96 children from three fathers because birth control is a “heinous sin” – do you understand what’s happening, Pakistan?

Published: June 24, 2017
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Gulzar Khan, who fled with his family following a military operation against militants in the North Waziristan tribal agency, pictured with some of his children in Bannu. PHOTO: AFP

When I read about Gulzar Khan, Mastan Khan Wazir and Jan Mohammed, the three Pakistanis that fathered 96 children, I was reminded of a man in our neighbourhood who had 17 children (from one wife) in the 1960s.

Most men in those days had six children, though one sometimes did come across couples with 10 or 11. In fact, I know a few even today who have nine or 10 offspring. Now these are not average illiterate Pakistanis. Some of them are engineers and doctors; one is a chartered accountant, while the rest are executives in banks and offices. If you ask them why they need to multiply so much, their responses are the same as those of the three fathers of 96 kids. One of the engineers said,

“The more Muslims there are, the more their enemies will fear them… Muslims should go for more and more children.”

I told him that Jews today number only 10 million (there are a 100 Muslims for every Jew on the planet)yet they are the ones who rule over the rest of the world.

“That’s what my maulvi says; they will get the best in this life, but after death they will burn in hell throughout eternity.”

How was I supposed to respond to that?

I remember when I got married and was asked how many children I planned on having, to which I said,

“Two, or at the most, three.”

“You’re mad!” said an oil company executive. “It’s best to keep your wife pregnant as much as possible, otherwise she’ll keep asking awkward questions like why you left the office at five and reached home at 10.”

Another said,

“It’s a heinous sin to practice birth control. You will regret it after you get old and there won’t be anyone to look after you.”

Although our average virtually illiterate clerics oppose birth control strenuously, there are scholars who say that it is not prohibited. But as long as our people continue to believe what their local clerics say, there is no hope for the country. Our masses will go on believing that limiting the number of their children will get them consigned to hell. The population will double within a few years and the country will descend into chaos, with millions dying of starvation.

Then there was a clerk from Shadadpur who wanted leave from work to get married. Upon pointing out the fact that he was already married, he said,

“My wife has stopped getting pregnant after producing seven children, so my friends think I’m impotent. I’ll get more children from my second wife to stop them from saying that I’m no longer a man.”

Oh, but it only gets better, as the best is yet to come. A factory worker had the following to say on the topic:

“Here I am, away from home every day for 12 hours, and back home is my wife. I have to keep her pregnant most of the time, so she won’t even think of having an affair with the neighbour’s handsome son.”

Is this really the real reason why these men with primitive mindsets want so many children? Is it truly because they fear their wives will become promiscuous and immoral if they are not kept busy with taking care of their countless children?

One of my neighbours wanted a boy so badly that he went on trying until he had fathered seven girls. He then started looking for a second wife. That’s when I told him the gender of his children was not due to his wife being sexually stronger than him (as he thought), but she was giving birth to only girls because of the greater amount of the wrong kind of chromosomes in his sperm. In fact, I told him,

“Even if you take another wife, there is no guarantee that she will give you sons.”

He wasn’t convinced, married again, and fathered five more girls before giving up.

During the floods a few years back, those who were looking after the displaced families noticed that most of the women didn’t even know how many children they had.

“I think I have 15 or 16, or maybe 17,” most of them said.

These desperately poor people don’t have TV sets or any other forms of entertainment, and cannot afford to pay for other entertainment activities either, so indulging in reproduction is the only fun they have. However, my three maids who live in the city and have a TV set at home, they too have seven or more children. The poor women commute for two hours daily, work eight to 10 hours, then submit to their husbands’ demands and get pregnant every two years. They earn barely enough to feed themselves and their existing children, yet they cannot see that having more children will make them even poorer.

Sending their children to schools is out of the question, so the male children are either given away to madrassas or they indulge in criminal activities. The girls of course are married off to the highest bidder as soon as they are old enough to bear children (around the age of 11 or even earlier).

 

But the most intriguing thing is that the father with 36 children from three wives, Gulzar Khan, wishes he had more time for leisure and making love to his wives. Here is a man who forces each of his wives to have more than 12 children and then talks of making love to them; because his wives have not endured enough already.

The most serious issue which Pakistan faces today is that of overpopulation. Even though we have 200 million men and women in the country, and increasing exponentially, the authorities are reluctant to address the issue, perhaps because they are afraid of the religious lobby.

If our population continues to rise at the current rate, it won’t be long before we run out of water, and most of our food will have to be imported.

All I can say is that I’m glad none of my friends think it’s odd for a man to have only two or three kids.

Shakir Lakhani

Shakir Lakhani

Engineer, former visiting lecturer at NED Engineering College, industrialist, associated with petroleum/chemical industries for many years. Loves writing, and (in the opinion of most of those who know him), mentally unbalanced. He tweets @shakirlakhani (twitter.com/shakirlakhani)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • vinsin

    No hatred for non-Muslims and Hindus. In last articles you were demanding Indian Muslims to have more Kids? You yourself said Hindu will kill Muslims if Pakistan won championship.

    Created Pakistan in the name of religion now afraid of same religion? India population density is much higher and so do Bangladesh. Without that Muslim population and lack of Birth control, there wont be any Pakistan and there wont be any increase in population of Muslims from 6% in 1750 to 25% by 1941?

    You got more that 20% of resources for merely 8.5% of population and that is also not enough for you? You have resources for all the Indian Muslims and you are saying you will die of starvation in future. After Independence when Indians were dying of starvation because of partition you were celebrating and your ministers were saying, India got all the poverty and rich Muslims got all the richness what happened to that now?

    Pakistani should have 0-2 kids. It is odd to have more than 2 kids.Recommend

  • Sudhanshu Swami

    Overpopulation will result in several problems like water crisis, unemployment, under employment, food shortage, fighting over resources. It is easy for powerful people to mold minds of poor and desperate people, they will more likely to diverted to fighting.Wealth of wealthy with less kids will keep on increasing. Big family’s kids will have less education and almost no inherited properties. In sophisticated world it is hard to raise even 1-2 kids, giving them full attention (education, healthy food etc ).Recommend

  • http://thoughtsandotherthing.blogspot.fr/2015/09/hyderabad-as-i-know-and-feel.html Supriya Arcot

    The cause for concern is that the have-nots are bearing more kids .Multiple children bearing has become largely a feature of the low classes . People of any religion/ race / caste of upper / middle classes are stopping at 2 or 1 kid today . They have realised the vicissitudes of bringing up their progeny . Its not about religion , its about monetary / mental strata . Awareness and education is the magic word.Recommend

  • Anis Motiwala

    Please, go ahead have more children but at least have mercy on the woman who is giving birth after birth…you are a Muslim go have more wives so that they get some rest between kids.Recommend

  • goggi (Lahore)

    This man and all those who encourage such a criminal mindset, are a disgrace for the humanity in this overpopulated world. I wish his dozens of daughters do not have the same sad destiny as their mothers.Recommend

  • http://gravatar.com/skchadha SKChadha

    GDP Growth …. :DRecommend

  • Ali S

    The media should take up this cause and point out that there’s absolutely nothing in Islam that prevents standard birth control methods like condoms or pills (many scholars even say IUDs are acceptable), only abortion is forbidden. These clerics are playing off of people’s lack of religious or scientific knowledge.Recommend

  • Assad

    Well said. I think most of our problems are due to overpopulation. My father had 5 brothers and 3 sisters. The division of land among our family caused enormous fights and we barely talk to each other now.Recommend

  • Memona

    If you involve religion in everything you will most likely end up in grave. To me western Pakistan is the most backward region in the country thank Goodness I wasn’t born in that region otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this I would be the 5th wife of some old man and giving birth to pashtun children back to back til I was 50.Recommend

  • Shakir Lakhani

    Please let me know where I said Indian Muslims should have more kids. Yes, Muslims in Indian-occupied J&K are being killed daily because Pakistan won the trophy, although the reason given is that they are terrorists.Recommend

  • DevilHunterX

    Make Idiocracy a compulsory watch for all PakistanisRecommend

  • Shawal khan

    Memona g think about chinese population how much they are and see the history of pushtoon .just shame on u ur type of westranization concept.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Please remember, these are paid cyber warriors of BJP/Shiv Sena/ RSS/Vishwa Hindu Parishad. Some are paid if their comment is printed.
    You will see same names again and again. That’s laziness. They each
    have about 5 under which they write. And are required to change names, frequently. They also target areas where there are large hindu
    populations. Like Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe, East African regions.
    They invent facts and are given talking/writing points by their masters.
    They scan newspapers, e-papers all over the world. With one objective.
    To push the hindu Hindutva Mission Statement of Hindustan.
    Make no mistake, they will sink as low as they have to. As you can see.Recommend

  • Vader

    Yes of course, here comes the legendary conspiracy theories, wasn’t your diplomat laughed at recently in D.CRecommend

  • Memona

    So you are taking inspiration from Chinese population? Than please adopt 1 child policy like they did.
    Fighting for womens right is westranization concept??
    As for so called Pushtoon history “Women are for child-rearing, boys are for pleasure” is a common saying across many parts of Afghanistan.Recommend

  • Sudhanshu Swami

    “Muslims in Indian-occupied J&K are being killed daily because Pakistan won the trophy”… I was always impressed with your analytical and reasoning powers.Recommend

  • Shakir Lakhani

    In the Muslim world, there are more men than women. For 100 Muslim women, there are 107 Muslim men. So, if Muslims start practicing polygamy (having more than one wife), soon you will have many Muslim men who can’t find any women to marry. How would the Muslim world deal with such a problem?Recommend

  • Shakir Lakhani

    Please stick to the point. You still haven’t pointed out where I said Muslims should have more children.Recommend

  • Ahmar

    There is probably a link between poverty and number of children. Even in the west, poorer people tend to have more children on average compared to well off business owner, lawyers, doctors, engineers etc.Recommend

  • Vader

    Comment was in lieu of your baloney theories on J&KRecommend

  • Patwari

    Dead wrong. Don’t know where you got this statistic.
    The trend is 55 women for every 50 men. That holds true
    for just about every country EXCEPT Hindustan. Where
    due to female infanticide the ratio is 700 women to each
    1000 men.
    Men die early, due to stress, heart disease, etc. related to cultural
    facts along with working to provide/support a family. They are
    prone to heart disease, main killer, because of their emotional macho make up.
    Not so with women. Therefore they live longer.Recommend

  • Custard_Pie_In_Your_Face

    An enlightening yet at the same time a depressing article,Recommend

  • Shakir Lakhani

    Please visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_sex_ratio
    There are 106 men for 100 women in Pakistan. For Arab countries the ratio is higher.Recommend

  • Kulbhushan Yadav

    Pakistanis should produce as many children as they can because it would need lots of people to pay Chinese debt.Recommend

  • Kulbhushan Yadav

    LOL. Apparently you are handling the payroll and HR of paid BJP trolls to know all the stuff. I must say BJP is pretty good that it made a “pious Muslim” as it’s cashier clerk. You must be hating your ilk enormously in order to accept that offer.Recommend

  • Ghazi Gul

    It is obvious from the photo that his children are well fed, well dressed, clean and lovingly cared for. What is wrong with that?Recommend

  • Ghazi Gul

    What has religion to do with it. Whether you involve religion in anything or not you will to end up in the grave. That the final place for prince and pauper.

    As for that other thing. Most women prefer to be married, have family and children. In the west its more to being mistress, girlfriend and disease and a lonely old age.Recommend

  • Ghazi Gul

    That is a shameful statement, western propaganda. Go see what they do. You will have your eyes opened.Recommend

  • Memona

    Are you an idiot? Most women in Pakistan and many other Muslim countries want to go to school, make friends, enjoy life, be someone and make their country proud NOT to get married and have babies even before their first menstrual cycle.
    In western Pakistan religion plays a big rule in women’s life, the women are cured by their men in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan while Punjab and sindh are doing a bit better due to having similar culture with India and Indian influence. Western Pakistan has Iranian and Afghani culture and their influence. You can see the differences.Recommend

  • Raja Mehboob

    Wow, so if u are not that backward, and you have the power to right, then use a little of your brain, and serve yourself for the improvisation of weaker part of Pakistan. @disqus_NVqYKWVTi9:disqus , you read books, and adapted what you liked, but the aspect of humanity is nowhere to be seen in your words. Amazed!!!!!!, it’s just like disagreeing without a reason, you should rather indulge into solution-oriented critique.Recommend

  • Raja Mehboob

    Thank God, you showed up with at least some logic!!!Recommend

  • Raja Mehboob

    hahahahaha wikipedia is not a credible resource broRecommend

  • Shakir Lakhani

    There are other sites with the same information. Please stop warming your seat and search “male-female ratio” and you will stop laughing.Recommend

  • Ultimate Reality

    WOW @disqus_NVqYKWVTi9:disqus What an obsession from pashtoons. BTW May I know the reasons for heights of obsession?Recommend

  • Ultimate Reality

    Pashtoon hurts a lot. I apologize for the wrongdoing of any pashtoon in one way or another.Recommend

  • Ghazi Gul

    You think people who marry are idiots? How long do you think you can live free style and avoid having babies? Will happen sooner or later no matter how careful you are.Recommend

  • Nisha Mehta

    Diaphragm is a contraception and one of the best birth control methods that is made of soft silicone. Diaphragm is the better option than oral contraceptive pills.Recommend

  • vinsin
  • vinsin

    What wrong with that? What about TNT?Recommend