban dwellers accounting for about 37 percent of the country's total population. The phenomenon of the rapidly growing population in Pakistan is also being accompanied by increasing concentration of population in the urban areas. The country's urban population multiplied more than ten-fold during 1950-2012 period, compared to this, the total population increased over five-fold.

The trend of growing urbanization has also witnessed concentration of urban population in a few major cities. Karachi, the largest city of the country has 20 percent of the total urban population, followed by Lahore and Faisalabad with another 20 per cent. Rawalpindi, Multan, Hyderabad, Gujranwala and Peshawar together hold another 14 per cent, while the remaining 46 per cent of the urban population lives in about 400 relatively small town and cities. The eight largest cities mentioned above have been growing at the rate of over three percent per year, and according to projected trends this growth rate will continue in the decade to 2025.

From the environmental stand point, the phenomenal increase in the population of Pakistan, whether total or urban, without corresponding expansion in basic amenities of life and infrastructure has exposed a majority of people to conditions, which are far from satisfactory. This can deteriorate further in the absence of well conceived and properly planned corrective actions in the years to come.

Despite the existence of a national family planning program that dated to 1965 Pakistan had not seen a reduction in the fertility rate until themid-199s. One of the poorest countries in the world, Pakistan had one of the highest population growth rates in the world at about 3.0% annually. For over two decades, the average woman in Pakistan had given birth to more than 6 children. At this fertility rate, the country's population of 120 million would increase to over 150 million by the year 2000, and it would increase to 280 million by 2020. And even if every woman were to begin having only 2 children, the population would still reach 160 million before leveling off.

But reducing fertility in Pakistan proved difficult. One of the leading obstacles was the low status of women. Few women in Pakistan have advanced education or professional jobs. Only 1/4 of those women without education or who are not working have any knowledge concerning contraception. Family size and composition also fuel the high rate of fertility. On the average, women desire 5 children (the fact that women average more than 5 suggests an unmet need for contraception). And due to social, cultural, and economic conditions, Pakistanis generally prefer male offsprings. Islamic opposition to family planning has also contributed to the continued high rates of fertility. Finally, administrative and management weaknesses have hindered Pakistan's family planning program. In order to overcome these obstacles, Pakistan had to enlist the commitment of political, religious, and community leaders.

Pakistan family planning program, which was one of the world's oldest programs, faced inconstant political support, which was a prime reason for program failure. Frequent changes in leadership contributed to constantly shifting strategies coupled by weak implementation. Population programs lack adequate geographical coverage and community outreach.






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