In a conservative environment of Balochistan, adopting methods of population control has remained a taboo. Still, there is no reaction against those working for population control.
According to Pakistan Social and Living Standards Measurement Survey (PSLM) of 2013-14, the literacy rate in Balochistan is 43 per cent. According to estimates, 20-25 per cent population of the province is urbanised. In such a scenario, it’s natural that population control has not been effective in Balochistan.
The Population Welfare Department of Balochistan, devolved to the province in 2010, has its offices in 26 out of 32 districts of Balochistan and is responsible for providing free contraceptives and educate people about the importance of family planning.
The department doesn’t have complete data about population control. Therefore, the data of third party reports have to be used to determine the success of population control in the province.
According to the Contraceptive Performance Report 2014-2015 published by Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR) in Pakistan stands at 25.54 per cent. The same report reveals that CPR is just 6.93 per cent in Balochistan.
CPR is the percentage of women who are practising, or whose sexual partners are practising, any form of contraception. Likewise, according to the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2010, CPR stands at 14.7 per cent in Balochistan.
According to the Balochistan Population report 2014 published by Population Council, which conducts research to address critical health and development issues in more than 50 countries, CPR in Balochistan has increased from 14 per cent in 2007 to 20 per cent in 2013.
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The same report says that around 160,000 pregnancies are unwanted in Balochistan every year which can be avoided if population control methods are effectively employed.
All the three reports quoted above present a different figure for CPR in Balochistan. This problem is not only with population control but with health, education, governance and every sector where there is dearth of credible data.
This implies that correct situation regarding population control cannot be ascertained and making policies based on this data would also be problematic.
Officials of the population welfare department of Balochistan didn’t respond when contacted by TNS for comment.
An official of this department, requesting anonymity, says that the department has limited number of officials and a majority of them don’t consider population control the right thing from religion’s point of view.
The level of interest of the government towards population control can be measured from the fact that the Population Welfare Department is categorised under “Others” section in Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP).
Mehwish Quddus Alizai, who teaches Sociology in Balochistan University of Information Technology, Engineering and Management Sciences (BUITEMS) as Assistant Professor, says “Cultural and contextual impediments, such as lack of education and awareness, male dominance and religious misinterpretation, restrict women’s choices to negotiate their family size and birth spacing.”