ISLAMABAD: Former PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar on Wednesday called upon mainstream political parties representative participating in a dialogue to convince their party heads to play their role in population control as they agreed that family planning was imperative for development of the country.
He was speaking at a consultative dialogue on, ‘Prioritising Population Issues and Family Planning in Political Parties Manifestos’ organised by the Population Council in Islamabad.
The consultative dialogue was attended by members of all major political parties including Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Balochistan National Party (BNP), Balochistan Awami Party (BAP), Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), and Awami National Party (ANP).
In her welcome remarks, Country Director Population Council Dr Zeba Sattar stated that it was important to align manifestos of political parties with Council of Common Interest (CCI) national action plan 2018 to reduce Pakistan’s rapid population growth rate.
The Population Council cited national data on the cross-sectoral impact of rapid population growth on Pakistan’s development indicators and stressed the need for sustained political commitment to achieve population stabilisation in Pakistan.
PML-N Senator Sadia Abbasi stressed the importance of mass awareness campaigns on family planning issues and said political parties should lead from the front in this regard. Poorest sections of the society must be targeted though comprehensive family planning programmes in the country.
Former deputy speaker of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, Mahmood Jan emphasised to build a consensus to tackle rapid population growth beyond party lines and reiterated his party’s commitment to prioritise population planning for well-being of the people of Pakistan.
Balochistan Minister for Finance and Food Zmarak Khan (ANP) quoted the example of Bangladesh where religious leaders led the process of achieving sustainable population growth through their sermons. He also suggested redefining of NFC award which heavily depends upon population size and disincentivise smaller provinces to lower their fertility rate.
Emphasising the importance of mother and child health, former member of Balochistan Assembly and Deputy Secretary General Women wing of Jamaat-i-Islami, Samina Saeed said mass awareness on birth spacing which also has religious endorsement must be propagated.
She stressed the new national narrative which is based on the concept of Tawazun, and which is derived from the teaching of Islam needs to be propagated through media.
MPA Ali Khurshidi, a representative of MQM in Sindh, stated that Pakistan’s high fertility rate was an issue of national importance, and all political parties should join hands in tackling the high trajectory of growth.
“Revitalisation and empowerment of local governments is vital to improve situation as availability of contraceptives at basic health unit will improve access,” he said.
MPA Sanaullah Baloch (BNP) from Balochistan put forward a three-point agenda for all political parties to include in their manifestos. These include joint efforts to achieve balance for sustainable population growth to reduce the pressure on natural resources like agriculture, water, and mineral resources.
Published in Dawn, February 2nd, 2023
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