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ISLAMABAD: Population and environment experts believe that investing in population programmes is essential for the security and socio-economic development of the country.

Moreover, the government should spend on the youth, because it will be impossible for an untrained generation to run the country in the future.

The ‘World Population Day’ is being observed globally on Friday July 11, with the message: “Invest in young people today, to ensure a bright future”.

Demographic Expert Dr Tauseef Ahmed, while speaking at a workshop organised by non-government organisations Subh-e-Nau and Pathfinders, said that if we fail to invest in the youth, not only they will be unskilled and uneducated but they will stay unemployed.

“Traditionally, the population growth rate is linked with failure to achieve economic growth. Population growth means that the government has to arrange resources to deal with the increasing number of people,” he said.

Talking about the failures to control population growth during the last two decades in Pakistan, Dr Tauseef said that the male population in the society is more conservative, while female literacy and empowerment rates have severely lagged behind other countries.

Dr Jawad Chishtie, from Subh-e-Nau, said that if we would have given proper attention to the issue of population growth 30 years ago, there would be a different situation right now.

“Unfortunately we failed to convince people that population programmes are not against Islam in any way, as Islam also stresses to educate the people and build a healthier society,” he said.

Subh-e-Nau Chief of Research Dr Farrukh Ahmed stated that environmental effects of population growth are evident.

“The situation of water is getting worse in the country. Due to climate change, we will frequently face droughts and floods, which will compromise our food security,” he said.

“We may not find enough food to feed our people in the near future. On the other hand, our children are already facing malnutrition and stunted growth, due to which they are the facing various diseases leading to early death,” he said.

Dr Farrukh stated that the environment suffers a lot in highly populous areas.

The major cause of environmental degradation in the world today is high population growth rate. Forests and natural resources are decreasing, he said.

“Had the population programmes in 1980s, 1990s and 2000s been executed properly, Pakistan’s population today would have been 10 to 15 million lesser,” he said.

Dr Jawad Chishtie, while talking to Dawn, said that soon it will be too late, if the government does not give due attention to population growth.

“There are different speculations about the population of the country. The government should hold a census, because polices can only be made for a known number of people,” he said.

Published in Dawn, July 11th, 2014