Exerting an extraordinary pressure on socioeconomic, food and civic resources, Pakistan’s population was rising with a fast pace, making it the seventh largest populous country in the world and second in Muslim states after Indonesia. Annually growing at about a two percent rate, the country’s population has recently touched the psychological barrier of about 233.045 million. The population bulge has not only overburdened educational institutions, healthcare units, motorways, and employment institutions but also caused the shrinking of forests, and depletion of water and agriculture resources in the wake of climate change challenges. The first national population census disclosed that Pakistan’s total population was only 75 million in 1951 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 record increase of 132.9 million during 65 years. “Overpopulation is the mother of all social issues that has not only posed enormous challenges to food and economic security but also causes socio-economic imbalances, poverty, malnutrition among children and lactating mothers, encourages corruption, undermining merit and development besides bringing nations down under heavy loans burdens,” said Dr. Muhammad Naeem, Associated Professor Economics Department, University of Swabi while talking to APP. He warned if the present trend of populace growth continued, the country may cross around 260.3 million population in 2030 and 330.8 million by 2050 mark and in such a scenario, people’s access to clean drinking water, quality healthcare, education, roads, Govt employment and food services would become merely a dream. Citing the world bank report, Dr Naeem said the poverty was expected to reach about 37.2 percent ($3.65 per day) this year in the country. Causing huge USD 40 billion losses to Pakistan, the last year’s flood also affected over 33 million people and around nine million may fall below the poverty line this year. He said about 20pc Pakistanis i.e. 55 million were reportedly living below the poverty line and suggested a cut on unnecessary expenditures, development budget and imports bill on luxury goods in the wake of a shabby economy. He said Pakistan was passing through difficult economic challenges and “we need to explore the KP’s God-given natural resources including hydel, gemstones, olive cultivation, marble and vast lands to generate employment opportunities for youth.” A KP Board of Investment and Trade (KP-BIT) spokesman told APP that around 14 trillion ton of marble, limestone, dolomite, soapstone, silica and other mineral resources’ potential existed in KP. Besides around 70 million carats of gemstones and 1.10 billion bbls of oil reserves potential, he said KP was also blessed with a potential of about 7.5 million tons production of maize, wheat, sugarcane and tobacco per year while its southern districts including Karak, Hangu, Kohat, Bannu, Lakki Marwat and Waziristan carried around 16 trillion cubic feet natural gas reserves. The northern KP has plenty of suitable sites for the construction of small and large dams with the potential to generate about 30,000MW of hydropower electricity that could turn around the country’s economy besides fulfilling the water and agriculture requirements of the ever-growing population. “As many as 8,813,025metric tons (MT) of marble had been produced in 2017-18, 7,990,473MT in 2018-19, 7,700,855MT 2019-20 and 478,100 MT in 2021-22 (March-July) in Pakistan where marble exports recorded as $31,030 in 2016, $28,166 in 2017, $26,403 in 2018, $25,377 in 2019, $17,204 in 2020 and $24,679 in 2021 besides about USD 3.7 billion annual gemstones exports,” according to Economic Survey of Pakistan. Tariq Waheed, senior geologist of the mines and mineral department told APP that geographical mapping of unexplored mines and mineral deposits in different districts of the province was started with the assistance of the Geological Survey of Pakistan. Besides exploration studies of lithium metal in Chitral, he said the mapping of a 5,000 square kilometer area in the province including Chitral and 600 sq km area in the Orakzai and Kurram districts was completed. Mineral and marble testing laboratories were being equipped with modern machinery with an estimated cost of Rs93 million, he said, adding a mineral complex would be established at Hayatabad where one window facilities and consultancy services would be provided to investors besides granting of a lease for exploration of emerald gemstones of Rs510 million for Swat. Waheed said last year, around Rs7 billion in revenue was collected from the mines and mineral sector and reiterated that it could be increased by Rs20 billion per annum if modern technology was used. Exploration of decorative stones in Mohmand, Bajaur and Khyber, metallic minerals including gold, silver, manganese, iron and chromite, development of rare metallic mines, coal, marbles, platinum, silver and gold reservoirs in Orakzai and strengthening of Project Management Unit (PMU) was completed. Marble cities on 350 acres in Mohmand and Buner were being constructed to facilitate over 1,000 marble and allied industrial units. Over 28 units have already started production in Marble City Risalpur while 20 and 70 percent portions of Rashakai and Nowshera SEZ respectively while a Salt and Gypsum City are to be established in Karak. Ahmad Syed, Senior Planning Officer, Agriculture Department told APP that it was high time to shift from conventional to mechanized agriculture farming and palm oil cultivation plants to meet the food requirements of the rising population.