Three Men, 96 Children: Pakistan’s Population Booms

Maaz Khan With Sajjad Tarakzai, Yahoo, June 9, 2017

Three men who have fathered nearly 100 children among them are doing their bit for Pakistan’s skyrocketing population, which is being counted for the first time in 19 years.

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Allah, they say, will provide.

Pakistan has the highest birth rate in South Asia at around three children per woman, according to the World Bank and government figures, and the census is expected to show that growth remains high.

“God has created the entire universe and all human beings, so why should I stop the natural process of a baby’s birth?” asks Gulzar Khan, a father of 36, citing one of the strongest influences in the region: the belief that Islam prevents family planning.

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Polygamy is legal but rare in Pakistan, and families like Khan’s are not the norm, though the beliefs he holds are widespread.

The last census, held in 1998, showed Pakistan had a population of up to 135 million. Estimates suggest the new census — carried out earlier this year, with the preliminary results due by the end of July — will put the figure closer to 200 million.

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Khan’s brother, Mastan Khan Wazir — one of his 15 siblings — also has three wives. So far, Wazir has only fathered 22 children but, like his brother, he says his grandchildren are too numerous to count.

The 70-year-old, with his bushy moustaches and bejewelled fingers, is a minor celebrity in North Waziristan tribal district, where his blinged out jeep — done in the style of Pakistan’s famous “jingle trucks”, with Pashto music pouring from the stereo — is a familiar sight.

“God has promised that he will provide food and resources but people have weak faith,” he tells AFP, wearing a traditional Waziristani turban.

In the southwestern city of Quetta in Balochistan province, Jan Mohammed — the father of 38 children — agrees, despite having previously called on the government to provide resources for his family.

Jan spoke with AFP in 2016 to voice his desire for a fourth wife as he continues his mission of having 100 children. No woman has yet agreed, he says, but he has not given up.

“The more Muslims grow, the more their enemies will fear them… Muslims should go for more and more children,” he said.

Denied their husbands’ permission to speak, none of the three men’s wives could give their views on family planning in Islam.

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