-Illustration by Khuda Bux Abro.

Even if you don’t believe in them, ghosts exist. Or at least one does; the ghost of the population. And nobody is ready to face it. People are either hiding from it or perhaps just avoiding it. It’s true that we only hear what we want to hear, anyone else who is speaking is speaking to himself.

If the government ever goes beyond appearing in courts, they might look here and there. There are judges on one side and coalition parties on the other. If the government slightly topples over because of the judiciary and media, it is faced by new demands from these coalition partners and then has to increase the number of ministers and advisors. Now because of the same coalition, so many new ministries have come to being that it is difficult to name them; some are given hanky names and a minister is installed, whereas the others are just concerned with themselves. They are utilising the people’s money on the people, it’s not like making a few more ministries which will help democracy complete its term would make the sky fall on us. Those in uniform have also been here for over 10 years and appoint ministers to their liking. We are still installing democratically elected leaders, who will wait for another 10 years.

Truth be told, the judiciary, assemblies, newspapers, TVs are still wondering who to promote and who not to promote. All our resources are being used to disrepute one another. Mian sahab is in the government and out of it too. He’s getting thinner everyday by worrying about the poor in his mansion.  The very few resources which are left in Pakistan are being swallowed by the ghost of our population. The increasing population is not a concern for our judges; our leaders, our media and our politicians know nothing about it. Someone is worried about retrieving his money safely, whereas the other is worried about deporting it safely. Someone will not let go until new provinces are created, whereas the other is dreaming about creating a new country. Earlier, the Muslims had dreamed of their own country and increased their population so much that the inevitable result was a separate country.

Just as the population is increasing, our resources are decreasing and problems are escalating. But our leaders, media and opposition members have involved us in such petty issues that even if they do get solved, the expected change will not only be felt by the leaders themselves and those around them. But why are we putting all the blame on the government? We are equally responsible. Without giving it a thought, we are ever increasing our population. The slogan ‘bachay doh hee achay’ doesn’t appear anywhere anymore; it seems that the population welfare institution itself has disappeared.

We take out all our anger caused by poverty, unemployment and load shedding by having more children. Whether we have something to eat or not, we must have a child as he comes with his fate already decided. Most are increasing the population in hopes of a son.

This is also given by God, we didn’t do anything; all we do is thank Him.

Tired of unemployment, we bring them to bazaars in order to sell them. Many pictures are taken and are displayed on our TV channels. Now if he gets a job, or his salary increases, the same man will have a second or even a third marriage. The waderahs keep one wife in the village and two in the city but the poor man is no less. Last years’ floods revealed that around 70-80 per cent women were expecting, and this proved to be a grave problem for social workers. Almost every woman, as frail as she was, had 8-10 children. Visit a camp and you’ll see the woman either taking care of children or cooking food while the husband rests on the charpai complaining about not receiving aid.

What about the kids? They are given by God and he himself will take care of them. The lack of schools is not a problem as long as there are madrassahs. The education, food and shelter is all for free. He’ll get to eat mutton day and night – something which is not afforded by the wealthy these days. Now there are package deals; if you give one son you will get this, if you give two you will get even more benefits, and if you give three you’ll also get to go for hajj. What else does the poor man want?

We don’t consider those in power to be part of this group, but these are people who are always in power, whether it is by adorning the robe of the opposition. One way or the other, they are always in power. They have their whole families including their sons, daughters, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces and distant relatives all spread out in the civil service, the army, the newspapers, television, within the assembly or outside the assembly, religious party or a liberal party; their relatives are everywhere and ensure that their work never stops. Sometimes they are sitting near this side of the river and at other times, on the other side. Khan sahab who is dreaming of a new revolution has the same left over pieces in his future virtue of fate yet his slogan is still that of a revolution. Journalists only take notes for show, they publish what has already been told to them.

This is the era of sons; after all they will have to take over the country’s responsibilities one day. This is why we are

seeing pictures of sons and daughters in our newspapers these days. Our population has increased to such an extent that our youngsters are a majority and they will form the vast majority of this year’s vote. This is why everybody is preparing to introduce their youngsters. The majority of our youth who consider Imran Khan as their hero, and prefer showing off over politics, seem to be holding more concerts than rallies – the introduction of music in the middle of a speech has already started. They will get votes by singing and dancing away. After all, only those who are on Facebook can vote for them. Poor Musharraf faced a similar fate – expecting too much after seeing his Facebook page but the reality was far different.

Forget the politicians, even our judge’s sons have steeped into this field; progressing day and night. No one dares to blame them; they’ve been bathed in milk. It doesn’t matter if they became millionaires in one night, its not like they robbed someone. Anyway, in the midst of this game between sons of judges and politicians, our population is increasing. At the moment, we rank 6th in the list of the world’s most populous countries and in the next 20 years, would have surpassed many countries.

Schools, roads, hospitals, jobs, electricity, water and gas are still largely nonexistent in our country. You can well imagine what happens next. We are dealing with shots now; we might have to deal with bombs later.


The author has dabbled in every form of the visual arts. An activist to the core, Abro’s work deals with social themes and issues ranging from human rights to dictatorial regimes. He is currently working for DAWN as an illustrator.

Updated Sep 06, 2012 10:19am

More From This Section

Comments (44) (Closed)


Mohamed
Sep 06, 2012 05:04pm
I think you have put the cart before the horse
Imran Khalid
Sep 06, 2012 12:41pm
May God save Islam from Muslims !!!
Ahmed
Sep 06, 2012 01:18pm
Population - even our literate ones dont realize that we are suffering from population bomb. You will hear people citing example of China and how its uses it population. Well the fact is that in general a poor Chinese worker is in a very BAD situation and even if the economy is booming (chinese i mean), the poverty levels are not moving much. Our ideal in terms of human well being should be West not China. And if you compare Pakistan with West, with current population growth levels, we can NEVER achieve even 25% of what they have achieved. Time DIFFUSE this population bomb.
Khan
Sep 08, 2012 12:00am
Thank you for writing about such an important issue, regardless of how many schools, roads, hospitals etc we build, they'll never be enough. IF we want a progressive and developed country we must control our population growth just like Israel, a country many times smaller than ours that provides high quality education to its youngsters from world's best universities and produces individuals and entrepreneurs who head most of world's well known brands.
Saadia
Sep 06, 2012 01:12pm
Well China has largest population but they know how and where to use them. If we know how then of course one day they can become consumers and everyone loves consumers. But if we don't know how to manage the large population then yes it will haunt us like a ghost and we will compete Ethiopia in hunger and poverty.
Ahmed Azmi
Sep 08, 2012 01:00am
Come on, only tiny portion of middle class chinese is experiencing growth and mass poors are in filthy condition! News don't come out does not mean they are not there! Just think, what will you feed them if no agricultural land is left? People are justifying population growth in already populated country and that is the most dangerous thing than population growth itself. Khuda khair kare!!
qalim
Sep 07, 2012 07:36am
‘bachay doh hee achay’ doesn’t appear anywhere anymore; ' perhaps the new sligan is Bachay Do....
rashid
Sep 06, 2012 11:37am
Population is the biggest problem of Pakistan since at least last 20 years, but no body dare to speak about it except some rare journalist like you. But ultimately people of Pakistan are themselves responsible for such a ghost. Instead of bashing politicians 24 hrs on TV channel , we should talk about the population growth of Pakistan and its repercussions that is killing Pakistan.
Karachi Wala
Sep 06, 2012 01:15pm
By the start of 20th century the world's population was around one billion. As of now the world's population is approaching quickly to seven billions. What that means is, almost every 6th person is either a Chinese or an Indian. If the population of Pakistan and Bangladesh is added to this mix, approximately every four and half person is breathing on someone else’s neck Moral of the story is, our side of the world is sinking by its own weight.
Pradeep
Sep 06, 2012 01:50pm
Per capita availability of resources decreased drastically in past few decades in Pakistan (and namely south Asia which is not resource rich as Arabia), this is also a big pain for policy makers to provide basic needs and other infrastructures for ever increasing population with meagerly increasing revenues. This topic shouldn’t be a taboo but need to be discussed openly and let the public know the burden of overpopulation on limited resources. I request Government to concentrate all its resources to achieve 100 % education (not Madrassa) in the Country as early as possible.
Amir
Sep 06, 2012 04:37pm
Well put.
Yawar
Sep 06, 2012 11:49pm
Population growth compounded with a scarcity of water and job opportunities in Pakistan will result in extremely bad consequences. The government knows that. But their top priority is getting votes for the next election and not the future of Pakistan. And ufortunately that will be the likely case for the next government as well.
Shah
Sep 06, 2012 02:43pm
Population is NOT the biggest problem of Pakistan. The population is what Pakistan is made of - or any other country for that matter. The most successful economies look upon their population as their biggest wealth and not a problem.. Pakistan's bigget problem is curropt wetern educated politicians: who have enriched them self and placed their country and its inhabitants on the way to total destruction.
Khan
Sep 08, 2012 12:08am
Rightly said but over population is the reason behind illiteracy which gives space to superstition. To reduce this the current intolerance in our society we must give better opportunities to our minorities including giving them quality education. As the author has pointed out the problems and false priorities our politicians are busy in, our generals could have addressed these core issues but I guess they were either not mature enough to address these issues or deliberately ignored them but there is a powerful role that media could have played and should play by creating awareness about these issues, electronic media is the only medium that people listen to more than any one else.
Kalsa
Sep 06, 2012 04:03pm
These poor people cannot afford these kids and they offer the kids to madrasahs to feed and educate them. Mullahs train some of these children to become suicide bombers and terrorists. Illiteracy and poetry keep on propagating and it helps the cause of mullahs
cameo
Sep 06, 2012 09:03pm
just a comparison UK's population in 1947 was about 50 millions , now its about 60 Pakistan from the 37 million at the time is now almost 180 million. This has to be the single most important problem facing this country and needs to be dealt with on war footing. Some of the possible solution: - Ban child labor - enforce compulsory education - divert more resources to family planning / and health - increase girls marriage age
hassan
Sep 08, 2012 06:37am
it is just because of unawareness , but now instead of just shouting against it we should plan some thing this manpower at the same time is our power we should utilize it
bilal
Sep 06, 2012 02:31pm
No alternate way of entertainment and minimum infrastructure for sports and outdoor activities leaves people to find peace at homes :)
Dr.G.M .Baluch
Sep 06, 2012 04:40pm
A very thought provoking article, which is true for most of the countries located in subcontenet.
Pakiboy
Sep 08, 2012 07:53am
There is no place for us anywhere in the world if we become dead weight in the form of useless uneducated malnutritioned crowd that the world should give aid and donations. World does not need us if we are a liability.
Ravi
Sep 08, 2012 07:49am
You are right children are gifts of god, more the better, we have enough madrassas in Pakistan they are more than willing to feed and educate them. Parents have no headache.
andleeb (Ottawa,Canada)
Sep 07, 2012 09:21am
Allah will provide. There is ample place in Canada and Europe for muslims.
Syed
Sep 07, 2012 10:10pm
Economic theories. Have changed. The things stressed in sixties is obsolete now that is why west have to increase immigration to get work force provided by people and Americans came up with baby Boomer so having only two children is economically devastating for any nation or country if they want to thrive in 21st century however in case of Pakistan it is only to harness and tap this work force in an organized way rather than committing the same blunder west did and now regretting.
Umair baloch
Sep 06, 2012 06:32pm
Abro Saheb it looks like a compilation of everyday experience and reality that is explained rarely. But things are getting their own shape just like a chocolate which looses its shape after being heated due to hot weather. Same is our condition we are not shaped properly but randomly. Most entertaining form of democracy we are!
aghaehan
Sep 07, 2012 06:20pm
Typical Pakistani Canadian on welfare.
Nazim
Sep 10, 2012 12:33am
What ever one writes or say loudly about population burst in Pakistan will not make dent on our politicians.They like illitrate poverty stricken masses, because it is easier to fool them. Mulla wedera and politician click is very strong, it is impossible to get out of their web.
Faisal
Sep 07, 2012 05:26am
With all due respsct, a worthless, disorganised, irrelevant piece of writing.
BRR
Sep 06, 2012 04:22pm
If the population of Pakistan doubles in another 40 years, and things don't improve, the society will further descend into chaos and the neighbourhood will suffer as a consequence. Pakistanis may be blindly descending into a state of death and starvation where the room to manouver will be lost.
Pakistani Hindu
Sep 07, 2012 03:50am
Illiteracy and superstitions have been the social villains that have almost exponentially increased our population.
Ahmed
Sep 07, 2012 06:05am
No one can save our population from doubling in the next 25 years. It has already doubled twice in the history. Growing at a rate of more than 2.5% per year will leave us nowhere. Family planning is not given its due importance. only less than 7% use any method for birth spacing out of which only about 2% use a modern method such as a intrauterine contraceptive device or a pill or injections. Even our educated class have myths and wrong perceptions about these modern methods. How many women you think use IUCDs in your surrounding, ask them why not they would tell you hundred false reasons for that. Who is to blame for this. I think doctors in particular who lack essential skills to counsel women and government which lacks any strong and comprehensive and focussed FP program. I think the effects of lack of such a population control system which we need now more than before are drastic: large families with high child mortality, malnutrition in mothers and children, poverty, disease, transport challenges, inadequate health care system, joblessness, crime, violence as a result of predominantly young population and the list goes on and on. Unless you have plans for utilising these youth as demographic dividend and make them contribute them to the economy like india did you can not cope with the havoc these youth create in this country. Secondly you need to create ways to improve utilization of FP services.
AHA
Sep 07, 2012 07:34pm
Islam has nothing to do with this. How we 'understand' it is.
raika45
Sep 07, 2012 01:43pm
Has anyone come up with the reason as to why population explosion only occurs in third world countries? Especially where religion has a hold.Do not the leaders of religion in these countries realise the danger it poses.Most of these leaders are well settled and well fed.How come no one has the guts to "slam" into their logic that over population spells doom for a nation with limited resources?One only has that much land to feed it's people.
AHA
Sep 07, 2012 07:27pm
So true.
AHA
Sep 07, 2012 07:31pm
Twisted. Population is a problem. It needs to be managed. Western education has nothing to do with corruption.
AHA
Sep 07, 2012 07:23pm
China is a huge country with huge resources. Their population growth is well contained now. And of course, they know what to do with themselves.
Mohammad A Malick
Sep 07, 2012 01:45pm
Good Article and very true story. Amazed by your painting, it's really horrifying . I wish Khuda Buks Abro people of Pakistan would have understood your vision. Alas, they don't. Stay true ................................................Keep working.....
Saw
Sep 07, 2012 07:23am
Example of population in China is a good one and its correct that we dont know how to utilize them.
Mairaj
Sep 06, 2012 02:07pm
It is a good reminder, bachay do hi achay
Nabarun Dey
Sep 06, 2012 03:07pm
Hats off to Abro and Dawn for the splendid illustration and article. Both Indian & Pakistani citizen specially Muslims need to ponder on this because, both these countries are sinking under the weight of its population.
porkchop
Sep 07, 2012 01:10am
AND WHO WILL SAVE PAKISTAN????
Rashid Sultan
Sep 07, 2012 02:08pm
as if canadians are waiting for muslims in droves from pakistan? which planet do you live on?
Shayo
Sep 07, 2012 04:14pm
Other countries cannot reward the people of Pakistan's irresponsibility to the planet by giving them a place to live. In fact at this point in time there are not many countries, if any willing to welcome a flood of Pakistanis, certainly not Canada.
doraha
Sep 08, 2012 11:16am
Population explosion was predicted in mid seventies and nobody in the government believed that. Religious lobbyists believe we should produce more children, the child producing factories will go on increasing the number, therefore, sir, you grow more wheat. Family planning institutions ......are they to be rewarded for increasing population, they must be rewarded with sitara-i-imtiaz. Don't worry, more and more madrassah will come into existence to accomodate the coming generation. Be proud you will be highly productive child bearing country.
Prashant Singh
Sep 07, 2012 06:50pm
Upper cast population in Indian is decreasing very rapidly..I have two sons. My sister has one son and a daughter, out of my three cousins one has zilch one has one son and another two daughter..My younger brother has one daughter..My maternal cousine has one son and one daughter. His son has one daughter, his daughter has zilch..My another maternal cousine has two sons, but they are unmarried..My fufi has three sons..They are all past 40. One has one daughter, one has one son and one daughter..Etc etc..Dalit population in in India is still rising..OBC population is kind of stable..Muslim population is rising almost as rapidly as in Pakistan.