Pakistan’s Population Challenge Advocacy Meeting with Honourable Parliamentarians In collaboration with Population Center Pakistan (June 8, 2022)

The meeting was organized by the Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary Services (PIPS) in collaboration with Population Center Pakistan and Population Council. The meeting was held to facilitate legislators on the multifarious challenges of a rapidly growing population which call for stronger political commitment.

The meeting featured dialogues with subject experts, program managers and health practitioners to focus attention on parliamentarians’ role for advocating high impact practices that can be a game changer to promote family planning in Pakistan. Members of the Senate, legislators from the National and Provincial Assemblies, and Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly representing all major political parties attended the meeting. 

In her opening session, Dr. Zeba Sathar, Country Director Population Council emphasized the role of increased and better resource allocation for family planning servics to improve maternal and child health indicators due to decline in unintended pregnancies.  

In his session titled Role of Parliamentary Committees on Oversight, Mr. Mohammad Anwar, Executive Director, PIPS pointed out Parliamentarians’ role as pivotal for oversight and accountability to address the population challenge. He reiterated legislators’ role to drive political discourse on the population issue in the assembly floors by regularly dedicating time to discuss its impact on the country’s development. Mr. Anwar discussed how Parliamentary Committees plays a pivotal role in overnighting and furthermore he also discussed several tools such as Calling Attention, Motion for discussion, Resolution.

Speaking at the occasion, Honourable Senator Mushahid Hussain said political parties must leverage on the existing cross-party consensus on attaining sustainable population growth in Pakistan and advocate for inclusion of critical areas of health and family planning to take center stage in all national development and human security. Present at the occasion, Honourable Senator, Waleed Iqbal stressed on advocating for reducing the alarming population growth by highlighting its cross-sectoral impact on other areas of life particularly water emergency and food insecurity. He emphasized Parliamentarians to promote the new national narrative of Tawazun that promotes maintaining balance between family size and resources.  

Honourable Mr. Mahmood Jan, Deputy Speaker, Provincial Assembly of  Khyber Pakhtunkhwa stressed on legislators’ role in advocating for sustained population growth through grassroots engagement at the constituency-level, targeted media campaigns and through discourse in the assembly houses and support to enhance budgetary allocation for population planning activities.

The meeting featured plenary sessions to discuss how Pakistan can bend the population curve by implementing global practices of increasing finances, utilizing voucher programs and engagement of private sector to enhance outreach and access to family planning services amongst all economic cadres of population. Panelists included Dr. Hanid Mukhtar, Former Senior Economist, World Bank;  Syed Moazzam Ali Shah from Benazir Income Support Programme;  Dr. Yasmeen Qazi, technical advisor, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; representatives from the International Rescue Committee; Punjab Social Protection Authority and the Pakistan Academy of Family Physicians.

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