By Senator Sehar Kamran (TI)
May 03, 2019
“If we want to rise as a nation we need to value human development indicators and formulate policies that ensure sustainable growth and development of the country. Investing in target oriented policies from a future perspective is a trump card to save the future generation from vices of poverty and terrorism.”
Population growth is at the heart of all global problems and is a matter of grave concern to control before the world run out of space and resources. As believed by Malthus, “population control is necessary for humanity in order to overtake the world’s carrying capacity.” The current world population of 7.6 billion is expected to reach 8.6 billion in 2030, 9.8 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100, according to a new United Nations report. This calls for addressing population challenge in a broader framework. The developed world has made some remarkable progress in controlling their population growth; however some countries in the developing part of the world are struggling to infuse the rational of family planning.
Unchecked population growth and lack of an effective policy framework are among the serious challenges faced by Pakistan. The phenomena of population growth inadvertently effects states’ plan to strike self-sufficiency in different human development indicators. Not surprisingly, Pakistan is ranked 150th in the Human Development Index (HDI) with close to 29.5 percent of the population living below the poverty line. As rightly identified, “one of the biggest worries of Pakistan’s young population is not terrorism but ‘insecurity of jobs, justice and economic inflation.” With thousands of new-borns added to the population each day, even this ranking on the development index would be hard to sustain. To pursue on the path of sustainable development, Pakistan as a state needs to revisit its approach towards population control. Population Planning has to be treated as a priority because of two main reasons i.e. correlation between population growth and resource management and secondly, for maximizing the outcome of development efforts.
The struggling economy as that of Pakistan with poor health and development indicators is lagging behind in addressing the needs of its population and provision of better facilities and opportunities. The main reason behind this poor functioning can be attributed to weak governance strategies and certain cultural and religious restraints. Pakistan at the moment is struggling with the placement of its surplus and unemployed manpower for whom basic human and fundamental rights are no more than luxuries. This mismanagement of manpower is making the situation more alarming as such segment of the society is more susceptible to criminal activities and exposure to extremist ideologies. To counter these worsening outcomes and to steer the population to a sustainable future is a foremost duty of the state as well as a shared responsibility that can only be addressed by keeping all relevant stakeholders on the board.
The Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (UN 1994) implied that policies and programmes should not focus only on population numbers and growth rates. It argued instead for an integrated approach linking population action to development, including human development, women’s empowerment, gender equality and the needs of young people. It was the sixth five year developmental plan of Pakistan that demonstrated the interaction of fertility management with other development programs. The plan illustrates that population welfare and planning is a national responsibility.
An overview of the five year developmental plans of Pakistan will give us an insight into the steps already taken and the causes of their failure. It is of no doubt that population planning has remained part and parcel of each developmental plan; however its weak implementation in the absence of proper plan of action has remained an issue at large. Keeping in view the basic hurdles in the implementation of population control measures, a target oriented approach is the need of the time to address the specific nature of hurdles both in a rational and culturally acceptable manner. Other than this collaborative approach of governance between the state, society, community building institutions and inclusion of new and modern techniques and tools of population control can aid countries struggling with the challenge of population growth.
A mix of ethics, cultural and religious values and practices is making the scenario complicated. Such societal complications disrupt the provision of sexual and reproductive education and services. Family planning has served as a traditional and cost-effective model but in case of Pakistan it has not been strengthened over the period of time. This policy implementation gap is further pushing Pakistan in the midst of crisis on other fronts as well. Government goals for family planning shall also be defined in terms of unmet needs for information and services. To create a broader understanding in the domain of family planning and population growth there is a need to develop population control narrative from a multiple lens. This narrative can then be infused in the society through social, political, legal and economic incentives and interventions.
Keeping in view the socio-cultural settings of Pakistan a community based approach would be more effective to bridge the gap of understanding between rural and urban areas. The second most important social measure is to educate the girls and ensure gender equality. As said, “If you educate a girl, you educate a whole nation.” The education will enable the girls to determine their rights and use their freedom in family planning. Thirdly, Public awareness programs, seminars at the educational platform with equal representation from the religious scholars would serve as a most effective tool in promoting a population control narrative. The ‘Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority’ (PEMRA) can play a central role in the diffusion of knowledge, awareness regarding the effective use of contraceptives and run programs that promote the population growth narrative. Monetary and health and educational incentives can complement the family planning and population control program.
There is now global recognition that the effectiveness of programmes promoting reproductive health and rights depends critically on broader health system issues which affect both the demand for and the supply of health services. Public-Private partnerships can also play a dominant role in collectively addressing the challenge of population explosion. It is a growing belief that partnership between public and private sectors can lead to increased efficiency, equality, accountability, quality, and accessibility in the health system. Monetary and health incentives can complement the family planning and population control program. National action plan on population control is required to be introduced in order to train our human resource and match skills to the available opportunities.
It is imperative for Pakistani legislatures to take a leadership role in complementing and reinforcing the above mentioned recommendations. For example the Government of Pakistan can take an initiative in introducing a legislation on the size of the family, just like what is happening in other highly populous Asian countries such as China and India. Legislations based on rights based population policies and restriction on child marriages can add to the practicality of the efforts made.
To address population challenge in Pakistan, the government of Pakistan must strive to put in order a regulatory framework of policies that address the determinants of the population control and family planning accordingly. The population control tools that can prove to be effective are termed as education for all, ensuring gender equality through proper legislation, increased awareness and modernization of technical and delivery services. Other than addressing the challenge of population control, Pakistan as a state has to keep in mind its international obligations as well i.e. the fulfillment of the criteria stipulated in the sustainable development goals (SDG). Measures taken to control population will help Pakistan climb up the ladder in the status of SDGs.
To pursue on the path of sustainable development, Pakistan as a state needs to revisit its approach towards population control.
Same version of the article appeared in The Nation
Same version of the article appeared in Seharkamran.com
Afghanistan is global hub of narcotics production and smuggling. It is the main source of opium, morphine and heroin, among other cannabis-type and amphetamine-type stimulants. Since the Soviet invasion in 1979, the country has attained a notoriety for being one of the largest producers of the illicit opium poppy. The level of its production and smuggling reached new heights in the 1990s. The production got reduced significantly for a short period of time during the Taliban rule, but again its cultivation started increasing after the 2001 invasion of the US/NATO troops on Afghanistan. According to the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime’s annual opium survey, in 2017, opium production in Afghanistan reached a record high. After years of US military strikes, global efforts by the UN along with US and its allies, as well as spending of more than $8.7 billion dollars to counter the country’s illicit narcotics economy, Afghanistan still remains the world’s largest opium producer.1 As a result in February 2019, the US ended its anti-narcotics campaign in the country, without achieving any substantial results or dismantling the production and trafficking network, which, despite the campaign has spread to more areas.
For the first time since the invasion of Afghanistan, the US has recognized that only a durable peace process can ensure peace and stability in the war-torn country. Previously, the US relied on a military solution, but the US President Trump’s desire to exit the 18 years long war has opened a new avenue of diplomacy, by conducting negotiations with the Taliban leadership. The security situation in Afghanistan has considerably worsened, in the last couple of years;, the uncertainty and instability in Afghanistan has had negative implications on the region. All the stakeholders to the conflict, Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, Russia, Iran, and even the US agree that the cycle of violence must be broken, and the Afghan conflict must be brought to an end.
The appointment of Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad as the special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, and the consequent rounds of peace negotiations between the US and the Taliban leadership haves given hope to the world. However, there are several hurdles impeding the success of this peace process, mainly political. It is imperative that a meaningful peace process may be undertaken to establish long-term peace and stability in Afghanistan.
Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies and National Institute of Maritime Affairs sign a Memorandum of Understanding at Bahria University, Islamabad on 13th June 2019. The memorandum was signed by Vice Admiral (R) Syed Khawar Ali Shah HI (M) on behalf of NIMA and Ambassador Shaukat Ali Mukadam member advisory board. The signing ceremony was graced by Senator Sehar Kamran (TI) President of CPGS. Both the think tanks, realizing the need of in depth research on the potential of oceans in the global geo-strategic and economic dynamics and to face the challenges arising from the power kinetics in the oceans, have decided to share their intellectual endeavors. The MoU is a timely step in the right direction for realization of responsibility on part of the both institutions to enhance strategic awareness as well as render policy recommendations to the concerned quarters on matters of national concern.
The 21st century offers immense political and economic incentives for the South Asian region that has always remained pivotal to the strategic interests of big powers. The current transformation in international politics is marked by the process of economic globalization and regionalism that has added to the significance of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
The Chinese strategy of economic integration through economic corridors and infrastructural development has paved way for the policy sector of primary stakeholders to view the rationale of economic corridors from multiple perspectives i.e. CPEC as a tool of realism, CPEC as a tool of regional integration and CPEC as a geo-strategic and economic game changer. Secondly, the states involved need to rationalize their plans of action to keep their national interest and sovereignty integral. This calls for evaluation of the CPEC in a broader perspective i.e. its domestic, regional and international implications. CPEC’s critical appraisal will enable the policy and strategic sectors to relate to their security and foreign policy objectives, accordingly.
An analysis of Pakistan’s political structure, its history of socio-economic and infrastructure development, China’s Foreign policy, national interests and the basis of Pakistan-China friendship will enable us to understand how the CPEC is interacting and is expected to interact with the state structure of Pakistan. Pakistan-China relationship is a success story with a great deal of potential to meet the imperatives of the changing global and regional geo-strategic and geo-economic scenarios.
The concept of economic corridors came into limelight with the extension of support by the Asian Development Program to the development of greater Mekong sub region (GMS). The major landmark achieved by GMS program can be traced back to the boosting of transport connectivity in the sub-region as epitomized in the other existing economic corridors. Under GMS investments were targeted in the sector of energy, telecommunication and transport.
Geopolitical and strategic dynamics of broader Middle East are undergoing seismic changes due to escalating tension between the United States and Iran, after unilateral American withdrawal from the nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 countries. The situation further aggravated with subsequent re-imposition of the US sanctions on Iran earlier lifted as a result of Iranian compliance of the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA), also known as the P5+1 Agreement. The recent escalation started when last month, the Trump administration cancelled the US waivers allowing eight countries – China, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Turkey to continue buying oil from Iran. Moreover, the US designated Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization, and threatened others to stop ‘doing business’ with Iran as this would be considered as ‘bankrolling terrorism.’ In a tit for tat response, Iran declared American military’s Central Command (Centcom) as a terrorist organization and the US government as sponsor of terror. The defiant reciprocal moves by Iran have vitiated the already precarious security environment of the region.
‘Pakistan and the Russian Federation are connected by a deep historical and cultural affinity, geographical proximity, and a convergence of strategic and economic interests’
Senator Sehar Kamran (TI)
Pakistan and the Russian Federation share a long historical and cultural affinity, as well as a tumultuous past. In 2018, we stand at the precipice of a new era of cooperation, especially as we mark 70 years of diplomatic relations between Pakistan and Russia. Over the past decade, the increased collaboration in various sectors and enhanced consensus on matters of strategic as well as regional importance has helped to pave the path for a durable, respectful and constructive bilateral relationship. Now, more than ever, it is vital that both sides remain cognizant of the incredible potential for growth and development between the two countries, and vigilant of the challenges that could hinder this, in order to prevent a repetition of past mistakes. This paper attempts to explore this fine line by presenting an overview of how these relations have developed over the years, as well as the milestones, pitfalls and opportunities that have brought Pakistan and Russian cooperation to their current apogee.
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