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According to the World Bank’s “Pakistan @100- Sharing the Future 2047” report, Pakistan’s population is projected to reach 376 million by 2047, surpassing the projected US population of just under 350 million in the same year. This rapid population growth presents significant challenges, particularly in the realm of education. A recent study by the Pakistan Institute of Education (PIE) reported a dramatic increase in the number of out-of-school children, surging from 22.02 million to 26.21 million. The PIE’s forthcoming Pakistan Education Statistics Report 2021-22 is expected to provide a comprehensive analysis of this alarming trend.

Pakistan is also grappling with a severe crisis in education accessibility. The rise in out-of-school children highlights systemic issues within the country’s educational framework. The lack of access to formal education has significant implications since A large uneducated population is likely to face limited economic opportunities, leading to higher poverty rates and social instability.

With inadequate formal education, many children are funneled into madrasas, which often provide an education that is heavily religious with limited emphasis on modern subjects. Some of these institutions have been criticized for fostering extremist ideologies.

The increase in out-of-school children, coupled with the projected population boom, could exacerbate regional tensions, particularly between Pakistan and India. Over the past three decades, Pakistan has relied on madrasa-educated youth to participate in jihad against India. With more young people lacking formal education and job opportunities, there will be a larger pool of potential recruits for extremist groups.

As the number of radicalized individuals increases, so does the likelihood of cross-border terrorism. This could lead to more frequent and severe terrorist attacks in India, escalating regional tensions and potentially leading to military confrontations.

The Kashmir region, already a flashpoint between India and Pakistan, could see increased infiltration and insurgency activities. This would further destabilize the region and strain diplomatic relations between the two nuclear-armed neighbors.

As of May 2022, Jammu and Kashmir’s (J&K) total fertility rate (TFR) is 1.4, which is lower than the national average of 2.0. J&K’s TFR has been declining, from 3.6 in 1991 to 2.3 in 2007 and then to 2 before reaching 1.4. J&K’s TFR is also lower than the Indian Muslim average of 2.4, and much lower than that of Pakistan’s 3.5.

Local Population of the Jammu and Kashmir’s (J&K) cant sustain any insurgency activities due to dip in its TFR but same cant be said of Pakistan that has higher TRF rate of 3.5 that means more a large population of uneducated and unemployed youth that are more susceptible to radicalization. Extremist groups can exploit this vulnerability, using religious indoctrination to recruit and train militants.

Pakistan’s burgeoning population and educational crisis present a significant challenge with far-reaching implications for regional stability and global security. Addressing these issues requires comprehensive reforms in education, economic development, and counter-radicalization efforts. Failure to act could result in increased regional tensions, heightened terrorist activity, and prolonged instability in South Asia.