Alongside poverty and climate change, the developing countries including Pakistan were faced with the monster challenge of overpopulation that was exerting an extraordinary pressure on its socioeconomic resources. According to the UN population report 2022, the world population had crossed the psychological barrier of eight billion population mark in November last year and is expected to reach 8.5 billion in 2030, 9.7 billion in 2050 and 10.4 billion in 2100 courtesy to modern innovations and research in medical and pharmaceuticals sciences that significantly reduced mortality rate. The experts believed that if the population bomb was not wisely defused, then millions of people especially children and women mostly in SAARC, CARs and underdeveloped states would be exposed to hunger, starvation and malnutrition every year in the wake of global economic recessions and international conflicts including USSR-Ukraine, Kashmir and Palestine that has already put peace of these regions at jeopardy. The first national population census 1951 had revealed that Pakistan’s total population was only 75 million and 93 million in 1961(Incl East Pakistan), 65.3 million in 1972 (Excl East Pakistan), 80.68 million in 1981, 134.8 million in 1998 and it further jumped to a record 207.9 million in 2017, thus showing a massive increase of 132.9 million during 65 years with a substantial 1.91 percent annual growth rate recorded in 2021. Being the fifth most populous country and the second largest population in Muslim world after Indonesia, Pakistan’s increasing population has already started exerting tremendous pressure on hospitals, educational institutions, agricultural production, forestry, roads, employment and socioeconomic resources. Experts opined that food security challenges would be increased in the next few years after the recent devastative flood that caused whopping $40 billion economic and agriculture losses to Pakistan for which an inclusive recovery plan was necessary. The prices of 80KG and 20KG per flour bag in the open market have swelled to Rs12,000 and Rs2600 respectively while around 300 to 500 hundred patients were regularly being examined in major hospitals of KP having over 30 million population with over 2pc growth rate. “Overpopulation was the mother of all socioeconomic ills as it leads to poverty, hunger, socioeconomic imbalances, encourages corruption, destroys merit, delay justice and even brings down nations under heavy foreign loans’ burdens,” said Prof Dr. Zilakat Malik, former Chairman, Department of Economics, University of Peshawar while talking to APP. Citing a World Bank’s report, he said about six to nine million Pakistanis were likely to be dragged into poverty as a result of last year’s flooding that killed over 1,700 people including women and children, destroyed over two million houses and displaced eight million people besides inflicting around USD 40 billion economic losses to the government kitty. He said the poverty rate was expected to rise between 2.5 and four percentage points as a direct consequence of floods, which caused loss of jobs, livestock, agriculture harvests, houses and an increase in food cost in Pakistan. He said about 20pc Pakistanis i.e 55 million were reportedly living below the poverty line mostly in underdeveloped districts including merged areas of Pakistan and in the prevailing shabby economic situation and high food requirements in post-flood era, there was a need to make a cut on unnecessary expenditures, development budget, imports bill on luxury goods and ensuring strict implementation of an energy conservation plan. Dr. Malik said Pakistan produces about 20 percent edible production of its total requirement and was spending approximately US$ 4 billion annually on its import which was very high for an agricultural country. “I have lost my mother in her sixth pregnancy due to my family’s wish for a son,” Nargus Bibi, a resident of Pabbi, Nowshera told the scribe after tears rolled down over her face. “The desire for a baby boy had deprived my entire family and four sisters from a loving mother, who had worked day and night for our happiness and made us orphans forever,” she said. Dr. Riaz Khan, Head of the Children Department, Government Hospital Pabbi Nowshera said the chances of mortality of mothers and newborns increase due to lack of spacing among children, inadequate medical checkups and poor nutrition. He said stunting and malnutrition in children mainly occur in the first three to six months of birth due to an unbalanced diet of lactating mothers. “The nutritional status of newborns and infants was directly linked with the health and diet of the mother before, during and after pregnancy. I can tell you that about 30 to 40 percent of children were impacted by stunting that could be avoided by adopting contraceptives and reproductive healthcare services in the country including KP.” Director, the Population Welfare Department, Imran Shah said the KP’s first population welfare policy 2015 had been approved under which the contraceptive prevalence rate would be raised from 28pc in 2013 to 55pc in 2032 while efforts would be made to decrease the fertility rate from 3.9pc to 3.3pc birth per woman and attain replacement level fertility 2.1 births per woman during the said period through the cooperation of relevant stakeholders.