The President of Pakistan on the Need to Slow Population Growth in the Muslim World


The size of Pakistan's population, in its present territory, has more than quadrupled since 1950. The United Nations estimates it at 158 million in 2005. The UN's medium projection for the country envisages a continuing steady decline of fertility in the next 45 years, reaching replacement level by mid-century. On that assumption, the country's 2050 population would be some 305 million. Policies seeking to moderate population growth so as to enhance the prospects for economic development, however, often encounter resistance as contrary to Islamic teaching. Addressing an international conference of Islamic scholars (ulema) on population and development on 6 May 2005 in Islamabad, General Pervez Musharraf, president of Pakistan, forcefully rejected that claim and stressed the need for population policies based on a realistic assessment of socioeconomic conditions in Pakistan and, more broadly, in the Muslim world (Ummah). Excerpts from this speech, with minor editing for English expression, are reproduced below. A full transcript of the speech is available at