ISLAMABAD: Describing the rule of law as the foundation of a civilized society to move forward and achieve development, Prime Minister Imran Khan Wednesday said democracy and rule of law move in tandem. Speaking at a national symposium titled ‘Alarming Growth in Population in Pakistan’, the prime minister hailed the Supreme Court decision in Panama Papers case as ‘a landmark judgment’ which, he said, laid the foundation for ‘Naya Pakistan’. He regretted that rule of law in Pakistan could not be ensured in the past as dictators had been trying to become democrats while democratic leaders became dictators. He said the current period was the start of a best era in which the judiciary was taking up the matters of water scarcity, population control and others which the democratic government should had done.He said it was unfortunate that the democratic governments with their short-term thinking only thought about five years so that they could win the election after their tenures. The establishment of furnace-oil based power generation plants in the country was an example of such short-term thinking, he added. The prime minister recalled that the construction of Mangla and Tarbela dams during the government of Ayub Khan were good examples of long-term planning, adding that with good education system, effective bureaucracy, the country was moving ahead back in the 60s.The prime minister recalled that ‘Kam Bachay Khushhal Ghanara’ was a good campaign on population control. Alluding to the issue of unprecedented population growth, he maintained that it was inextricably linked to the environmental hazards, food security and loss of greenery. The recent Paris conference on environment had set the alarming bells ringing for the third world countries, especially Pakistan which had been severely affected with the global warming and currently ranked as the seventh most affected country in the world, he added, and stressed that such issues should be taught at the school levels. The prime minister said his government was concentrating on some of the urgent issues confronted by the country, including the economy. All the provincial governments were on board over the population issue as the task forces had been set up. He said the issue required determination as it was half heartedly tackled by the previous regimes. “The issue can be effectively addressed if all the stakeholders own it,” he emphasized and cited examples of Bangladesh and Iran where ulema played their role from the platform of mosques.The prime minister acknowledged that the legislation was required to do away with the colonial era legal frameworks like CPC and CrPC. His government within the first hundred days had done work in that regard and would soon introduce at least six legal amendments in the parliament over CPC and CrPC, he added. He stressed for revamping of the outdated and obsolete legal provisions and laws. The prime minister on behalf of the whole nation appreciated the chief justice of Pakistan for taking up such human rights issues. He said the Panama Papers case verdict had set the new direction of rule of law in the country as it made a sitting prime minister accountable for the first in the country’s history.He said for the first time, the Capital Development Authority was proceeding with the issue of regularization of a prime minister’s residence. “Imagining such thing in the past was impossible,” he added. The prime minister struck a note of optimism that the country would soon move past the current financial and economic issues as it was immensely gifted with vast potentials. The foreign investors were eager to invest in Pakistan despite knowing the current difficult phase through which the country had been passing, he added.Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar in his speech maintained that the unchecked population growth entailed disastrous consequences which would further shrunk the country’s resources drastically in the coming decades.He requested the prime minister to look into the facts as to why more dams had not been constructed in the last 60 years. He also regretted that there was no water management system in the country and referred to draining of the aquifers by the bottled companies as per year, about 7 billion gallons of underground water was being extracted.He said spread of knowledge and education, besides change in the way of thinking, were imperative for addressing such issues. He said the population growth was the most serious issue as after 30 years the country’s population was projected at 450 million.The chief justice said time had come to bring reforms in the law and increase the number of judges in the country. He said the law dating back to the 19th century was being practiced in the country. “To run the country, parliament is the supreme institution,” he said, lamenting that eons had passed but legislation was not made. “Now the time has come to bring reforms in the law. We will have to increase the number of judges and update the judicial structure,” he added, and stressed the need for assistance from the prime minister and parliament in this regard.“The judiciary can’t bear this burden now that a case is heard for years and years,” he said, adding that it was high time to quit the practice of boycotting the parliamentary proceedings. He also called for providing the judiciary tools necessary to fulfill the modern-day requisites.BISP Chairperson Dr Sania Nishtar, former minister Javed Jabbar, John Bangaarts of Population Growth, and renowned religious scholar Maulana Tariq Jameel also spoke on the occasion.Famous singer and pride of performance award winner Shahzad Roy presented a theme song on the population issue which was applauded by the audience.At the end, the chief justice also presented a memento to the prime minister.The conference was organized by the Law and Justice Commission in collaboration with the Ministry of Health Services. Judges of the superior judiciary, chief ministers, AJK prime minister, federal ministers, officials, academia, foreign diplomats, delegates, legal fraternity and media persons were present on the occasion.Published in Daily Times, December 6th 2018.