Population of Pakistan

Population of Pakistan by M Atif Sheikh

Form Yesterday to Today and Tomorrow

The difference of human development standards between developed and developing countries, makes life luxurious at some places but miserable at some. And that is just because of not acting upon the ages-old proverb “cut your coat according to your cloth,” meaning that population growth should be directly related to resources. And many developed countries have actually proven it as in these countries there has been an increase of 55% in their population during the last 65 years which surged from 813 million in 1950 to reach 1259 million in 2015. On the contrary, in developing countries, population has swelled by 254% to reach 6065 million in 2015 from 1713 million during these 65 years.

According to the “World Population Prospects: The 2012 Revision” issued by the Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the annual growth rate of population in developed countries was recorded at 0.69% during 1950-2013 whereas the same was 1.97% in the developing ones. Due to the present state of affairs is that the chunk of population that was 67.8% of world population in 1950 has reached to a record level of 83% in 2015. In sharp contrast to it, this share in developed regions had reduced from 32.3% in 1950 to 17% in 2015. Consequently, by 2050, 86.4% of the world population is expected to live in the less-developed regions whereas only 13.6% will be inhabiting more developed regions. So, the developing world mainly because of the burden of this population tsunami could never come out of the quagmire of wretchedness and backwardness and has not been able to achieve the standards of human development the fruit of which the developed world have been reaping due to the less population burden.

In order to reaffirm the efforts aimed at bridging the gulf in human development standards and reducing the ever-increasing population pressure on natural resources, July 11 is annually observed as the World Population Day. The observance aims to raise the level of awareness, especially in the developing and underdeveloped countries, on stemming the tide of population tsunami and to work more on implementing pragmatic policies in this regard. Recent estimates suggest that the world population, which has crossed 7.25 billion on June 30, 2015, would reach 9.55 billion in 2050 which simply means that it may increase by 31.6% during these years.
Pakistan is also among those developing countries that are not only the cause of population tsunami but are also the victims of it. The data, and the analysis thereupon, provided by the US Census Bureau through its International Database reveals that Pakistan, which was the 13th most populous country in the world in 1950, has now climbed up to sixth position and is expected to grab the fifth position in only four years, i.e. by 2019.

Population of Pakistan by M Atif Sheikh 1According to the International Database of the US Census Bureau and the United Nations, Pakistan was at 13th position in the whole world during 1950-55 in terms of net increase in the population but it has climbed up to the 4th position in 2014 with an increase of approximately 32,58,000 individuals. Similarly, in terms of annual growth rate, Pakistan, which with a net rate of 1.65% during the abovementioned period was at 145th position, has attained the 79th position in 2014-15 with 1.47% rate. And, when seen in the context of South Asia, the growth rate places Pakistan at fourth place; after Afghanistan, Bhutan and Bangladesh.

The severity of the population tsunami in Pakistan can be gauged from the fact that according to the first census in 1951, Pakistan’s total population (excluding that of East Pakistan of that time) was 33.74 million which crossed the threshold of 132.35 million as per the data collected through the fifth — and till date last — census that was held in 1998. This means that during these 47 years, the population of Pakistan swelled by a whopping 292%. And, if we take into consideration the figure 181.74 million, as the data given by the National Institute of Population Studies suggests, then country’s population increased by 439% during the period 1951-2015. During the period between the first and the second census (1951-61), country’s population swelled by nearly 27%; during second and third census (1961-72), the increase was recorded at 52%; during the third and fourth census (1972-81) it stood at 29% while during the fourth and fifth census (1981-1998) an increase of 57% was witnessed and from 1998 to the present day in 2015 the country’s population has increased by an estimated 37%.

During these 64 years (1951-2015) the biggest increase in population occurred in Islamabad where the population during this period increased by 1381%. The Balochistan province stood second in these terms with an estimated increase of 726%. It was followed by Sindh (588%), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa(455%) and Punjab (383%) respectively whereas the population of FATA during these years saw a cumulative increase of 233%.

When we analyze the population trends in terms of provinces, some important aspects come to light. For instance, the Punjab hosted country’s 60.9% population at the time of first census of 1951, which reduced gradually to come down to 59.4% in 1962, 57.6% in 1972, 56.1% in 1981 and the share further declined to 55.6% in 1998 and estimates suggest that it has further decreased to 54.6% in 2015. Similarly, Sindh’s population that was 17.9% of Pakistan’s total population in 1951 has gradually increased to be at 23% in 2015. Similarly, share of Balochistan and Islamabad has also increased significantly. Although the share of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa remains almost the same, yet that of FATA has fallen from 3.4% to the present 2.4%.

During the intervening period between the two censuses of 1951 and 1961, in terms of annual growth rate FATA topped the list with 4.08% per annum growth. During the corresponding period between the 1961 and 1972 censuses Islamabad replaced FATA on the list by recording 5.34% growth. During the period between the third and the fourth census, highest population growth rate was recorded in Balochistan where population grew at the rate of 7.09% per annum in the ten-year period. Islamabad again bounced back to top the list with 5.19% annual growth in population during the same period.

An analysis of growth in country’s population delineates also the geographical distribution of population along with the trends of rural-urban migration and upgrade of rural areas to urban level. In this context, Pakistan’s urban population increased by a whopping 619% during 1951-98 and this ratio had increased from 17.7% to reach 32.5% in 1998. And, if we look into the facts and figures provided by the National Institute of Population Studies, we see that urban population stands at 41% of country’s total population in 2015. Similarly, rural population that was 82.2% of country’s total population in 1951 had come down to 67.4% in 1998 and with further decrease it now stands at 59% in 2015.

In 2015, Islamabad had the biggest proportion of urban population as 75% of its population inhabits the urban part. The Capital city is followed by Sindh with 58% of the same. In terms of urban population, the province of Punjab stands at third place with 40% urban population. Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA occupy the fourth, fifth and sixth place with 36%, 24% and 4% respectively.

On the contrary, when it comes to the rural population in 2015, FATA tops the list with 96% population inhabiting the rural areas followed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, Punjab and Sindh with 76%, 64%, 60% and 42% of their respective population living in rural areas. The Capital city Islamabad has the least rural population, i.e. 24.2%.

During the period 1951-2015, the biggest increase in proportional rural population was recorded in Balochistan province where it surged by 505%. Balochistan was followed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with an increase of 377% during the corresponding period. Sindh and Islamabad stood at third and fourth places with an increase of 307% and 268% respectively whereas during the same period, Punjab saw an increase of 250% while that in FATA was recorded at 219%.

Interestingly, during the same period (1951-2015), the biggest increase in urban population was witnessed also in Balochistan whose urban population swelled by an accumulative 2300% during these 64 years. At second place remained Islamabad where there has been an increase of 1311% during the period 1972-2015. Sindh occupied the third place on this list with 1271% increase recorded during 1951-2015, followed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with 1089% and Punjab with 1019%. The increase in FATA during 1961-2015 was recorded at 683%. Hence, overall in Pakistan during 1951-2015 the aggregate of increase in rural and urban population was 285% and 1151%, respectively.

Pakistan, a country which occupies 0.60% of world’s total area, hosts 2.48% of world’s total population in 2015. It means that at present population density of Pakistan is 228 persons per square kilometre. In 1951, this ratio was 42 and in 1961 it surged to 54 persons per square kilometre. It further climbed up to 82 in 1981 and increased to 166 in 1998. This means that from 1951 to 1998 the population density per kilometre has increased by 295% and if we also take into consideration the present population of Pakistan, then in the last 64 years per kilometre population in Pakistan has increased by 443%. During 1951-2015 period, highest increase in population per kilometre was recorded in Islamabad where during these 64 years the per square kilometre population swelled by 1381%. It was followed by Balochistan with 833% and then by Sindh with 586%, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 457%, Punjab 384% and then FATA where the increase was 263%.

Population of Pakistan by M Atif Sheikh 2While ascertaining population growth in any country, factors like family planning measures, women’s fertility crude rate, rate of births and deaths and median age are considered important. If we see Pakistan in this context, the facts which come to the fore are that according to Pakistan Social and Living Standards Measurement Survey 2013-14, nearly 32% of married women in Pakistan use at least one family planning method. Another important aspect of population growth in Pakistan is the fall in crude death rate and an increase in median age. The data suggests that due to the fall in death rate — thanks to an unprecedented advancement and development in the field of medicine during the 20th century — the death rate, in terms of which Pakistan with 26.3 per 1000 population was at the 40th place during 1950-55, has decreased to only 6.6 per 1000 population meaning thereby that during the past 60 years, the death rate has fallen by 19.7 per thousand population and with this Pakistan is at 140th position in the world. Similarly, median age that averaged 38.4 years during 1950-55 has now increased to reach 67.1 years and it means that during the past half century, average age of Pakistanis has increased by 28.7 years.

All these factors are indicating a gradual increase in the country’s population. And, this increasing population is taking a heavy toll on country’s economic, social and natural resources. Since food, healthcare, employment, education and security are among basic human rights so making the provision of these is the responsibility of the country’s government. But, providing people with all their basic rights increasingly demands additional economic resources with every passing year. And how an economy that is already grappling with energy crisis, precarious law and order situation and increased prices of raw materials can provide additional economic resources consummate to people’s basic needs? This leads to the unleashing of the unemployment genie and deprivation of a major chunk of country’s population from basic civic amenities. And, every coming day further aggravates the already precarious situation. Thus, the dream of human development remains unfulfilled and the gulf between developed and developing countries keeps on widening.

Pakistan has also not been immune to the wretchedness of this factor. During 2013-14 the unemployment ratio in age group 10 years or more was 5.27%, according to the Labour Force Survey. This ratio was 4.26% in rural areas while in their urban counterparts it stood at 7.79%. And, UNDP data suggests that in terms of human development, Pakistan, at present, is at 146th position out of 187 countries. Moreover, according to the Multidimensional Poverty Index 2015 that was prepared on the basis of 10 indicators in the fields of life standards in terms of health, education by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative for the UNDP’s Human Development Report, Pakistan’s 44.2% population is suffering from multidimensional poverty meaning thereby that they are the victims of non-provision of basic human rights of education, health and standard of living. On this modern measure of poverty, 70.6% population of Balochistan, 50.1% of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 53.2% of Sindh, 36.6% of Punjab, 46.9% of Northern Areas (Gilgit-Baltistan) and 9.2% of Islamabad is suffering from multidimensional poverty whereas further 12.7% population of Balochistan, 19.1% of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 17.2% of Punjab, 8.3% of Sindh, 22.8% of Northern Areas (Gilgit-Baltistan) and 7.1% of Islamabad is also vulnerable to multidimensional poverty. At national level this percentage is 15.1%.

The results of efforts aimed at putting the genie of Pakistan’s increasing population into the bottle are also coming to the fore. One instance of it is a significant decrease in crude birth rate. This ratio was 42.8 births per thousand in 1950-55 but in 2014 it was 23.2 cases per thousand which means that during the past sixty years, the ratio has reduced by 19.6 cases per thousand. Similarly, the total fertility rate has also decreased from 6.6 children per woman to only 2.86 children.

Being the sixth most populous countries in the world is one of the major factors that are responsible for Pakistan’s backwardness. The dream of human development, poverty eradication and economic development cannot be fulfilled unless we control our population to bring it in proportion with the available resources. For this, everyone of us shall have to take an initiative at individual level.

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