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Who’s enemy number one?

Updated Mar 18, 2017 07:58am

ASK people around you to identify the three greatest threats facing Pakistan. Ordinary people, chatterbox anchors, mullahs, generals and politicians will name everything from corruption, bad governance and religious terrorism, to Indian and American conspiracies, and general moral decay. But few, if any, waste sleep worrying about the country’s exploding population. Some educated people do have misgivings, but they show concern only when prodded.

Fortunately, the ultra-religious sorts — which this land is abundantly blessed with — are free from useless doubt. For them more is better. Every newborn, say the ultras, comes with a guaranteed rizq (provision) stamped on its forehead. Now let’s assume, ignoring the visible contrary evidence, that this is correct. Yet there shall remain an impossibly difficult problem even if food and water were to drop miraculously from the skies. Fact: Pakistan will eventually run out of physical space. This is what the law of exponential growth says.

Only a miracle can now prevent Pakistan from becoming 400 million people in around 35 years.

An old Persian story helps understand the mathematical concept of exponentials.

Once upon a time, a clever courtier presented an elaborate ivory chess set to his king. In return he asked for only one grain of rice for the first square, two for the second, four for the third, etc. Now, kings in those times did not have degrees in math, and this one was no exception. He foolishly agreed and ordered the rice be brought out from the storage. Working on the agreed upon terms, the 10th square had 512 grains, the 14th weighed around 1kg, and the 20th around 128kg. Long before reaching the last square (64th) the kingdom’s entire rice stock was exhausted.

The moral: if something doubles, and doubles again and again, then even the sky is not high enough.

Let’s return to Pakistan. In 1947 it had 27 million people and now has over 200m. This gives a doubling time of roughly 25 years. Now assume for a moment that the ultras have their way and the doubling time stays unchanged. Then 25 years later there will be 400m Pakistani CNIC holders. Wait for another 100 years and that number will comfortably exceed the world’s current population of 7.2 billion.

The effects will be much more dramatic after yet another 25 years — ie 150 years from today. Imagine that all 800,000 square kilometres of Pakistani territory is somehow levelled. Even so, there will be only room for standing shoulder to shoulder. In such circumstances it is hard to imagine how further reproduction will be physically possible. Generals who receive retirement gifts of 93 acres (approximately 37 hectares) of land today will be lucky if they get 93 square feet.

The good news is that this is not actually going to happen. Every demographer is shouting from the rooftop that birth rates are declining and doubling times are increasing. Indeed, according to the CIA World Factbook, birthrates in Pakistan have fallen from 32.11 in 2000 to 23.19 in 2014.

The bad news is that even this decline isn’t good enough. Short of nuclear war or a miracle, nothing can now prevent Pakistan from reaching 400m people in 35-40 years. Hence the demand for living space will vastly accelerate. Even now, green areas are vanishing as villages become towns, and one city spills over into the next. Karachi and Hyderabad are approaching their eventual merger, just as Islamabad and Rawalpindi have become practically one city, and Islamabad is furiously racing towards Taxila.

Doubling Pakistan’s population means that there will only be half as much fresh water as today, the air will become yet filthier, pollutants will poison the land and sea, and road traffic will become nearly impossible. As poverty skyrockets, hordes of beggars will roam the streets, madressahs will swell in size and number, and the unemployed and unemployable will chafe in anger and frustration. They will be easily persuaded that their predicament comes from some international conspiracy.

Although this holocaust is only some years away, curiously it is the suicide terrorist — whose ball-bearing filled jacket can kill only dozens — that draws our attention. Why? The story of two frogs loitering near the kitchen stove is instructive.

One frog fell into a pot of hot water and was so jolted that he jumped out instantly. He was saved. The other one fell into a pot wherein the water was only slowly warming up. He swam around and around but did not summon the energy to make a sudden jump. Ultimately he was boiled to death. The obvious moral: instant shocks are better survived than long-term threats.

How to avoid a similar doom? As a first step we must declassify our best kept national secret — knowing how babies are made. Only then can contraception be discussed in the public media, and in schools and colleges. Phenomenal ignorance on these matters has led to extremely low rates of contraceptive usage by Pakistani women. This also reflects their disempowerment in deciding the number of children. Hence birth and fertility rates in Pakistan exceed those in Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and the rest of South Asia.

With discussion suppressed in the name of Mashriqi sharm-o-haya, all kinds of nonsensical belief are going unchallenged today. Should we be surprised that countless workers administering polio shots — which are falsely alleged to decrease fertility — have been shot and killed?

The government’s supreme cowardice makes one shudder. Fearing the wrath of violent ultras, Pakistan abolished the ministry for population planning many years ago. Upon googling, I came across the website of the Population Welfare Department. This ridiculous name suggests that PWD will seek, and succeed, in delivering welfare to Pakistanis irrespective of their number. I could not find an Urdu version of the website. Apart from giving advertisements in newspapers, where it matters little, I am unaware if the PWD does anything else.

Averting catastrophe because of overbreeding does not need rocket science but it does need common sense. It also needs courage, which our pusillanimous leaders — both civil and military — have so far failed to muster. Much more than Zarb-i-Azb, we need Zarb-i-Tauleed. Unless we learn from the second frog’s fate, Pakistan doesn’t have much of a future.

The writer teaches physics and mathematics in Lahore and Islamabad.

Published in Dawn, March 18th, 2017

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

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Comments (269) Closed

Mar 18, 2017 07:29am

Completely agree with Prof Hoodbhoy. This should be the concern, however the sad thing is that in our misunderstanding of religion we often become irratìonal!

Mar 18, 2017 07:46am

The sorts who think every newborn comes with a guaranteed rizq stamped on its forehead - this is utter jahalat (illiteracy). Unless this mindset changes even China like one child policy only will not work as this be vehemently opposed by the same powerfully vocal sorts.

Mar 18, 2017 07:53am

Brilliant piece, Pervez Sir, in a language that everyone can understand. Thank you. It's equally applicable to India and rest of South Asia as well.

Mar 18, 2017 07:58am

Biggest enemy of Pakistan is over popluation.

Mar 18, 2017 08:02am

"The government’s supreme cowardice makes one shudder. Fearing the wrath of violent ultras, Pakistan abolished the ministry for population planning many years ago." _ Even the mention of birth control is political suicide for any elected official in Pakistan. Bangladesh is the same.

Mar 18, 2017 08:09am

Never thought of an article like this. Population vs land vs resources is managed by the Creator and not by goofs. Tauleed is a natural phenomenon and cannot be suppressed lest we would face a harsher fact of identity just now prevailing in Europe. And plz do not get mathematical regarding population growth its ridiculous and insensible.

Mar 18, 2017 08:13am

Yet another gem from professor saab. Over population growth is there in all south asain countries. With growing population and urbanisation, government has to spend enormous amount of money for supporting infrastructure and as there are less cities. Government should make a rule to limit 2 kids per couple.

Mar 18, 2017 08:14am

altough the article might seem offensive or insulting to some people in denial, this is nothing but the absolute truth. ditto is applicable for india. hotel owners and landlords could rejoice for exponential hikes in fares

Kamaljit singh
Mar 18, 2017 08:13am

Greatest ever article. it is time for folks to understand their responsibilities and avoid prejudices and dogmas.

Mar 18, 2017 08:10am

I agree with you Professor. The situation in Pakistan is extremely dismal in all sectors whether health, family planners no, education.....the list is endless. Time to flee.

Mar 18, 2017 08:10am

Corrupt politicians.

Mar 18, 2017 08:14am

Very valid points raised here

nadir baloach
Mar 18, 2017 08:16am

from my childhood i learn India & USA both r the biggest enemy of Pakistan but now i realized illiteracy & Poverty is the biggest enemy of Pakistan.

Mar 18, 2017 08:16am

Excellent writing.

Mar 18, 2017 08:18am

This doom scenario is one sided view. If a reasonable economic growth is sustained, and if this vast human capital is trained, the young population of Pak will become an asset rather than liability. China has just reversed it's one child policy and Korea too relaxed because they realised their gross miscalc 30 years ago.

Mar 18, 2017 08:21am

author has clearly explained the problem Pak will face in next decades it is misunderstanding of religion

Mar 18, 2017 08:18am

Lacking of education, poverty, and improper guidance are the main reasons that have caused impediments and hindrance in the development and prosperity of this country.

I hope one day our leader will focused on the aforementioned areas by developing effective countermeasure to overcome these hurdles at an exponential rate otherwise we are in dooming stage.

aga Khan
Mar 18, 2017 08:25am

Well said re the population. Also more well said about our civilian and military leaders - they just do not have in them to face this reality.

Mar 18, 2017 08:29am

The religious ultraconservatives are right. More people, more blessings. One reason China is so powerful is because of its huge population.

Mar 18, 2017 08:34am

pakistanis are not hatered of india, but its corrupt politicians do business of vote bank on name of india (enemy).

Mar 18, 2017 08:34am

Population control is a hot button issue in most Muslim countries and Pakistan is no exception. Prof. Hoodbhoy has made a cogent argument about how paramount family planning is for Pakistan's socio-economic success. However, with due respect - this analogy may not be so wise, "birth and fertility rates in Pakistan exceed those in Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and the rest of South Asia." Simply because Pakistani society on the whole doesn't abort fetuses (especially females) at the rate done in India or other non-Muslim nations. Bangladesh may be a better comparison.

In the end, it's about widespread health education of both males and females when they're at the adolescent stage - well before marriage. Personally, I know of very few educated Pakistanis who have more then three children - most have only two. It's the rural areas and the less educated where the highest birth levels are concentrated.

M Jamal
Mar 18, 2017 08:36am

The most important reality for Pakistanis to drastically cut the population growth through education and understanding.Nigeria is another country where rate of birth is more than Pakistan.

R S Chakravarti
Mar 18, 2017 08:38am

As sensible and relevant as usual.

Mar 18, 2017 08:48am

This very much applies to India as well,Sir!

Great article in a real sense.

Mohammad Khan
Mar 18, 2017 08:54am

I agree with you Sir 100%.

Mar 18, 2017 09:00am

Q: What's the difference between a winner and a loser?

A: A loser constantly whines about problems and looks for excuses, but a winner turns liabilities into assets.

Roy Meddock
Mar 18, 2017 09:04am

Excellent and origina anlysis. The problem is that orthodox religion is opposed to birth control/family planning.

Mar 18, 2017 09:12am

Dr sb's analysis may be based on a sincere attempt to bring reforms but it is mistaken and misleading. Pakistan's​ biggest problem is not over population but misuse of resources birthed due to either poor policy making or non implementation of good policies.

It is funny that in some parts of the world, governments want their citizens to procreate more and here we are finding ways to decrease our population growth. So, I guess we will be ok if we can stay in a limit.

Moreover, those suggesting that corrupt leadership is the biggest issue should know that unless there is a change from the grassroots aka public these politicians​ are here to stay.

Mar 18, 2017 09:21am

Superb article, wish the people at the helm of affairs had foresight and had some reading habit.

Pakistani american
Mar 18, 2017 09:17am

Excellent article from this writer after a long time

Mar 18, 2017 09:26am

A society where a individual is honored by how much sexual drive he is which reflects in how much wives and children he has how can you convince the people of that society to use contraception?

Mar 18, 2017 09:35am

Mr Hoodbhoy..hats of to you. Each time I read or hear you you make so much sense. Besides You and Hasan Nissar there aren't too many of your breed in Pakistan. Indian in Sydney.

Mar 18, 2017 09:36am

As always insightful article from Professor Hoodbhoy and Dawn.

The greatest enemy of any society is Ignorance and Denying the Facts...............

Mar 18, 2017 09:33am

Yes population can be described as mother of all issue. No wonder, Scandinavian countries are most peaceful & prosperous to live.

Population that is educated & equipped is asset, but over-population denies these in first place.

Nadeem haider rizvi
Mar 18, 2017 09:41am

Reality based Article. And good word need to add in our dictionary is "Zarb-e-Tauleed".

Mar 18, 2017 09:38am

Enjoyable read! But that's pretty much all it is. Taking it too seriously will betray our vision of taking over the planet.

Mar 18, 2017 09:46am

"Fearing the wrath of violent ultras, Pakistan abolished the ministry for population planning many years ago." Population planning was devolved by the 18 amendment to the provinces just like essential subjects of health, education etc.

Mar 18, 2017 09:54am

Hate is biggest enemy.

Mar 18, 2017 09:57am

This is to the publishers of Dawn. Sir, do you have Urdu publication. If not, kindly consider and endeavour.That is the best service you can do to your country and the whole region. Masses need to be made to think with common sense. Information and knowledge needs to reach the common man.

Mar 18, 2017 10:01am

Pakistan's only and number one enemy is the delusion that we have caught up with developed nations, contrary to the fact that we can be developed unless and until we educate ourselves as a nation. When people are educated as a nation there are born people with Iqbal's Khudi (higher conscious) which they call God's conscious/wisdom . Unfortunately Pakistani people have made their ignorance their strength, and no one can dare to point out them they are backward/third world nation, with more than 90 percent population lacking basic facilities i.e. access to safe drinking water.

Mar 18, 2017 09:59am

@Roy Meddock orthodox religion may not have defined the guidelines for the current scenario. Interpretation is the real issue.

Shehzad Shah
Mar 18, 2017 10:06am

Population growth rates decline as female education and empowerment increases. In Pakistan that is probably a more achievable target, though hardly a cakewalk. At least it doesn't carry as much of the 'sharm-o-hiya' stigma, though there is a fair bit of that bugbear obstructing female advancement in the country as well.

Mar 18, 2017 10:14am

So our enemy number one are the people who have not yet born. Wonderful!

Mir Puri
Mar 18, 2017 10:20am

I thought it is india.

Mar 18, 2017 10:21am

Mr. Sanjay Gandhi realized this in 1970's but took a wrong approach. India should serve as an example that how politicians did not take care of this over population problem for the vote bank and now suffering enormously. Good article professor and a fan of your good work.

Mar 18, 2017 10:22am

Reminded me about the css essay 2016."We need to be our own best friend First,because we fall too easily into traps being our own worst enemy.

We OURSELF are enemy NO 1 of our own..


Secular Pathan
Mar 18, 2017 10:26am

Excellent article sir, reminded us about an important issue

Mar 18, 2017 10:39am

Most underdeveloped nations have this uncontrolled population growth menace and everywhere it's pretty much same situation as Prof. Hoodbhoy described. Just look at India ..which would've​/ could've realized so much more growth & prosperity but for it's huge population.. & learn.

Mar 18, 2017 10:40am

100% applicable for both Pak and India

Mar 18, 2017 10:41am

Very well said. Only a few talk about this subject.

Mar 18, 2017 10:50am

Rightly pointed towards the important problems of Pakistan.

Mar 18, 2017 10:49am

Excellent analyis of the issue, needless to say. May I humbly point out that this article, though far better than the mentioned population welfare department website, happens to be in English language, too!

Mar 18, 2017 10:50am

Take the example of a small room. If there are two people, even three, the room will suffice. Imagine if there are twelve occupants.There will be friction on a permanent basis! If I am not wrong, one of the reasons of the Second World War was that the Germans wanted "Liebansraum" (Living space or room). We are still being affected by the results of that war. The disappearing space on Pakistani roads is already evident which results in a lot of bad manners. Professor Hoodbhoy is always to the point.

Mar 18, 2017 10:47am

This is a beautifully executed article by Hoodobhoy. He is determined to proof that the biggest problem of Pakistan is not corruption but something else altogether!?!?!? To be honest, the largest problem is WATER. Population is a priority...true...but without clean governance no one is ever going to pay heed. For the rulers, having un educated drones are good voters. The more the merrier. You cant fix environment, healthcare, merit without fixing the government functions first.

Abdul Rehman
Mar 18, 2017 11:03am

@Kavita says: It's equally applicable to India..

The ideal fertility rate is 2.1. All South Indian states like Karnataka, AP, Kerala and Tamil Nadu which have very high literacy rates have achieved this magic 2.1 ratio in the 1990s. North India has 2.9 and Pakistan has 4.1 children per woman.

Unlike China, You cannot force people to have less children. The people need to be educated first so that they know the pros and cons of population control and family planning. It is not rocket science..

Mar 18, 2017 11:07am

extremely well said!

Abdul Rehman
Mar 18, 2017 11:13am

@Samir,India : This very much applies to India as well, Sir!

Only in less literate North India, not in South India where all the states have 2.1 ideal fertility rate.

Mar 18, 2017 11:15am

Its awesome Dr. that you explained it in mathematical terms. In India, while the birthrate has come down, the urgency to improve contraception still exists. Its always pleasure to read your articles.Thanks. sid

Mar 18, 2017 11:24am

If both India and Pakistan had controlled population growth, only to the extent that the current population was only about 80% of what it actually is, their poverty figures would have come down to almost nil.

Siddhartha S
Mar 18, 2017 11:31am

The past several generations in India have grown up under the pressure of the "hum do, hamareiN do" slogan for family control. The impact was mainly on the middle class because they understood the need and the economics of smaller families. The rich did not have to care, and in any case their tribe was a small one. The poor on the other hand needed more hands to earn and support the family given their lower earning ability. So today you find a more prosperous middle class with two or less children per couple, while a large section of the economically underprivileged has more children that they cant afford to educate. Obviously educating women is extremely important.

Mar 18, 2017 11:28am

South India almost reached replacement population growth in Kerala and Tamil Nadu population is on decline. Only in North India population is growing but that will also come to normalcy in few years.

Farrukh zaman
Mar 18, 2017 11:34am

Excellent article. I wouldn't mind if it is published everyday of the week. The sad fact is that those who need to do something about this problem do not even think of it, what to say of having it as a priority. Its a shame that population growth rate of Pakistan is highest in the region and sooner than we think may be so in the world.

Sardar Alam
Mar 18, 2017 11:38am

One other reason the population is exploding is the urge to have a male child.

Farrukh zaman
Mar 18, 2017 11:38am

Excellent article. Wouldn't mind if it is published every day of the week. The sad fact is that it is not even in the thoughts of those who should be doing something about it much less in their priorities. Its a shame that Pakistan has the highest population growth rate in the region and sooner than we think may be so in the world.

Mar 18, 2017 11:35am

i think this needs to be addressed in every platform against the politicians as a benchmark, so they can take the action required in the rightful conclusion of over population...

Mar 18, 2017 11:40am


u said it right... and we must stop bashing eachother...

Mar 18, 2017 11:46am

@nadir baloach. True, hope the people who matter get this through their thick head.

Mar 18, 2017 11:46am

@AMIT KOHLI Not many in India too.

sekhar Bhatta
Mar 18, 2017 11:51am

Excellent and thought provoking article although,the views projected might be politically incorrect.People need to listen the rationalist and physicist like ,Prof. Hoodbhoy ignoring the opinion of apologists and of course,the fundamentalists.

Mar 18, 2017 11:56am

@Abdul Rehman north India and present Pakistan was used for military recruitment by British, so there is less trend of education historically. Nevertheless that's not an excuse for not educating your people, especially the women

Abdul Rehman
Mar 18, 2017 11:56am

Education and Family Planning go hand in hand. In South India, Family Planning propaganda and measures started way back in the early 1970s. It took 30 to 40 years for the population to get educated and follow Family Planning voluntarily to achieve the ideal replacement rate of 2.1.

Pakistan has not even started addressing the population problem. You are looking at 30 to 40 years at the least to have a controlled population growth. It spells disaster for the country and the writing is on the wall. Wake up Pakistani Government before it is too late.!!

Mar 18, 2017 11:59am

The developed Nations like US, European countries and others around the world are worried about the increasing ratio of unemployment, yet, rulers in Pakistan are indifferent to the threat that is growing gradually. Unemployment is one of the major cause of extremism and terrorism. The population growth and employment ratio are inversely proportional to eachother. The days ahead seem to be leading towards doom if the problems are not dealt with properly. An alarm on time by Prof. Hoodbhoy.

Mar 18, 2017 12:09pm

Dr you sure did a great job in explaining this. Thank you.

Good strong leadership with high morals/bravery to face anger of the Ultra Rt Wingers is need of the time. Problems can be solved with one China policy in Pakistan also, it was critical of China's success in controlling their population. Apart of Baluchistan, GB most areas of Pakistan are populated beyond imagination and it will only get worst. People of Pakistan need to get the Instant frog jump shock and they must elect leaders who will work towards solving this population issue once in for all. This article of yours also applied to the rest of the South Asia with their population to density ratio is not so good either.

I knew Pakistan's population was too much, but I never thought it will get this bad in the future. I corrected myself today.

"When proven wrong, the wise man will correct himself and the ignorant will keep arguing." -Imam Ali :)

Mar 18, 2017 12:15pm

The Pakistan and Indian governments should not bow to fundamentalists of any religion and strictly implement family planning programs. The stress must be on male contraception as it is easy, more effective and it has less side effects compared to women sterilisation methods. A less populated nation is a healthy nation. Pakistan and India must co-operate and conduct joint policies for the benefit of both

Mar 18, 2017 12:19pm

Very educating article, No one will ever understand what this brilliant professor is trying to say...In Europe the population built up of whites is 1.38 percent and the Muslims in Europe are growing at the rate of 8 percent, which is good for Europe and not for the third world countries. God save Pakistan...can not say any more than this.

Syed F. Hussaini
Mar 18, 2017 12:23pm

The information explosion will check the population explosion.

"The world's effective capacity to exchange information through two-way telecommunication networks was 0.281 exabytes of (optimally compressed) information in 1986, 0.471 in 1993, 2.2 in 2000, and 65 (optimally compressed) exabytes in 2007.[3]" Wikipedia

Mar 18, 2017 12:26pm

A well deliberated article

Mar 18, 2017 12:31pm

Do not assume India does have the same problem. India has a problem that many parts of South & West India are doing well but states UP & Bihar are doing badly. The problem is today not seen due to internal migration within the country. Another part of the Indian problem is that the rich & middle class have taken steps to control their birth rates but the poor have been laggard and this is mainly driven by a mixture of economics ( a belief that more working hands are useful) , education and health care access ( a large part of those who see high infant / child mortality rates are unlikely to adopt birth control measures).

Mar 18, 2017 12:30pm

100% appreciable article.

Mar 18, 2017 12:35pm

Is this the problem specific to pakistan or is affecting the whole muslim community around the world?

Mar 18, 2017 12:33pm

Blaming excess population is like bad workman quarrelling with his tools. The problem is inability to benefit from Human Resource.

Mar 18, 2017 12:34pm

Blaming excess population is like bad workman quarrelling with his tools. The problem is inability to benefit from Human Resource.

Mar 18, 2017 12:41pm

@Samir,India No, It doesn't apply to India. Do google.

Mar 18, 2017 12:51pm

Very good write up is anyone influencial listening ?

Raja parekh
Mar 18, 2017 12:57pm

And what is the solution of this? The government should provide free or subsidised food, shelter, power , education, gas etc to the family which has just one or two child. This family must be provided insurance for all the risks freely. This should be the policy and should be declared publicly. Whoever wishes will come forward.

Zafar ihsan
Mar 18, 2017 12:54pm

Brilliant as expected. Wonder where will Pakistanis bury the dead since we'll be ruining out of space. Government should issue a decree to start burying the dead upright since they will never take on the clerics and launch family planning

Mar 18, 2017 01:05pm

Thinking is necessary which brings future planning and hence solutions. Taboo of contraception needs to be addressed but lack of literacy is a hindrance. Healthcare system in Pakistan is countering the rise in growth to an extent though.

Mar 18, 2017 01:06pm

The question is if the populations grows as fast as predicted, how are these people going to get food and a place to live. Unless other countries offer jobs, it is going to be a nightmare. With Trump and other leaders of west banning entries of muslims, I wonder if anybody can stop starvation. Many conservative people tell us that He who gives us life, gives us food. That may be true, but if people did not work abroad as second are citizens to remit money back home, nobody will help us.

Mar 18, 2017 01:03pm

Brilliant piece! May your tribe of writers multiply exponentially.

Krish chennai
Mar 18, 2017 01:19pm

Professor Saab, great article, but please do spell out the solutions. Everybody standing shoulder-to-shoulder in the available land in the future is a far cry, because of horizontal growth - skyscrapers and so on. Take the example of Singapore, which would have among the highest densities of population in the world, but coping very well, with horizontal growth, sea reclamation with solid waste management, and excellent mass rapid transportation in place. Reminds me of Albert Einstein's quote " Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world, he who understands it, earns it, he who doesn't, pays it " Population control is extremely crucial no doubt, but the political and economic think-tanks have to jointly come up with clear growth ideas for the economy.

Mar 18, 2017 01:32pm

@Abdul Rehman Im South India, its not 2.1 but 1.6.

Abdul Rehman
Mar 18, 2017 01:30pm

@Sardar Alam says: One other reason the population is exploding is the urge to have a male child.

Yes, The only way to overcome this gender bias is by educating the girl child. It is the pride of South Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

Mar 18, 2017 01:36pm

Excellent piece of knowledge sharing. There is always a difference between, information and knowledge. Information can come from any corner, with absurd data having no practical workout. As what we had in 70's, 80's & 90's in relation with this article. Whereas, knowledge is based on analysis as if what around us, comparing it with reality, and using the wisdom of what God has given to us. May God help the country men to have the courage and wisdom accept the reality in its true form, Aameen.

Mar 18, 2017 01:38pm

Why is it that the poor, under educated lot land up with the largest number of children ?.....the tongue-in-cheek answer is because they mostly live along the railway tracks. So the answer is to educate them.....and with education comes upward social mobility.....getting you away from the railway tracks.

Zahid Khursheed
Mar 18, 2017 01:40pm

A mathematician explains and explains wonderfully well. An excellent piece. Wake up Pakistan.

Mar 18, 2017 01:47pm

@Abid. True to only to a certain extent.

Mar 18, 2017 01:53pm

@Amin absolutely right. Mathematical formulae don't solve the theories of life and evolution. Pakistan is a regional power today because of its population. Our great ancestors survived and expanded their kingdoms all the way from persian gulf to south east, through this strategy. Inshallah, Pakistan's population shall grow leaps and bounds even while the major powers shall struggle to maintain their headcount.

Mar 18, 2017 01:56pm

Completely agreed. It is amazing that not one single public leader has even begun talking about this national priority. If we do not start talking and discussing, how will we find solutions and educate the public? The spineless "leaders"are watching the disaster but mum is the word

Mar 18, 2017 01:58pm

Urgently need a one child policy to stop this mad population trend. At time of nikah there should be an undertaking that the couple will not have more than a single child. Second birth should be penalized accordingly.

Mar 18, 2017 01:59pm

A very good and enlightening Article supported with logical assumptions and facts as well. I wish and hope that Indian media re-produce such articles in both English and vernacular languages as well. In India, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and few other states are still responsible for unconrolled population growth, of course, because of certain demographic & religious reasons and low level of literacy in rural belts. States, in India, having good level of literacy have been able to control population to a large extent.

Mar 18, 2017 02:03pm

Where examples like grain of rice, 'chawal', for exponential growth in weight/numbers, and frogs for virtue of shock and danger of slow death are to bring home the message of dangerously explosive population growth, there first and foremost need is proper education. Without meaningful education of masses in life and physical sciences and technologies, it is hopeless. As a 'responsible' society, have we provided or are we capable of providing environment and opportunities for the 'new born' to attain its full potential? The answer is emphatic 'no'on both accounts. Education is the most effective solution to all problems afflicting our society.

Mar 18, 2017 02:04pm

Yet another Gem From Prof Sb.

Mar 18, 2017 02:06pm

An exccellent article by Professor Hoodbhoy. A real eye-opener. A number of solutions have been suggested to control expected exponential population growth. No one has thought of controlling the exponential growth of the ultras! About time.

y name
Mar 18, 2017 02:09pm

@JA-Australia : So: What are you going to do WITH the population explosion in Pakistan from OZ?

True Pakistani
Mar 18, 2017 02:13pm

Nothing wrong with 400 million, but lets keep it at that and not go any further.

Sadam Hussain
Mar 18, 2017 02:20pm

This catastrophe can be avoided if solid planning and activation of population welfare department for awareness of masses to this situation of coming days.... But a concerning matter is that why we are depending on religious scholars for delivering the lectures on family planning and population control? if one claric is in favour of controlling birth rate and other 10s are against this idea. This fact should be considered in future planning.

Mar 18, 2017 02:36pm

not being prepared !

Mar 18, 2017 02:45pm

Agreed and yes it is true and aftermaths of high population rise will be much worsen. Pakistan need to adopt 1 child policy immediately.

Mar 18, 2017 02:43pm

@nadir baloach 100% agree.

Mar 18, 2017 02:43pm

Have 5 kids not 3, Erdogan tells Turks in Europe ! (to dominate Europe)

Artificial Intelligence, Robots and Automation will replace low skilled workers within 10-15 yrs. what are they going to do after having 5 kids....

Mar 18, 2017 02:54pm

The concern is genuine. However, the Ministry of Population Welfare was disbanded as a result of the unwise 18th Amendment. The abolition of the Concurrent list is the cause.

Mar 18, 2017 02:56pm

Pervez has focused attention to an issue which is affecting the world that is poor. Unfortunately, Muslim countries are the most affected countries by this over population. India also suffers from this as the minority population is growing faster than the majority population. Pakistan can learn a lot from its iron brother, China. One child policy may be the need of the hour for a few years. But can some one bell the cat?

Mar 18, 2017 02:52pm

Yes population boom is the biggest problem we have. It should be stopped and people should be educated. Being said that, why can't we use the current population as our power. Prime example is China where the population is turned into energy and now almost everything is made in China.

Mar 18, 2017 03:17pm

@Mustafa and what that supposed regional power done for the people? Compare poverty levels, lack of basic amenities, lifestyle, with the countries with lesser population. You have large number of people and yet productivity of the nation is way low than many low population countries.

Mar 18, 2017 03:21pm

Population control is least of the priorities of the present government.

Mar 18, 2017 03:19pm

the rich don't have many children because they don't want unpleasant division of property.The middle class control family size ,so that their comfort level is maintained.The poor breed excessively, as they they don't care about feeding,educating and giving proper life to their off springs, but use them as money earners.

Mar 18, 2017 03:24pm

No.1? Corrupt Pakistani politicians. No doubt about it.

Mar 18, 2017 03:48pm

Absolutely correct.

Rayyan AK
Mar 18, 2017 04:17pm

Anybody interested in literature read Inferno by Dan Brown; it deals with population problem.

Mar 18, 2017 04:29pm

"Delay the first, space the second and prevent the third' is the Indian family planning slogan.

All the southern Indian states and to an extent North West have hit the magic replacment level of slightly more than 2.

To cut into infertility period, free bicycles, laptops, free school lunch free textbooks are given to the girl child all measures designed make them stay at school as long as possible.

Try it Pakistan..and dont forget sewerage pipes, protected water supplies, nutritious diet and above all rapid economic growth which proves the best contraceptive

Zunaira Abbbas
Mar 18, 2017 04:37pm

I think that the best way to tackle this problem is to make a policy like China to have one baby per family and implement it in such a way that whoever exceed the limit should be imprisoned and charged fee. Secondly, as the author point out there is a need to make a planning department that is functional and keep checks and balances. Lastly, Gov needs to take the matter in full consideration and make policies that effectively distribute the resources.

Mar 18, 2017 04:34pm

If the writer only write that Pakistan biggest enemy is Politician . There will be thousand comments supporting writer view. But this common sense of over popluation people don't get it . So lack of common sense in our people is other biggest enemy after popluation.

Mar 18, 2017 04:46pm

Population of Pakistan is going to peak at some point in time and then like Europe, Canada, Russia, Japan and many countries of the world is going to slowly but surely come down. Like the Persian story, there is an American story. Before the car came on the streets of American cities, there were horse drawn carriages, there was a prediction that soon the streets of New York will be filled with horse dung. The motor car soon arrived on the streets, and this did not happen. Similarly a technology revolution is happening silently, this is transforming in the way people think. I am reading Hoodbhoy's wonderful article because of technology and so are thousands of others. We all question,

Mar 18, 2017 04:45pm

Funny enough a week ago a bunch of Pakistani's in Canada, were talking about the population bomb and pretty much came to same conclusions. Why Pakistani's in Pakistan like Dr Hoodbhoy are talking about it

Mar 18, 2017 04:51pm

@SAMIR RAHMAN (INDIA) indian population rate have decreased. From 2030 Indian population will decline.

Mar 18, 2017 04:58pm

@INDIAN LOVE. So will Pakistan's population decrease even further.

Mar 18, 2017 04:54pm

Pakistan will suffer from immense poverty if masses are not educated about benefits of small family.

Mar 18, 2017 05:08pm

@Prateik - Thanks for letting us know. I wonder why the writer was telling us the opposite :)

Mar 18, 2017 05:10pm

The populations needs to explode with more chatterbox anchors!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mar 18, 2017 05:18pm

Overgrowing population is a wrong concern to have and is certainly not the "Enemy No.1 of Pakistan". Our nation's biggest challenge and enemy no. 1 of Pakistan is this "Thinking" by our our so-called media moguls which only spread negativity and hopelessness. Everyone of us is responsible to help others, inspire others and become a beacon of light for others. We must not forget great people like Mr. Sattar Edhi, Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, Engr. Atta ur Rehman, Dr.Abdus Salam to name a few who have inspired the lives of millions with their positivity, charisma and talents. I also do not agree with writers solution for the situation. Every child is actually an economic opportunity sitting idle to be utilized. A child is not only born with a mouth & stomach but also with a mind, two hands and two legs. If Korea, Singapore and China can become something by utilizing the Master Plan that Pakistan was supposed to use then why cant we...?

usman khan
Mar 18, 2017 05:18pm

Always on the side of truth and rational. we wish that such writings based on realism would bring the ultras and leaders out of their egos and misinterpretations of religion.. A counter narrative like this supported by religious moderates is the need of time..

Amir ali khan
Mar 18, 2017 05:25pm

Illiteracy , conservatism and misinterpretation of religion .

musannif khan
Mar 18, 2017 05:27pm

the professor didn't recognize the real enemy of Pakistan or purposely ignored it. our enemy is corruption, usurpation, Peculation, bad governance and in particular distance from the teachings of islam. we are seeing that some highly overpopulated countries are well developed and prosperous. kindly try to point out the the true reasons of our backwardness.

M. Ahmed
Mar 18, 2017 05:31pm

Education is the only answer.

Abraham haque
Mar 18, 2017 05:36pm

@Syed sir what do you consider reasonable economic growth Dar says we have it but who benefits from it, not common Pakistani

musannif khan
Mar 18, 2017 06:00pm

The professor didn't recognize the real enemy of pakistan or purposely ignored it. our major enemies are corruption, Peculation, Usurpation, bad governance and in particular, the distance from the teachings of islam. we see many overpopulated countries in our neighbors they are developed and prosperous. kindly try to point out the true reasons behind our backwardness.

Imran jafri
Mar 18, 2017 06:04pm

But the question is what those countries which controlled their population achieved? They have aged population. They are importing people from outside. What is our objective after all? There is no shortage of rizq, it is our ever increasing lust which is causing problems.

Mar 18, 2017 06:13pm

@wellwisher . Correct, poor people have many children as a means of support in old age. They expect some will not live long, some may not do well, some will succeed, so more the offspring the better chances of being looked after in old age. There is a reason for everything. To break this cycle it is important that children are educated and so the chances of better employment increases. Education for girls is the key to a better future for the family, for society, for the nation, for the world. Simple fact.

Mar 18, 2017 06:15pm

Don't worry 1 day 1 Pakistan will drop their pride on their homeland and pop problem will be resolved.

Mar 18, 2017 06:14pm

Generally I don't comment but today I really want to thank u Mr writer. Not only Pakistan but India is on the same track on this issue .people are ignorant and politicians are foolish to do or say anything on this subject.

Asif A Shah
Mar 18, 2017 06:19pm

Thank you for writing this article. It is truly an act of public service. One important reason that China managed to provide basic necessities to its people is that for 33 years it followed one child policy. Even now, when China has become relatively rich it follows only two children policy. Pakistani political leaders must educate its people about the benefits of family planning. Sadly, it was a military dictator General Ayub Khan who first warned the nation about the dangers of overpopulation. Since then, no head of the state or political leader has talked about this looming threat of gross overpopulation.Thank you again.

Arshad Basraa
Mar 18, 2017 06:22pm

An other article, of immense important from Dr Hoodbuoy who knows this population bomb shall is waiting to explode if we do not do any thing about this monster.

sajed syed
Mar 18, 2017 06:31pm

@Syed , they have relaxed to get youngster to look after aging population. Aging population goes, new numbers replace and if more born and less die, they will reverse again.

Mar 18, 2017 06:53pm

@javeed lead by example, die and make a diffrence......

Salman Ahmed Shaikh
Mar 18, 2017 06:55pm

Population can be a drag if it is not developed. China is sustaining a big population. India's per capita GDP is now better than 70s and 80s. Food per capita has actually increased as per FAO. Problem is redistribution. Children in agrarian societies are old parent's insurance. When the economy will further further transform and cost of living will become high, the trend of population growth will come down eventually.

Dr tariq
Mar 18, 2017 06:56pm

Dear Sir excellent article in simple and straight forward manner.Congrats

Mar 18, 2017 07:01pm

Prof Hoodbhoy, A very well thought out analysis. Some years ago I had read that to have the same standard of living as the USA for every human on this planet, we will need the resources of 7 more planet earths. Scientists have also done experiments with a pair of rats being given a fixed but abundant amount of food and space. At first all is well. But eventually food and space runs out and total misery ans disease and shoortened lifespans result. This issue is not just Pakistan's problem but is a worldwide problem. Is humanity going to keep expanding till the inevitable implosion comes?

Hafeejul Alam
Mar 18, 2017 07:11pm

Hats off to Professor Hoodbhoy for depicting about population explosion,a very vital problem not only for Pakistan but for the whole of South Asia,albeit the situation in Pakistan has been made worse by the ultras. The progressive people of Pakistan should come forward to support the views expressed by the Professor and act accordingly. Islam encourages science and learning,not the closed-minded attitude.

Raja farhat Abbas
Mar 18, 2017 07:15pm

Inventor of chess Sessa an ancient Indian Minister request his Maharaja to give him wheat according to the wheat and chessboard problem. The ruler laughs it off as a meager prize for a brilliant invention, only to have court treasurers report the unexpectedly huge number of wheat grains would outstrip the ruler's resources.This is the true version how chess was invented and the reward the inventor wanted.

Shiraz Ahsan
Mar 18, 2017 07:17pm

I respect Professor Hoodbhoy but I totally disagree with Professor Hoodbhoy Yes, if a person is poor and does not have sufficient means then he should bring only 1 or 2 babies but if a person is rich and have sufficient means to afford 5,6 children or as much as he could bring then No Problem.

Shiraz Ahsan
Mar 18, 2017 07:18pm

@wellwisher I 100 % agree with you.

Mar 18, 2017 07:25pm

China progressed after 1 child policy. In this age of farming using tractors, good medical advancements to prevent and treat most childhood diseases etc, more than 1 or 2 children will tax a nation and cause chaos down the line.

Mar 18, 2017 07:26pm

Overpopulation is a runaway population and the sure road to disaster. Better start controlling now or Guaranteed misery as described P. Hoodbhoy!,

MG- Washington
Mar 18, 2017 07:30pm

@Matiya No, it is the people. Don't blame politicians for everything. When mullah, social leaders, media, schools, all spout the same ignorance you can't blame the politicians. One factor, among others, that brings down population is education of girls.

Hidden truth
Mar 18, 2017 07:33pm

Illiterates will never learn. In fact they'll dig their own grave.

Mar 18, 2017 07:37pm

Your article has the answer to the question raised by you. Who provided food and space for increase in population of Pakistan from 24 million in 1947 to 200 million in 2016 ?

No one is against population control but your mathematical projections are not enough to scare people.


imran ali
Mar 18, 2017 07:46pm

I remember when I took admission in medical college 1973,there used to be family planning department advice and Contraceptive materials...

Syed Sharfuddin
Mar 18, 2017 07:46pm

The essay is based on the wrong premise that Rizq means only food and drink. The word Rizq originates from Arabic and has a wider meaning on the sense of provisions , ie everything a human being needs from cradle to grave provided the needs are not confused with want and greed. Apply this meaning and the essay falls into pieces.

dost MOHammed
Mar 18, 2017 07:47pm

Parvez, you're assuming the doubling rate decline (second derivative) is constant. But you're right of course on the main point, the slowing of the population growth rate is not enough to prevent greater misery in the country. Especially for a net importer country with low levels of agricultural productivity, industralization, and one of the most inefficient justice systems worldwide. Everyone knows the solution, but we just don't have the culture to implement it: better education from class zero to university graduation, and the development of a fair, meritocratic society where one can depend on basic civic institutions to act effciently, consistently, and reliably. The first factor will reduce population growth rates and the second will ensure that those who do have the honour of being Pakistani don't go psycho.

asif Ali
Mar 18, 2017 07:46pm

@Syed , think if China did not controled his population, where they stand today.

Mar 18, 2017 07:58pm

Sorry Doctor Sahib. Your argument is similar to what many claim over staffing brought the downfall of PIA. It is also outdated than anything else. I can see the societies with poor population growth struggling with ageing population and reverting back aggressively, recent example is China. Forget about religion,also the stats claim you make, bending the law of nature is where the problem starts. Education is the solution, not population control.

Mar 18, 2017 07:59pm

One more thought-provoking article by the author ...Thanks !

Saeed choudhary
Mar 18, 2017 08:01pm

Can't be done without a political change. That, by the grace of God, cannot come in this system of election in which the same people or their minions will be thrown up through bradaries, clans, tribes, groups of so called politicians and milbiz.

Syed Ahmed, canada
Mar 18, 2017 08:20pm

Well said, Hoodbhay,

asif Ali
Mar 18, 2017 08:28pm

What Res. Prof Hoodbhoy said is not only for future, It is true every day our life becoming poorer and less healthy, sources because limited sources divided, less forest, animal kingdom, more use of synthetic fertilizer, affecting our health, very sad government have no courage to take some strong action against this dangerous trend.

Shadi Katyal
Mar 18, 2017 08:29pm

Very well and detailed explanation by Prof.Hoodbhoy but unfortunately our continent is washed into superstitions and thus words like every child comes with his own Rizak

Mar 18, 2017 08:31pm

@Amin This article was meant for you !

Mar 18, 2017 08:38pm

@Kavita - In India we need a strong max two child policy law.

Shadi Katyal
Mar 18, 2017 08:36pm

Unless the whole continent thinking changes , population will continue to increase and we have seen how birth control failed and India now has more than 1.2 Billion people. HGow can any govt in power can remove poverty and provide education if the population continued to increase at this pace. We must also look at our death rate as due to improvement in health services the death rate has dropped and this population increased continue despite drop in fertility rate. Beside being an agricu;tural soceity we feel more hands for fields but tractors and equipment can change that mind but it will take time.

Mar 18, 2017 08:41pm

Since many comments have drawn comparison between Pakistan and India, a few numbers may be helpful. Pakistan has a fertility rate of 3.72 and population growth rate of 2.11, and both do not show any declining trend in the foreseeable short term. India has a lower fertility rate of 2.48 and its fertility rate of 1.26 represents a decline of 16% over the past five years. India, with a current population density of 452 (vs 255 for Pakistan) has a long way to go. As for as Pakistan. as the learned professor argues, the time to reverse the trends is now. Nay, yesterday.

Mar 18, 2017 08:45pm

Why can't the growth in population be a potentially productive factor. If we fear the adverse consequences of population growth, why can't we educate , enlighten and train them to be a positive and potent influence on the International arena-or have we totally given up on ourselves?

Rajeev Nidumolu
Mar 18, 2017 09:12pm

Learned professor has missed the solution to the problem that is Kerala model of development.The solution is women education.Kerala has achieved population control equal to China without coercive measures.some North Indian states have women literacy equal to Pakistan and have similar birth .In Kerala the birth rates are similar across all religious communities where the women literacy is over 90%

Kartikay Ungrish
Mar 18, 2017 09:14pm

With all due respect to Dr. Hoodbhoy ( one of my favourite Pakistani). Sir Ur artical is bang on target on most part but i can point out some scientific corrections in it as i have studied population geography quite deeply. " Like all phenomenon in nature. Population growth also works in cycles. That is it first increases, than stabilize and finally starts declining, even if all factors remain same. Case in point Russia, Germany, Australia, Canada etc. But no doubt extreme ignorance about birth control & evils of over population can cast aspersions on theory of population.

Iftikhar Ahmed
Mar 18, 2017 10:07pm

SCAREY!...But true. What are we going to do about it. Why it is happening?..Even I can tell you that. Ignorance! We did not give the due importance to educate our masses, which is absolutely essential for nation building. As a result of this criminal negligence on part of our successive governments and leaders, we have now world's largest population 'Johla' (Illiterates), mostly poor. Most of them fall prey to the various fanatic groups who exploit them for their ulterior motives. We reap what we sowed.

mohammed daud
Mar 18, 2017 10:12pm

Thank you Hoodbhoy for your insight:. I believe it is most suitable time for Pakistan to seriously consider, implement and enforce “Family Planning” in the country. It is so sad to see that millions of our young children from poor families go without food, medical care and education and their parents sometimes selling them for petty amount. .There does not seem any hope of improvement in the near future in the poverty level under the present set up in Pakistan, where a poor man can afford to feed his 6-10 children family. The only remedy seems to resort to “Family Planning” پا کستا ن سے کچھ و فا کیجے ا ہک د و بچو ں پہ ا کتفا کہجے

Human wealth
Mar 18, 2017 10:19pm

Excellent article! If we don't use measurements, mathematics and rationality to manage population growth, nature has its own way of handling the problem through famine, war and deceases. Some of these are probably visible in south Asia Already. Great that the intellectuals in Pakistan are thinking and discussing about it despite religious beliefs.

Mar 18, 2017 10:31pm

Have been saying this for years but how to get the insincere leadership's attention?!! In the 1981 census, the population was recorded around 60M. This year it will likely be close to 200M. That means it has more than trebled in 36 years. There is no way for a state to keep up with providing for such growth, even if it was the world wealthiest! And then we ask what had happened to our society and the prevalence of social evils! In my opinion, population control has to be the top priority for any administration pursuing it on war footing. So much more can be achieved even in this corrupt and limited State if there were less populous to deal with....

Mar 18, 2017 10:40pm

India and only India.

Mar 18, 2017 10:47pm

It's high time Govt wakes up to its responsibility to understand prioritize an address the population issue

El Cid
Mar 18, 2017 11:22pm

There is a major difference between pure theory and actual reality. Mathematical equations cannot be applied to populations in an exponential manner. Bacterial growth is a prime example taught in 'Pragmatics 101'

Syed F. Hussaini
Mar 18, 2017 11:20pm

The information explosion of the yesteryear--vaccines, antibiotics and sundry--triggered this population explosion.

The current information explosion will checkmate this population explosion.

The growth rate of the information technology, too, is exponential--is it lower, higher or equal to the rate of increase in population?

Look at the dazzling number of mobile phones in Pakistan--something unthinkable just about 25 years ago.

Mar 18, 2017 11:30pm

Many of us are under developed because we are over-populated.All the poor nations are all over populated

Mar 18, 2017 11:38pm

Pakistan's number 1 enemy is ignorance. Ignorance breeds conspiracies, ignorance breeds corruption and ignorance breeds people.

You only need to look around the world: when people and women in particular are better educated and fed, the birth rate falls. Parvez Hoodhboy is right in his conclusion but the solution is to radically look at education. Sadly he is also correct that no politician has the courage to stand up to the ultra- religious head cases.

Mar 18, 2017 11:45pm

Every year 0.7 to 0.8 million people are adding in unemployment bank . with exponential growth of population unemployment bank will indeed grow exponentially as well . Unemployment will give all reasons to Corruption and crippling economy .Thanks to Mr Pervaiz hoodbhoy making me realize gravity of that issue .

D Patel
Mar 19, 2017 12:33am

Very innovative way to explain the real danger of unrestricted population growth to commoners with example of second frog and with story of a courtier selling chessboard to a king. So, the government should also be able to understand.

Mar 19, 2017 01:01am

Some if not all goes to you too

shabeena islam
Mar 19, 2017 01:09am

good one

Ahmed ali
Mar 19, 2017 01:14am

To me population explosion second biggest problem. The first one is the fact that hardly anyone considers it such a big problem. Even knowledgeable and well qualified people seem to think its some sort of a strength. I dont know how. Technology is limiting the use if human hands so in the future we dont even need one fourth of our current population, let alone 400 million.

Ahmed ali
Mar 19, 2017 01:15am

@Amin: math and logic here is illogical?? What an ugly argument!!!

Mar 19, 2017 01:27am

@Syed This is preposterous logic. Why not increase our population to 1B then? Go watch the movie Bol.

Mar 19, 2017 04:56am

An eyeopener article indeed. Never thought of that anfle, and anyone should be extremely worried of the near future of Pakistan because water, lack of it, for the population will be the biggest worry naturally, and that too beginning as early as 10-15 years from now as the population grows unbearably and unmanageably after that period... As the author rightly says, after around 35 years, there would be no need to worry, only because the panic then wouldn't allow any time for worrying.... The analogy of the frogs in the kitchen is aptly frightening. Only solution it seems is controlling the population grown beginning NOW.

Mar 19, 2017 05:07am

@nadir baloach Dear Baloach, Regardless of religion or culture, it is a loser attitude to blame others for your circumstance. Unfortunately, it takes about 2 decades of adult life to realize this. Modern Institutions are important for the community - Schools, Free press, Judiciary and Law enforcement. So fight for them. Good luck!!

Mar 19, 2017 05:54am

This is an immense problem in South Asia and I like authors realistis metaphor of shoulder to shoulder. However, we must acknowledged that muslim population is growing by leaps and bounds around the world. It may be due to non acceptance of contraceptives as author mentioned. In India Hindu fertility rate is lot lower than muslims. Here are some statistics;

The fertility rate for Indian Muslim women fell from 4.1 in 2001 to 3.2 in 2010 and is expected to be 2.1 by 2050.

Hindu fertility rates are 2.5, expected to fall to 1.9 by 2050, below the replacement level of 2.1.

Mar 19, 2017 06:11am

Sir, Congratulation for penning an article on population, as many shy away even to discuss in public spaces. The lack of proper scientific education is responsible for explosion. This is common problem of south Asia. Unless religious mind set is discarded, the problems are bound to go grow exponentially.

Mar 19, 2017 07:00am

Lots of mathematics and logic. The end results may not come true.

asif Ali
Mar 19, 2017 07:49am

@zaman , from where you get food, water, fresh air, land to live which is limited with its resources.

Mar 19, 2017 07:53am

@Kavita We have state like Kerala with only population growth almost on the replaceable level and some like Pakistan. This is the disparity of policy implementation in India.

asif Ali
Mar 19, 2017 07:58am

@Salman Ahmed Shaikh ," India's per capita GDP is now better than the 70s and 80s. Food per capita has actually increased as per FAO."Don't forget, they using a huge quantity of synthetic fertilisers, big cities have dangerous polution, forest becoming less every day, progress and wellbeing of people becoming slow and will stop if it continues, anyhow due to some developments in science they facing it, but how long.

Farooq khan
Mar 19, 2017 09:43am

@Amin , do you believe in any science or natural laws? What is the source of your blind philosophy?

Mar 19, 2017 09:48am

@y name There is nothing I can do from Oz, other than vote for Imran Khan who, I believe, is the only candidate even remotely qualified to turn this raw material (young demographic) into an engine of growth and productivity, rather than an incubator for crime and chaos.

Fazal Nizamani
Mar 19, 2017 09:53am

Below figures suggest other reasons of poverty than what Dr Hoodbhoy's theory suggests. Country's Population density. Number of people per square kilometer Singapore 7,987.52 Hong Kong 6,442.65 Pakistan 300

So Pakistan's enemy number one is corruption not the population. With good governance Singapore is one of the most advanced country in the world.

Mar 19, 2017 09:54am

India wasted lot of energy to curb population. Nothing worked. But when India started investing in education the results were very much visible. Education not only helps controlling population but also makes people employable. In India whichever state made advances in education the population level has drastically came down, whereas the states where education level is poor are still suffering from population growth problem.

No Room for Complacency
Mar 19, 2017 10:12am

One may hate Dr. Hoodbhoy for all kind of right or wrong reasons but his scathing critique always has a food for thought in it.

I love the new term, zarb-e-taulid, he has coined in his article.

H Ather
Mar 19, 2017 10:19am

Interesting write up particularly in view of yesterdays news item quoting Turkish prime ministers advice to the Turks living in Europe to have five children instead of three. I wonder if he has the same advice for Turks living in Turkey.

The only contribution our rulers have made to address this issue is keep our health care provisions in shambles letting score of individuals suffering from treatable diseases and meeting the fate ultimate fate.

Mar 19, 2017 10:32am

Spot on Prof Hoodbhoy! In the last 60 years, the population in the sub-continent has more than quadrupled, the land remains the same, the rain fall remains the same. We blame the whole world and our governments for our misery, but our population explosion is the major reason for it. Any quantum of economic deveopment we achieve is offset by the population increase.

Ramal Khan
Mar 19, 2017 11:22am

What a nice article !!!!!

syed baligh kermani
Mar 19, 2017 11:37am

Agree with Prof Hoodbhoy ,unless the mindset changes impossible to achieve desired target.

Mar 19, 2017 01:45pm

Excellent and informative article. Though mullah.s domination can not be lessen in this illiterate society of Pakistan.

Mar 19, 2017 03:25pm

Once again the Professor is correct.

Mar 19, 2017 04:03pm

@kks There are tens of millions of people in Pakistan living in abject misery, many below the poverty line with hardly any food, suffering from poor to malnutrition. Ignorance is not a bliss.

Mar 19, 2017 05:35pm

You are partially correct. South India has already reached replacement levels and so in a very few years you will actually decreasing population in South India. It is the North India which is wholly responsible for India's population growth

Mar 19, 2017 05:42pm

@asif Ali with the current resources it is not possible to sustain self sufficiency . The issue is that the Government has not utilized its bountiful resources and the leaders have indulged in looting and robbing whatever is available. There is no emphasis on education, development, technical expertise, job development. Modernization and globalization. At the current time it has been unable to care for even the existing population - which has spurred the growth of the private sector. Certainly a viable nation can only exist if it is dynamic , modernizes and develops. It will take fundamental reform and a change in attitude and leadership.

m. m. chaudhri
Mar 19, 2017 06:17pm

Pakistan will benefit enormously by making primary schooling a must for all children.

Mar 19, 2017 07:00pm

400 million people means nore demand on natural resources. If we do not control population,nature will find ways to get even . Religion also teaches respect of Nature.

my Comments
Mar 19, 2017 09:25pm

Increase in population is not the danger. Its lack of opportunities for young people, lack of industries and job opportunities and poor education system. That is causing mass unemployment & underemployment. It may be contributing to crime rate as well, when unemployed young people see rich and powerful abusing the system getting richer, while unemployed have no job, no medical healthcare, no clean water etc. Abuse of system allocating hundreds of policemen (salary paid by tax payers), to serve protection of officials, instead of making rounds in residential and commercial areas to protect people who pay their salary through taxes. If system was working properly, increase in manpower could become a source of productive manpower for the country.

Mar 19, 2017 10:37pm

@Amin Anyone believing in a supernatural creator providing sustenance is a contributor to the population explosion.

Imtiaz Khan
Mar 19, 2017 11:41pm

Good to read. We must not forget to talk about the unbridled horse of population growth on every forum, We are sitting on an active fault line, a volcano but shy to discuss this core issue and the justification is Mashreqi Rawayat. The truth is most of the problems our society facing today, directly or indirectly, are linked to uncontrolled population, We just add on but have no budget to educate and groom our kids. Result is growth in crime, hunger, pollution, health issues, lodging and a long list of others.

Mar 20, 2017 12:17am

I endorse the thought of professor Hoodbhai. His concerns are very right and calculated .

Hafeez, Canada
Mar 20, 2017 12:45am

Pakistan has cut birth rate in half(6.6 to 3.6) since 1960 and so has India. Afghanistan has highest birth rate in the region which the author has omitted.

Mar 20, 2017 12:45am

Yes, we need Zarb-e-Tauleed!

Mar 20, 2017 01:20am

@Syed F. Hussaini Why is only Pakistan affected by population explosion and continuing to do so at an alarming growth rate!

Mar 20, 2017 01:42am

Another good article Dr Hoodbhoy. This grave warning is just as applicable and relevant for several states in India.

Dervsaish khan
Mar 20, 2017 02:33am

I suggest that giving incentives will work only. For example distinctly coloured NIC can be issued to those who have only two kids ( according to B forms) and they be privileged to stand in the very start of any cue in Pakistan.

Mar 20, 2017 02:54am

@javeed With due respect to the Professor and his analogy I would raise few questions here for instance he missed the fact that many people will die naturally and leave the chess board. Also in next 25 years there will be many appidamics to control the population, one major population control missing here is availability of birth control facility these days, for which education is most important factor. However his alarm to the nation genuine.

Mar 20, 2017 03:06am

@Talha Seriously??

Mar 20, 2017 05:16am

As always you nailed it Prof.

Mar 20, 2017 05:46am

@my Comments Less population means government finds it easy to provide more job opportunities within government sector .Do the math.

Fazal Karim
Mar 20, 2017 05:56am

Ayoob Khan visualized the perils of population growth and said a time will come when men will eat men. Family Planning virtually ended after his departure. Most inefficient and corrupt persons are managing PWD, what ever foreign aid come is swindled through purchase of vehicles for private use. The worst part of the gravity is none of our leading political parties have any policy or narrative(N) having comfortable majority in assemblies should have taken this issue seriously. What is wrong if people looks towards establishment at thew end.

Mar 20, 2017 06:31am

Indian muslims are not far from pakistani brothers in reproduction growth rate. It will be devastating for india as well

murtaza hakim
Mar 20, 2017 10:26am

This article aptly highlights one of the important issues faced by not only Pakistan but majority of developing economies .

asif Ali
Mar 20, 2017 10:32am

Something creative in our nation.

Syed Shoaib
Mar 20, 2017 11:12am

Did someone ever ponder to grow a "Jungle of a Bamboo plant"- The fastest growing plant in the world.

Most probably Punjab and Sindh are the best places to grow it along the rivers sides.

Bamboo Plant

....Bamboos include some of the fastest-growing plants in the world,[4] due to a unique rhizome-dependent system. Certain species of bamboo can grow 91 cm (3 ft) within a 24-hour .... being used for building materials, as a food source, and as a versatile raw product. Bamboo has a higher specific compressive strength than wood, brick, or concrete and a specific tensile strength that rivals steel....

The other day, Imran Khan was boasting to grow 5 Changa Manga in KPK.

Shouldn't CM of Punjab Shahbaz Sharif accept his challenge?

Mar 20, 2017 11:30am

Wow ! Very nice article. But any takers ?

Mar 20, 2017 12:02pm

"Even so, there will be only room for standing shoulder to shoulder. In such circumstances it is hard to imagine how further reproduction will be physically possible"

We got what you want to say there sir...yeah!

murtaza hakim
Mar 20, 2017 12:13pm

This article aptly highlights one of the important issues faced by not only Pakistan but all the developing and underdeveloped economies.

Mar 20, 2017 12:34pm

What the populace doesn't understand is that matter on earth is limited and our bodies are made from the plants/flesh/liquids that we eat, so more men would mean less plants and flesh to eat, leading to Cannibalism

Ahsan Riaz
Mar 20, 2017 01:06pm

Pakistanis are already getting the shock. For how long we are going to increase our capacity of electricity. Demand directly related to population number, is increasing. How long we shall keep increasing the supply. Apply this scenario to all utilities and consumer goods. There ll be a picture of apocalypse ahead. Wake Up!

Alok Verma
Mar 20, 2017 01:30pm

Dear Sir I follow you on you tube and read your article in dawn I really appreciate your practical views on various subject Good luck to you and your country for better future Regards Alok

Suren Singh Sahni
Mar 20, 2017 01:59pm

Nature will intervene because of climate changes.Once the snow is gone from Himalayan Mountains billions will disappear.

Mar 20, 2017 02:31pm

The way you use the scientific method to break down things makes the argument much more interesting, Well at times Population can be a blessing if somehow we are able to crack it- I don't know how but there can be a way as we know Technology is also developing at an exponential rate, which if those Scientists are right can change the Whole course of Humanity.

Thank you

Naeem ulfateh
Mar 20, 2017 03:57pm

The essay is based on the wrong premise that Rizq means only food and drink. I don't blame the author for it because this is what it means in the Urdu lexicon. The word Rizq originates from Arabic and has a wider meaning in the sense of provisions , ie everything a human being needs from cradle to grave provided the needs are not confused with want and greed. Apply this meaning and the essay falls into pieces.

Mar 20, 2017 04:25pm

@Fazal Nizamani

Singapore and Hong Kong are city states with no hinterland. Hence the high population density. You cannot compare them with other nations unless you are saying that the whole of Pakistan should be an industrialised urban centre and all food imported.

Vijay Reddy Rajput
Mar 20, 2017 05:00pm

Good article by Mr. Hoodbhoy that should ring warning bells in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and even China because all these countries suffer from a high rate of population growth. That said, I must add that the author's numbers and basis of calculation are some what skewed; while taking population growth on the one hand as a calculator, one must also make deductions for depletion in population due to old age, health, accidents, natural calamities and all other kinds of deaths. That not withstanding, there is need for caution that require steps to curtail rampant growth of population. Hope all governments take note.

Ch. K. a. Nye
Mar 20, 2017 05:54pm

@Raja farhat Abbas ... Chess was invented this way Raja sb.? What rubbish! Please do some proper research before coming up with comments like this.

Mar 20, 2017 07:47pm

Excellent Insightful Piece. Couldn't have said it better. The Fertile Riverine lands of the Indo-Gangetic plain that way is the most densely populated region in the world & continues to grow denser. Only when we stop Breeding whether wilfully or forcefully China, will we ever survive this ticking Population Bomb

Mar 20, 2017 07:55pm

Money and things are produced by people.The more you have people the more you will earn provided you have an honest,sincere and effecient government to exploit the talent and potential of man power.Water and other resources can be provided to all if you manage them better,but if you have just one hundred million population under a corrupt government you will end up with scarcity.

Mar 20, 2017 07:57pm

great article.

Mar 20, 2017 08:06pm

@Syed - " If a reasonable economic growth is sustained, and if this vast human capital is trained ..."

these are very important ifs, since this has not happened in last 60 years or so, we can not expect it to happen in next 60.

Mar 20, 2017 08:40pm

A manufacturing unit in india with over ten thousand employees has a great incentive system for population control. For the first child of any employee, the company pays INR 2000 per month for his educational expenses, for the second child zero, and if you have a third child all the above benefits are withdrawn and u get nothing. It has worked wonders and all the blue collered workers and class IV employees, who generally tend to have a bigger family are having either 1 or max 2 kids since the amount is substantial for them and it has become a norm there.

madan bhatia
Mar 20, 2017 08:47pm

Agree with the professor's line of thinking.Education is the key to the development of economy in any Muslim country,more so in Pakistan as it has always depended on foreign aid,employment of its mostly uneducated masses in other Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.Now that source has dried up due to glut of oil in the world market and those Pakistanis working there have returned home en mas.Lesser mouths to feed,more education facilities are paramount to the development of any country.Pakistan should take a cue from its neighbour India in managing its development and in becoming a friendly country in the world.

Mar 20, 2017 09:11pm

I worked in Iran as a family physician in Khomeini era. Oral. Ontraceptive pills were freely available everywhere and was manufactured locally. Result Iran managed to stabilize Their growth rate. Interestingly Iranian religious scholars fully supported contraception,

Mar 20, 2017 09:55pm

Over population and limited resources equal poor quality of life for the masses.

Mar 20, 2017 10:16pm

The misuse and overuse of antibiotics in both human and animal medication is resulting in development of resistant strains of disease-causing bacteria. Perhaps pestilence will cause a population crash before we succumb to war, famine and toxic pollution.

Mar 20, 2017 10:37pm

Population growth rates started dropping in Europe in the 20th century when two things happened. The first is that modern medicine meant that you could expect most of your children to survive into adulthood. The second is the social welfare systems such as old age pensions. Before then, to have a comfortable old age you had to have lots of children so that enough of them would be living a productive life to provide for you in your dotage. Because of cultural and social conservatism there is a time lag before the number of children in each family is reduced.

Mar 20, 2017 11:55pm

Actually, now human beings are multiplying like virus and future of the planet is Dark. At least, I am excepted. I am about 60 now and never ever married. I am not a contributor of this Overpopulation Darkness, but I am very sorry to say that majority of human being is the worst creature of the Universe. Let's hope for the best.

Naseem Khan
Mar 21, 2017 01:16am

Prof Hoodbhoy is right. In 1964, my learned professor of Mathematics and the principal of Adamjee Science College, Karachi Dr. Shaikh used to warn us that over population is the fundamental cause of all our problems. He used to say that corruption, utility shortages, Lack of health care, education and employment all are due to over population. I wish if we could have paid some attention to his thoughts at that time. We are doomed now.

Mar 21, 2017 09:04am

The problem is that our intellectuals refuse to have a good look at the Population Density Map. Swaths of land are lying empty all across the world and all across our country. The right thing is to share the wealth in order to grow more crops and cattle. The right thing is to establish new towns and cities. Terminating reproduction can never be the solution of your problems.

Bilal pardesi
Mar 21, 2017 09:49am

Well said Pervez Hoodbhoy, great article !

Mar 21, 2017 11:26am

@Prakash even some middle eastern countries like bahrain qatar and kuwait .. hence higher per capita incomes ... of course oil revenues also help, but still...

Mar 21, 2017 11:26am

I always admire Professor Sb's articles and this article is no exception. Even this article has made Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus happy. The theory of human populations grow exponentially while food production grows at an arithmetic rate is a pure logic. However, i still think the root cause of man of our problem is lack of education and we have to do something on war footing to eradicate illiteracy.

Sir, i am sure you will agree to me that, the people of subcontinent are suffering from Stockholm syndrome and i believe are enjoying also.

Pls keep on reminding. God bless you

Mar 21, 2017 12:03pm

Enemy number one of Pakistan is ignorance of majority of its citizens, lack of modern education of its masses, religious fundamentalism, lack of strong democratic set up. Majority of the people have no say in the governance of Pakistan due to lack of proper education and an understanding of current world affairs. They are still living in the past.

Madan khanna
Mar 21, 2017 12:31pm

A beautiful article and it is time that we understand to what Prof. Pervez is trying to convey. India has met with considerable success especially with urban population and still a lot of work has to be done. Pakistan can perhaps listen to the logical Pervezbhai and start implementing some measures for future generations to live in peace and harmony. Less population burden will be a boon to both India and Pakistan.

Omer Admani
Mar 21, 2017 02:02pm

Sir, space is infinite-- vertically. As the cities grow, we get taller buildings.

Mar 21, 2017 02:04pm

@Mustafa Your ignorance is truly shocking.As is your self delusion. It is mathematics that has helped unlock the mysteries of life and evolution. The whole universe is constructed according to mathematical formulae.And it is man that has upset the balance or meezan which God ordered to maintain. Look around at the the advanced nations of today. Are they successful because of their population or because of the quality of that population?

Madan khanna
Mar 21, 2017 02:11pm

@Madan khanna

Ravindra Nath has assessed the present position in Pakistan. Perhaps Pakistan can if it wants modernize its Education system. While Deeni education is must, but at the same time modern education is missing. Hardly a small percentage of population gets good education. I.I.M or I.I.T. are distant dreams in Pakistan but certainly basic education can be improved. In contrast Indian education system is competing with the World's best. As I was born what is now Pakistan and visited it some time ago and found that the system there is still of 1950's. You have good people who can certainly take up educating young children with modern system which can benefit not only families but the entire nation of Pakistan.

Omer Admani
Mar 21, 2017 02:16pm

Also, the higher birth rates are mostly in rural areas. My understanding is (from experience) that they generally have 8, 9 children in these areas so that the offsprings become future providers of the families. These kids start working at ages of around 10 and support their family. It is a necessity, not a choice.

Mar 21, 2017 02:24pm

Enemy is corruption and wrong allocation of resources.

Mar 21, 2017 04:39pm

"Fearing the wrath of violent ultras, Pakistan abolished the ministry for population planning many years ago." Although a wonderful article, I totally disagree with this explanation. These ultras are only tools in the hand of the elite. The incompetent elite cannot make profit unless labor cost is minimal. They need poor and growing population to maintain endless supply of cheap labor. Qualified and educated labor will make them irrelevant. Here is where violent religious ultras enter the game. You want them to be controlled, you need to control the incompetent elite first.

Rao Nisar
Mar 21, 2017 05:48pm

Prof. Hoodbhoy always bring a good argument and writes on burning issues. However, I disagree with him on the population explosion. The country has already become a "ghetto" with 10 million children out of school, 10 million addicts and almost half of the population unable to meet both ends. Corruption all around, loot and plunder in 'all the organizations' in the words of ex-chief justice of Pakistan should be the first concern of the population. In my opinion it is good if the population of Pakistan doubles in 35 years. This way 400 million will definitely bring a revolution like the poors did in France. . . . . .

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