Elephant in the room?

Why is nothing being done about about population planning in Pakistan? 

Everyone is ignoring the monster of over-population. Our people are producing like rabbits. So, it’s a rabbit in the garb of an elephant in the room!

Nathalene and I are seated here during a session of SDPI at Margalla hotel on 5th December,2019. 

On December 6th I was invited by Nathalene Reynolds of SDPI, to be a discussant at their panel. It was truly an honor to rub shoulders with a panel chaired by Muneeza Hashmi the daughter of Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Alys Faiz. She has served for many years as the head of Hum TV, Lahore. The topic was Redefining the Roles of Civil Societies in South Asia. All the speakers shed light on various interesting and alarming aspects of these organizations.

The presentations of speakers were extremely interesting and fascinating, dealing with topics like child right protection, hardships of  ‘haris’ in Sindh, and issues faced by Civil Societies in general, the world over.

As I sat listening, I realized, that the reality is that the civil societies emerge due to negligence or inability of government organizations to fulfill the urgent needs of the society. These are organizations made by the people on a no-profit basis, to fill that gap. 

Most of these societies wouldn’t be needed if the government allocated the required amount of funds for health and education in our country. Therefore, the insufficient funds for Health and Education, have resulted in most civil societies, today.

So, the need of the hour is for the government to allocate at least three times more funds for health and education, as compared to what they are allocating now.

All that effort being put for health and education by the Civil Societies, could be put in fields of even more importance.

In Pakistan, at the time of partition, Civil societies helped with resettling of refugees. When that was completed, they started helping women and children, and in health care.

Now, these societies are working to establish orphanages, clinics, hospitals, schools for underprivileged children. Happily, I found out that many organizations are working through out the country. Edhi has worked at a large scale, followed by innumerable others. The list is long. However, this list need not be doing the work of the government. Especially now, when more tax payers are there paying taxes. 

Redefining role of civil societies:

We need to redefine the role of Civil Societies by placing more emphasis on the two factors which could get us out of a lot of trouble:

  1. Family planning.
  2. Research.

Family planning:

Today, the South Asian countries have one fourth of the world’s population. We are busy weeping and wailing about this problem and that one. All of them have the same root cause: over population!

 Let the civil societies handle the monstrous issue of over population and family planning because that is what the government isn’t doing at all. This is the most urgent need of the hour. 

The need for research:

The other element is that of research. There is no authentic source of research in our country. Nothing is reliable. Without research we cannot know the gravity of any situation. Therefore, this is essential. (Here is an opportunity for a new entrepreneur.) 

One follower of mine, shared this picture of me, 
on Instagram, 

As I spoke, I looked at the elder persons in the room and asked them, ‘isn’t it true that the country did aggressive campaigning for family planning, ‘Bachay do hi achay’ (two children are good enough.) Now, the most they can say is ‘waqfa zaroori hai.’(Space between children is important.) They dare not talk about family planning. Why can’t they say that prevention is vital. I do not propagate, nor believe in abortion, only contraception and prevention.  A strict regimen for prevention of more than three pregnancies in every woman in our society is a must. This must be given primary importance.

Here is an amazing statistic that I found online regarding having three-children-families only. Notice, Pakistan’s name is no where here. Let us work towards having our name in this list, with the fastest improvement.

Our society is amazing, they don’t think of Islam while being corrupt right left and center, stealing, murders, child abuse, honor killings, usurping women’s properties, and everything else going on.  But Islam comes in while even thinking of family planning! (I wonder if it would have come into this issue, had the men had to produce those brats, feed and clothe them while being dependent on a stingy husband to deal with too!) This issue has got to be addressed, otherwise Pakistan in particular, and south Asian countries in totality will never get out the dilemma of poverty.

Epilog:

In Peshawar in 1994, I met a doctor while doing research for an article. He told me that he had just completed his degree in Preventive Medicine from England. I was intrigued about this subject. He explained it like this: 

‘Supposing a bridge is broken. Instead of repairing the bridge or building a new one, you say, ‘don’t worry, when someone falls, I’ll pick him out of the river.’ (That is what our Civil Societies are doing right now!) They are saving humanity by getting them out of the water. Then educating them, and feeding and clothing them!’

We have to think that the bridge needs to be built up. Secured. Control the number of population to the extent that is needed. Otherwise, you will constantly be needed to get people out of the river!

So what can be done?

  1. Change your mindset first. Brain storm how you can make a difference in our society. The need is to change the mindsets of people, specially educated and uneducated ones. Each one of my readers is now at a place in society where you can make a difference in one way or another. 
  2. Do campaigning for planned-parenthood at every level. All of you are in contact with people of lower socio-economic groups, influence them to not have more than two or three children.
  3. Give bonus for education of two children only. (That will send a silent message to others.)
  4. Organizations should facilitate parents with fewer children: 
    •  Give warnings to personnel having third child.
    • Facilities of health and education in factories for two children of workers.
    • Schools offering free education of two children to teachers and employees.
  5. Organizations offer good accommodation facilities to employees with two children only.
  6. One or two maternity leaves only.
  7. Health workers and contraception facilities to be offered free of cost to every home in country, whether it is in rural or urban areas.
‘Whenever I walk in a room,everyone ignores me.’

At personal level each of us must convince and facilitate staff at home and in organizations, about family planning. Be totally, unsympathetic to persons talking about having had so many children.

I know of the village of Tamman where people have few children. They are conscious of this fact, and it is done for many generations to reduce division of agricultural lands.

Stay blessed, my wonderful reader, we’ve got to stop producing like rabbits and think at a national and international level now. 🙂 

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