ISLAMABAD: Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani has warned against delay in conducting census in the country, saying that any such move will be a violation of the Constitution.

“Further delay in conducting a fair and transparent population census on any pretext will be the violation of Constitution. The state needs to fulfil its commitment as per the need of the hour,” Mr Rabbani said while addressing an 82-member delegation of youth parliamentarians and office-bearers of Pakistan Institute of Legislation Development and Transparency (Pildat).

The sixth national population census is scheduled to be held in the country in March this year as per a decision of the Council of Common Interests (CCI).

There are speculations in political and social circles that the federal government is either reluctant or not ready to hold the census, which has been due since 2008. The last census was conducted in 1998, after a delay of seven years.

Under the Constitution, the government is bound to conduct the population census after every 10 years.

The Senate chairman proposed that apprehensions of Baloch people that they would be demographically converted into a minority as a result of the population census should be looked into through a possible legislation to limit the right of vote of immigrants to the place of origin, instead of Gwadar.

In reply to a question, Mr Rabbani said that Pakistan had been as hospitable as possible, “but now we need to watch our own national interest”.

He said that Afghan refugees had already affected the Pakistani society, culture and economy as they were spread in the length and breadth of the country and “thanks to corruption in our society a large number of Afghan refugees have acquired Pakistani national identity cards”.

Before the launch of census field operation, he said, Nadra (National Database and Registration Authority) should devise a mechanism to differentiate between fake and genuine national identity cards.

Referring to his letter written to National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, he said that in order to harmonise and balance both houses of parliament, Senate should be given representation in the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

A joint PAC with one-third representation from the Senate will be acceptable to the upper house of parliament, he said.

Published in Dawn, February 5th, 2016