ISLAMABAD, May 2: The population is continuously increasing every passing day, and is increasing the burden on the national resources, nutrition and the health sector. If immediate steps are not taken, the population of the country will go beyond 300 million by 2050, and Pakistan will become the fifth largest populated country of the world.

This was stated by the participants in the launching ceremony of the book ‘Capturing the Demographic Dividend in Pakistan’ by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Population Council held at a local hotel on Thursday.

The book was edited by representative UNFPA Rabbi Royan, Country Director Population Council Dr Zeba Sathar and American Scholar Dr John Bongaarts. The foreword was written by Professor of Demography at Harvard School of Public Health Dr David Bloom.

Advisor to the Ministry of Finance, Dr Shahid Amjad Chaudhry, while speaking to the participants said, “In Pakistan, one third births are undesired but families accept them as the will of God.

It shows that the government can stop one-third increase in the population by taking appropriate steps.”

He said education was the key to control population, but the government had no plans regarding it and politicians only did lip service. “Education is a provincial subject but that does not mean the federal government need not think about it. The same situation is witnessed in the health sector,” he said.

During a panel discussion, former minister Javed Jabbar pointed out some factual errors in the book. In one case, he pointed out that the book maintained seven million children were out of school, while the actual figure was 25 million.

Mr Jabbar also suggested that the book be translated into Urdu and local languages so that everyone would be aware of the hazards of the increasing population.

Secretary Planning Division Hassan Nawaz Tarar said it was the planning division’s responsibility to allocate funds for different sectors as per requirement.

“Because of the increase in population, requirements of every sector have also increased. We arranged a family planning summit in 2012 to give awareness to masses regarding the use of contraceptive,” he said.

Dr David Bloom of Harvard, through a video conference, said the book gave deep understanding of the history of Pakistan, adding that investment should be done in the health sector.

Director Wittgenstein Center for Demography USA, Prof Wolfgang Lutz, through a video conference, said females should be educated since the number of children born to educated women was two but those who did not go to school gave birth to almost 5 children at average. “If this continues, the population of the world will reach 10 billion by the end of this century,” he added.

In Pakistan, 92pc adults have never gone to school and the government should invest in the education sector, he said.

Similarly, American Scholar Dr John Bongaarts (through a recorded video message) said in Pakistan, 60pc of the public was under 25 years of age, and a lot of investment was needed to facilitate these people.

“A large number of women want to use contraceptives, but don’t get access to health workers. In Bangladesh, the population growth rate is 2 percent but in Pakistan it is almost 3 percent,” he added.

Dr Zeba Sathar, while talking to participants, said for many decades no one discussed the issue of population but now it was being discussed throughout the world since the world’s population had reached seven billion and difficulties for developing countries were increasing.