Pakistan is due for a census count after 19 odd years and the numbers are expected to skyrocket. Three Pakistani men who have fathered nearly a hundred children have done their bit for the count. Even as the country sees hard-earned economic gains and social services, its growing population seeks to hamper that progress. With the highest birth rate in South-Asia, Pakistan sees three children per woman, according to the World Bank and government figures. AFP interviewed the three men to find out why there was a population boom and who would provide for the children.
Gulzar Khan, who has fathered 36 children, said, “God has created the entire universe and all human beings, so why should I stop the natural process of a baby’s birth?” He believes Islam prevents family planning. In North-West Pakistan, tribal enmities have goaded couples into having more strength in the family. Gulzar states categorically, “We wanted to be stronger.”
The last census in Pakistan showed a population of 135 million. Results of the new census are expected to take that number up to 200 million. In a place where the development budget was hiked by 40 per cent, 60 million people live below the poverty line. Observers have said this will negate any boom in economy that takes place.
Gulzar Khan’s brother has also fathered 22 children, although, he says, his grandchildren are too many to count.
“God has promised that he will provide food and resources but people have weak faith,” he told AFP. His views are echoed by Jan Mohammed, father of 38 children who previously called on the government to provide resources for his family. “The more Muslims grow, the more their enemies will fear them… Muslims should go for more and more children,” he told AFP.
Mohammed has a vision of having 100 children but no woman has agreed to it. Neither of the wives of the three men were allowed to talk to AFP.
Zeba A Sathar, country director for the UN population council said a lot of this can be prevented if women were given the right to birth control or contraceptives.
With inputs from AFP