THE country’s population growth rate is at a staggering 2.4% that is at least double of other regional countries like India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The situation indeed warrants steps on an urgent basis to reverse this growth, and the initiative to this effect was taken by honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar by constituting a Task Force on the matter which, in fact, has already furnished some concrete suggestions including that of making pre-marital counselling on family planning mandatory for Nikah registration as well as holding Ulema conference on the issue on a regular basis.
It is heartening to note that the Federal and Provincial Governments appear to be serious to implement these very recommendations and one saw the positive gesture towards that end at the meeting of the Council of Common Interests on Monday which decided to constitute National and Provincial Task Forces to be headed by the Prime Minister at the national level and by the respective Chief Ministers at the provincial level to consider the recommendations of the Task Force established by the Supreme Court and then formulate an Action Plan, taking into account the future implementation strategy, the financial aspects and other issues pertaining to mustering support of all segments of the society for the success of the comprehensive population control program. As the Task Forces are to be headed by the chief executives of both the Centre and the Provinces, therefore, one may expect that the future Plan of Action will be completed without any delay after due deliberations and taking into account the recommendations of the apex court’s task force which in fact provides a very clear way forward to deal with the issue effectively. The most important is to create necessary awareness amongst the population through different forums about the importance of family planning that is also vital for the overall health of women and children. Especially those living in far flung areas could be reached through lady health workers as well as the media for removing misperception about contraceptives which should be provided to them free of cost. There are countries which have set a policy to regulate the number of children and we also need to do necessary legislation towards that end after taking on board the religious scholars.