Bannu: Three men have fathered almost a hundred children in Pakistan. These patriarchs are contributing their part in the skyrocketing population of Pakistan.
If reports are to be believed, the growing population of Pakistan faces a major economic challenge, but the three fathers are not worried at all. Allah, they say, will provide.
Pakistan is conducting a census after 19 years. 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.
Tribal enmity is another factor in the northwest, where the 57-year-old lives in the city of Bannu with his third wife, who is pregnant.
"We wanted to be stronger," the 57-year-old says, surrounded by 23 of his offspring, he observes, they don't need friends to play a full cricket match.
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.
The economy is expanding faster than it has in a decade, and last month Islamabad hiked its development budget by 40 percent.
But observers have warned the population boom is negating any progress, using up valuable resources in a young country where jobs are scarce and nearly 60 million people live below the poverty line.
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 says.
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.
For one thing, tribal enmity in the northwest has decreased in recent years, he said. "Now, with the grace of God, the situation has changed - war and fighting is finished - so, now, a decrease in the population would not be bad."
It would also free him up for other leisure activities, he says, adding wistfully: "If one had fewer children, one would have more time to make love with his wives."
(With Agency Inputs)