Eight billion people.

ON Nov 15, the human family welcomed its eight billionth member. Though this has been termed a 'milestone in human development' by the UN, the multilateral body and other experts have also raised pertinent questions about how to provide a better quality of life to such a large population. Particularly, how will humanity be able to feed, clothe and educate so many people, and give them a pollution-free environment to live in? After all, hundreds of millions of people across the world live in extreme poverty, so being alive is not an achievement in itself; living a productive and healthy life is a true mark of human development. Though globally population growth may be slowing, the key issue is that those states with the highest fertility rates also tend to be the ones with the lowest per-capita income. According to the UN Population Fund, Pakistan is amongst the countries where more than half the global population growth up to 2050 will be concentrated. Already we are at 220m-plus, and if we continue on the same trajectory, the country is likely to burst at the seams by 2100, given the staggering projection of 400m people. This is a sobering thought, and the state needs to ensure population growth is within manageable limits.

Population planning initiatives have seen mixed results in Pakistan's 75-year history. However, to prevent a...

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