Ticking bomb

IN an increasingly resource-scarce world, Pakistan is a particularly populous country. ‘Youth bulge’ is the term used to describe a situation where the single largest section of society — a hundred million, or 65 per cent of the overall population — comprises people under the age of 25. The bland term masks a demographic disaster in the making, given that according to UN figures, 32 per cent of the people aged between 15 and 29 years are illiterate, less than six per cent have acquired technical skills and only 2.5 per cent have received on-the-job training. In a country where the state seems to have neither the will nor the capacity to invest in educational and other infrastructure, the workforce is increasing at the rate of three per cent annually — which the UNDP refers to as “alarming”. What we desperately need, if there is to be any chance at all of a brighter future, is a sharp decline in the rate at which the population is growing. The problem is not a general lack of awareness about the importance of family planning. According to some estimates, some 25 per cent of married women in the country would opt for family planning but are unable to access relevant resources for one reason or another.

In this situation, then, it is welcome news that the Aman Foundation, a local not-for-profit trust, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have signed a five-year framework agreement under which $5m will be invested by each party in addressing the gaps in reproductive health and family planning services in the country. The reiteration of the importance of family planning has been at the top of the list of the country’s priorities for most of its existence, yet while the population growth rate has seen a slowdown, it is still at unsustainably high levels. The non-governmental sector has played an important role in this regard, and the state needs to match its efforts. While partnerships such as that signed in Dubai between the Aman and Gates’ foundations can play a key role, the state must not be lulled into reneging on its own responsibilities.

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Comments (7) Closed

Iftikhar Husain
Oct 14, 2012 10:46am
This should have been done long time ago but this is a welcome start sooner the better,
Cyrus Howell
Oct 14, 2012 12:06pm
"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be. . . The People cannot be safe without information. When the press is free, and every man is able to read, all is safe." -- Thomas Jefferson
Oct 14, 2012 11:01am
the state could have been much worse if family planning would not have introduced in 90s. As my generation (born in 70s and 80s) have 10-12 maternal & paternal aunts/uncles contrary to what we see now. i think we are moving towards better future
Oct 14, 2012 01:49pm
It seems like drama, too little too late. When the state has failed to implement it how can private NGOs succeed ? Specially in theses days of ignorance and rising intolerance.
M. Asghar
Oct 14, 2012 09:45am
The longterm disasterous situation in all the spheres of the life of the country has been not only due to total absence of the state but often its encouragement in the wrong dirction. Now, one is reaching a point of no return.
Keti Zilgish
Oct 14, 2012 05:46am
The only mistake in Pakistan is to rely upon the state because no state is incorruptible.
Oct 14, 2012 08:11am
missed the bus.now anarchy