Pakistan launches population plan

Posted: 13 May 2003

"Pakistan cannot be pulled out of the poverty trap with 3 million additional births every year. Efforts to bring down the birth rate must be pursued vigorously through sound population management," President Pervez Musharraf said at the launch of the country's new population policy.

The policy, announced in July 2002, aims at achieving population stabilization by 2020. It received a funding boost from UNFPA and the British and US governments in May 2003 (see footnote.)

At the policy launch on World Population Day, Musharraf said the population welfare programme is a challenge that Pakistan has to win both for economic reasons and for the sake of social justice.

He said that he and the rest of the government are firmly committed to making the programme a success, and it will take centre stage in Pakistan's development efforts.

"We want regular monitoring of population growth to achieve the target of 1.6 per cent by the year 2012," he said.

He said spreading the message of the small family norm is everyone's responsibility and presently 30 million couples are practising family planning in the country.(Pakistan has a population approaching 150 million, projected to grow to 251 million by 2025.) He said he is in favour of introducing the topic of family planning in formal and non formal education in the country. The Population Policy 2002 seeks to attain a balance between resources and population, increase awareness of adverse consequences of rapid population growth.

The stated goal is to reduce population growth from the UN estimate of 2.8 per cent in 2000 to a 1.9 per cent by 2004. With over 40 per cent of the population under 15, a female literacy rate of some 46 per cent and only some 18 per cent of the population using a modern method of contraception, this is a very tall order.

The long term aim is to bring the growth rate down to 1.3 per cent per annum by 2020 and to provide universal access to safe family planning methods by 2010.

  • In May 2003, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the US and British Departments of International Development signed a five-year, $68 million, agreement to improve reproductive health in Pakisan and promote family planning in rural areas.
  • Source: IPPF and Xinhua General News Service (China), 11 July 2002 and UN Wire, 12 May 2003.