It was to the surprise of everyone that during the routine registration the census team came across a man having as many as 54 children. Abdul Majeed, a resident of Nushki, has married six times and fathers 42 living children while 12 have died. Two of his wives had passed away but he had married two more after their death and currently is living with 42 children, 22 sons, 20 daughters and four wives. This is not the first case in the province. A case of such type had also appeared in the provincial capital where a man, identified as Jan Muhammad, had three wives and 36 children in the very provincial capital with expressed desire to increase his family to as many children as he can.
In both the above-mentioned cases, these men were not educated enough and mostly probably driven by the religious motives of increasing their family to the maximum. But this speaks volumes about the population control apparatus, specially the Population Welfare Department (PWD) in Balochistan that has been functioning in the province for decades. The population control mandate was federal subject which was devolved to the province following 18th amendment. It has its district offices in the entire province, barring a few. But neither any conspicuous media campaigns, community engagements, seminars are seen nor any manpower working proactively to address the issue of population increase in Balochistan. The increase of population can only be controlled if the masses are persuaded about the multiple hazards of growing one’s family beyond one’s resources. This can be acquired if the eligible couples are registered in each district and taught to plan each pregnancy by the use persuasive methods and religious text.
While the ongoing census would is underway, one only expects population figures to be astounding following the data is available for analysis and research. As for now, Pakistan stands the 6th most populated country in the world. Pakistan even leaves behind Bangladesh, Russia, Egypt and many more countries and expected to even leave behind Indonesia, Brazil and United States that stand at 5th, 4th and 3rd most populated nations respectively. Pakistan Bureau of Statistics 2014-15 contraceptive performance report comes up with alarming projection, predicting that Pakistan’s population is going to jump to 227 million from current estimated 180 million people.
In his essay on The Principle of Population in 1788 Thomas Robert Malthus very rightly argued that populations grow exponentially i.e doubling with each cycle while food production grows at an arithmetic rate i.e by the repeated addition of a uniform increment in each uniform interval of time. However, the increase of population in Pakistan in general and in Balochistan in particular is viewed as not a much serious problem owing to factors that follow. Firstly, the religious conservatism is rampant in the society does not allow the people be convinced easily for planning their families. Many even come up with references from basic sources of Sharia to justify their claim for increasing the size of their family to their best. There is no doubt that God has made provision in abundance in this world but mismanagement of the things have rendered billions of children starve to the death. Malnutrition is a very common problem in Pakistan and out of 20 districts in Pakistan 10 fall in Balochistan where children undergo caloric poverty, let aside the deprivation from quality education and civic opportunities.
The average household in Balochistan is 6 to 8 children. The concept of child spacing is almost non-existent in the province. Among many other factors desire for male children, desire for increasing the earning hands, and desire for tribal prestige are also factors that increase the household size. This unplanned increase in the population leads many children malnourished, ill taught and prone to mortality. If by chance, the children survive, many get entangled in the criminal maize, poverty and a diseased population, multiplying problems not only for the parents but also for the society. Mother Mortality Rate (MMR) and Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) are also alarming high in Balochistan when compared to the other province. Under such critical situation one only hopes that the quarters concerned and all the stake holders rise to the occasion to bring a change for good.
Published in The Balochistan Point on April 2, 2017