Flawed policies behind surge in population of motherland: CJP

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ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar on Wednesday called for immediate steps to address the issue of alarming growth in population whereas Prime Minister Imran Khan said the government will leave no stone unturned in implementing task force recommendations to curb population growth in the country.

While addressing to national symposium on ‘Alarming Population Growth in Pakistan’, here, the Chief Justice expressed that Pakistan population will be approximately doubled in the next 30 years, adding by that time country’s water and food resources would be severally depleted.

Earlier, during hearing a human right matter a three-member bench of the Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar had issued directives to form a Task Force to devise mechanism to curb population growth in the country.

The Task Force gave eight point recommendations specifying clear priorities, roles, responsibilities and timeline for action. All the recommendations were placed before the Council of Common Interest (CCI) which approved the same during its meeting on November 19.

Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan (LJCP) in collaboration with the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination (NHSR&C), organized the Symposium on December 05 to call for action in the matter.

Addressing to the Symposium, Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar expressed the Supreme Court has taken up various issues that are vital to general public such as construction of dams, health and education issues and the present government should take a lead in tackling these issues in order to create a welfare state.

He further stated that as per directions in Human Rights Case No. 17599/18 a task force was formed which prepared a set of eight key recommendations to accelerate government efforts to reduce the population growth rate, lower the total fertility rate, and increase the contraceptive prevalence rate and it is now the prerogative of the government to implement the recommendations of the task force.

The CJP was of the view that population growth rate in Pakistan has reached devastating proportion and in the near future, the position will worsen to such an extent that there would be no resources to cater to the needs of a very large population.

Expressing commitment the CJP said that the judiciary is ready to work alongside the executive and resolving the issues facing the nation, adding that for strengthening the Rule of Law in the country the number of judges should be increased as they are overburdened with cases moreover the century-old laws like the Code of Civil Procedure, Code of Criminal Procedure, Contract Act, Limitation Act etc. needs to be amended by the legislature as per present day requirements so that the general public may be able to get expeditious relief from the courts. He also emphasized on the use of alternative dispute resolution methods for quick disposal of cases and the imposition of costs for the discouragement of false and frivolous litigation.

Prime Minister Imran Khan said the Supreme Court has initiated the process of Rule of Law in the country through recent landmark judgments and also taken up various important issues related to public importance.

Khan was of the view that issues like construction of dams and alarming population growth were not considered previously by the governments as the main focus was on short-term targets within the lifespan of the governments.

He further said that the government on the directions of the Supreme Court formed a task force and whose recommendations have been approved by the Council of Common Interest and the Provincial Governments are on board to implement these recommendations. However, he underlined the religious scholars’ role in creating awareness regarding tackling the issue of alarming population growth.

He stated that the issues of population growth and environment are interlinked as global warming also affects the climate having direct impact on the well-being of population. He also stated that ten billion trees would be planted in the country in the next five years for betterment of the environment. Moreover, he also emphasized the need to include the subject of environment and population planning in school curriculum. The Prime Minister also informed that his government has planned to amend the major legislation in the country to update the judicial system and have also prepared new laws for relief of the general public.

Religious scholar Maulana Tariq Jameel expressed concern over the social taboos linked with population growth factors and emphasized on the promotion of education and creating awareness among the general public to understand the ethics and dignity of human creation in order to maintain a balance for better quality of life of the future generations. He also highlighted the characteristics of a welfare state in the light of Quran and Hadith.
Meanwhile, during the morning session of the symposium at Federal Judicial Academy (FJA) Islamabad speakers discussed role of the international community in supporting Pakistan’s population program, Global Progress and Prospects for Pakistan and Islamic perspective on Birth Spacing.

Chairing a session, Capt. (Retd) Zahid Saeed, Secretary Ministry of NHSR&C gave a brief overview of the Population increase in Pakistan which grew at the rate of 2.4 percent during the period 1998-2017 and is projected to reach 285 million by 2030.

Dr. Zeba A. Sathar, Country Director, Population Council, Pakistan gave key note address in which she stated that with the population of 208 Million, Pakistan is the 6th most populous country in the world with the growth rate of 2.4 percent which is highest in the region. She also stated that Pakistan has the lowest contraceptive rate of 34 percent as compared to other Asian countries mainly due to lack of information, limited access options and negative experience of side effects of contraceptives.

She also informed that out of estimated 9 Million pregnancies per year in Pakistan around 4 Million are unwanted. She said that if Pakistan had followed Population planning models of Bangladesh or Indonesia then the overall population of Pakistan could have been under control. She stated that with the fertility decline the per capita income would increase. She recommended that strong policy reforms are required for meeting the challenge of alarming population growth and education emergency is needed to ensure universal primary education for both boys and girls by 2030.

Judges of the Superior Courts, Acting Speaker National Assembly, Federal Ministers, Prime Minister of AJK, Chief Ministers of Sindh and Gilgit-Baltistan, Provincial Ministers, Members of Parliament, Ambassadors and High Commissioners, Members of Legal Fraternity, Academia, Ulema, Representatives of INGOs/ NGOs, International Development Partners, Media persons attended the evening session of the symposium in Supreme Court.

Sated in a press release that during the recent past, the LJCP under the Chairmanship of Chief Justice of Pakistan conducted a two-day international symposium under the theme of “Creating a water-secure Pakistan” as well as holding the 8th Judicial Conference in which researchers and scholars around the world deliberated upon the theme and gave useful recommendations.

The LJCP has forwarded more than 130 law reform reports to the federal government containing proposals for amendments in various laws. The LJCP is also continuously assisting the Supreme Court of Pakistan in matters of public importance like uniform education policy, illegal funding to NGOs, Katchi Abadi case, Probation and Parole, construction of Islamabad Model Jail and sufferings of prisoners, illegal transplant of human organs, fire at Margalla hills, identity to transgenders and Aids victims, Uniform Police Reform Laws, etc. – TLTP