Pakistan’s unsustainable population growth

In addition to its continually increasing debt, Pakistan faces another concurrent danger: a large and increasing population showing no sign of decreasing. Obviously, the large population requires tremendous resources to support the basic necessities, such as food, health infrastructure, schools, and housing. That means more money, which the government does not have and will require more deficit spending, more borrowing, and more debt. Unfortunately, despite the reckless spending by the current government, no one in Pakistan is considering the serious implications and consequences of a large population. They act as if this problem does not exist. It is the elephant in the room that no one sees or wants to admit is there. The question every Pakistani, politician, and bureaucrat must ask is “How much money does the country need to support the current large and future expanding population?”

As of July 2019, the population of Pakistan was estimated at 217,457,428. It has grown from 40,488,030 in 1955, which is a 437% increase or 6.72% a year for 65 years. The current yearly growth rate is estimated at 2.04% with a fertility rate of 3.73%. The current density per km is 281 compared to 53 in 1955. Pakistan ranks fifth in population in the world. World meter info projects the population to be 338,013,196 by 2050. However, I project 410,335,019 by 2050,which will mean a population density at 438 or 450. However, it will still rank fifth in population in the world. Regardless, the fertility rate will stand at 3.55 as it is now, which, on the average, will increase the population by approximately 4.4million a year with no end in sight.

For the education sector, this population growth will require 140,000 classes each year and hiring at least as many teachers. If an average teacher makes Rs 30,000 a month, the total cost of the teachers will be Rs. 4,200,000,000 per month or Rs. 50,400,000,000 a year to support the new crop of children every year. Obviously, this does not include the cost of buildings, books, furniture, and administration. And if we do not educate all children, then Pakistan must be ready for an expanding unschooled population who would not understand the consequences of having too many children and would have no appreciation of using birth control.

The question is whether Pakistan has the resources to produce the amount of food needed to support the current population of 217,457,428 or the projected population of 410,335,019 in 2050

In addition to basic schooling, consider how much it costs to feed these children. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organizations (FAO) states that “Good nutrition is our first defense against disease and our source of energy to live and be active. Nutritional problems caused by an inadequate diet can be of many sorts, and when they affect a generation of youngsters, they can lower their learning capacities, thus compromising their futures, perpetuating a generational cycle of poverty and malnutrition, with severe consequences on both individuals and nations.” I do not expect that Pakistan can or will provide good nutrition due to its lack of resources and inept bureaucracy. However, I hope these children will get minimum nutrition to live on. According to the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the minimum calories needed per day for women is 1,000 calories and for men, 1,200 calories. A person can barely live on 800 calories a day. The staples of the Pakistani diet could include 1 cup of rice (242 calories), 1 cup of kidney beans(613 calories), 1 cup of beans(93 calories),and plain Naan (500 calories) or Peshawari Naan (750 calories) with 1 cup of whole milk (148 calories). Any combination of these ingredients will provide the required daily calories.

The question is whether Pakistan has the resources to produce the amount of food needed to support the current population of 217,457,428 or the projected population of 410,335,019 in 2050.The most recent data (2013-2014) show that Pakistan produced 25,980,000 tons of wheat and 6,798,000 tons of rice. The current population needs at least 17,716,956 tons of rice a year, a shortage of 10,918,956 tons a year and needs 99,650,924 tons of wheat a year, a surplus of 8,262,044 tons a year. Pakistan can barely feed its current population and will not be able to feed its future population. The current import of food caused the capital flight of $6.185 billion from the country during the last fiscal year of 2017/18, weighing down the fragile external account in the agriculture country. This is further proof that Pakistan is already importing a tremendous amount of food to feed its population. Given the current tremendous trade deficit, Pakistan cannot afford to import more without incurring tremendous debt, which will put Pakistan’s economy in a more precarious situation. To prevent disastrous economic consequences, Pakistan must implement population control.

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