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Family planning still taboo in Pak

Unplanned pregnancies are on the rise in Pakistan with the number of abortions coming up to 900,000 cases every year, even as the majority of Pakistani people say they feel embarrassed to ask questions on family planning.

world Updated: Jul 12, 2010 15:07 IST

Unplanned pregnancies are on the rise in Pakistan with the number of abortions coming up to 900,000 cases every year, even as the majority of Pakistani people say they feel embarrassed to ask questions on family planning.

The Pakistan government had started a special campaign of "Two children, happy family" almost two decades ago so that everyone in the country could have sufficient food, water, education, healthcare, social welfare and job opportunities.

It also launched a family planning project by appointing women healthcare "visitors" in every village to advise women on how to avoid unplanned pregnancy. The ministry of population has also been carrying out different campaigns through electronic and print media, teaching people on how to avoid unplanned childbirth.

Pakistan, whose population was less then 50 million in the 1960s, now has become the world's sixth largest populated country with 180 million people, according to data provided by the Family Planning Association of Pakistan.

However, religious scholars believe that a big population does not cause poverty but authorities' mismanagement does, when it fails to utilise all the resources.

"God has promised to provide food to every one who gets birth in this universe. Then how can we disobey God," Hafiz Idrees, a religious scholar in Islamabad, was quoted as saying by Xinhua.

"The government should focus on productive policies and search for new resources instead of advising people."

The population ministry is also publicising a quote of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, who said, "I dream of a Pakistan, of an Asia, of a world, where every pregnancy is planned, and every child conceived is nurtured, loved, educated and supported".

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani has called for support from religious scholars and leaders to tackle the rapidly rising population in the country.

"It is the biggest challenge before us. In future, it may be worse than water, gas, and food problems for us," Gillani said.

Experts have warned that if the current rising trend is not slowed down, Pakistan's population will double after 34 years.