Mosques across Pakistan will soon distribute contraceptives and literature to spread awareness about the importance of family planning and safe sex.
Around 22,000 clerics, including 6,000 women scholars, will be appointed to spread the message of the benefits of a small family, said Chaudhry Shahbaz Hussain, federal population planning minister.
Programmes are being launched to make the university-level students also aware of these norms, he said.
The move to distribute contraceptives and literature in mosques is said to be borrowed from Bangladesh. Adopting the slogan "chhoto paribar, sukhi paribar" (small family, happy family), Bangladesh recorded impressive gains in population control that have been taken note of by many international aid agencies.
"Like in Bangladesh, clerics would inform people about the significance of family planning in their sermons," Hussain told the Daily Times.
He added that the ministry was planning to implement the programme at the time of Isha (last prayer of the day).
Pakistan's current birth rate is 1.86 percent, which the government is striving to bring down to 1.3 percent by 2020. "If the plans work effectively, this could be achieved by 2010," said Hussain.
He admitted to "a gulf between the ministry and the common man" that needed to be bridged.
Hussain said the main reason behind large families was the lack of social security and that the elderly were dependent on their children.
"We have to tell people that they can rely on two well-educated children."
The minister added that memorandums of understanding (MoUs) had been signed with public sector organisations to implement population welfare programmes.