Three Pakistani men who have fathered about 100 kids among them are giving their bit for Pakistan’s soaring population, which is also being calculated for the very first time. But in a country where experts warn that the increasing population is gouging into hard-won economic gains and social services. The three fathers are purely unconcerned about it and say that ‘Allah will provide’. According to the World Bank and government figures, Pakistan has the highest birth rate in South Asia at around three children per woman, and the census is expected to show the development stays high.
A father of 36 children, Gulzar Khan asks that “God has created the entire universe and all human beings, so why should I stop the natural process of a baby’s birth”? Inherited ill will is another factor in the northwest, where the 57-years-old lives in the city of Bannu with his third spouse, who is pregnant as well. The 57-years-old tells AFP that “We wanted to be stronger”, surrounded by 23 of his kids, he observes that they don’t bother about companions to play a full cricket match. The polygamy is legal, but uncommon in Pakistan, and families like Khan’s are not the norm, even though the beliefs he holds are across the board. In 1998, the last census was held, which indicated Pakistan had a population of up to 135 million. It is conjectured that the estimates of new census, which carried out earlier this year that it will put the figure close to 200 million, the results probably come out by the end of July.
The economy is growing quicker than it has in 10 years, and a month ago, Islamabad hiked its development budget by 40 percent. But on the other hand, the specialists have cautioned the populace blast is opposing any growth, spending valuable resources in a nation full of youth where jobs are rare and near about 60 million people live below the poverty line. The country director for the UN population council Zeba A. Sathar says, “It definitely is a problem because it is affecting health outcomes adversely and also eating into development gains.” Sathar also anticipated that the census would show growth has slowed because of lower fertility rates. It would remain among the highest rates in the region, she added. “There has to be a clear enunciation of the need to slow growth as a positive policy lever. And then next a good, effective health system that provides information and services of quality,” Sathar added.
Khan’s brother, Mastan Khan Wazir, who’s one of his 15 siblings, also has three wives. Wazir is father of just 22 kids, but like his brother, he says his grandchildren are too many that it’s impossible to count. With his shaggy mustaches and bejeweled fingers, this 70-years-old is quite a famous celebrity in the North Waziristan tribal district. Wearing a traditional Wazirstani turban, he tells AFP, “God has promised that he will provide food and resources but people have weak faith.” In the Southwestern city of Quetta in Balochistan region, Jan Mohammed, fathered 38 children, agrees in spite of having approached the government to give resources to his kin. Jan said in 2016 to AFP that his desire for the fourth spouse still continues as his mission is about having 100 kids. He said that no woman has agreed yet, he has not surrendered. “The more Muslims grow, the more their enemies will fear them… Muslims should go for more and more children,” he said.
None of the three men’s wives could give their opinions on family planning in Islam as they were not permitted to speak by their husbands’. In any case, there is an “abundant” in Pakistan about the need for birth spacing, or allowing a woman’s body to rest for at least for a year and a half between pregnancies, Sathar said. “The need is for clear information about the methods available, how they work, their possible side effects and where to get them. That is missing,” she added. A feminist activist, Aisha Sarwari who has written on population and women’s rights in the past says that giving women more of a choice in the matter could help.
“Access to birth control for women can be a game changer. Ultimately the impact is that there are more resources to go around … Empowered women have fewer children, and this creates a mindset that leads to prosperity within families that is likely to be emulated across communities,” she told AFP. On the other hand, Khan shockingly admitted that there would be no loss in slowing down the population. He said wisely, “Now, with the grace of God, the situation has changed – war and fighting are finished – so, now, a decrease in the population would not be bad. If one had fewer children, one would have more time to make love with his wives.”