Former finance minister Miftah Ismail Sunday said Pakistan must control its population growth rate to ensure sustainable economic growth.
Speaking during the ‘Reimagining Pakistan’ seminar, the former minister highlighted that India, Bangladesh, and many Islamic countries have a much lower fertility rate than Pakistan.
Ismail said that 5.5 million kids are born in Pakistan every year, translating into one of the highest rates of population growth in the world. He said that if Pakistan’s fertility rate was similar to that of Bangladesh in the last ten years, Pakistan’s gross domestic product (GDP) per capita would have been 10 percent higher today.
The former minister said that coupled with the high population growth rate, Pakistan is ranked among the worst countries in terms of the Human Development Index (HDI), even below sub-Saharan African countries. He said that Pakistan must control its population as it simply doesn’t have enough resources to sustain such a rapidly growing population.
Focus on education
Ismail also stressed the need to focus on education as 50 percent of Pakistan’s children are out of school. He also highlighted that only 44 percent of students get enrolled in matriculation in Pakistan while the ratio is 85 percent in India.
He also pointed out that in India there are 26 campuses of Indian Institutes of Technology which is considered to be one of the best undergraduate programs in the world and graduates of these institutes go on to become chief executives of top companies around the world.
The former minister lamented that while India is establishing some of the best universities in the world, the average kid in Pakistan has a three-month diploma.
He said that Pakistan simply cannot progress when the education sector is not a priority. In addition, he also stressed gender inclusivity to ensure economic progress. He gave credit of Bangladesh’s higher exports to its policy of population growth and focus on girls’ education. He said that Pakistan simply cannot progress if it ignores women (50 percent of the population).