ISLAMABAD: The record of 70 million Pakistanis is not available with government agencies, the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue was informed on Wednesday.

“Out of Pakistan’s population of 196 million, data of 70 million people is missing and record is not available with the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics and National Database and Registration Authority,” Chief Statistician Asif Bajwa said while briefing the senate panel.

The chief statistician added that complete information regarding the country’s population can only be gained by performing a census.

Bajwa further said census is essential in gauging the number of refugees residing in Pakistan.

“Our department is fully prepared to hold census in the country, however, the army is not ready to provide the required number of personnel,” stated Bajwa.

“Due to the ongoing war on terror, the army is unable to release its personnel for the census and it is impossible to conduct the census without their help.”

Bajwa also informed the committee that 166,000 workers are required to conduct the census, which excludes armed forces personnel.

“We have no plan to conduct population census without assistance of Pak Army,” Bajwa said.

Members of the committee have expressed their concerns over the delay in census due to the non-availability of military personnel and suggested the government to make an alternate plan for the job.

Earlier in July, the federal government told the Supreme Court it was not possible for them to propose a fresh schedule for conducting the population census due to the non-availability of around 167,000 armed forces personnel, who are to be deployed at a man-to-man level.

The population census is the biggest logistic exercise in peacetime, involving the mobilisation of around 200,000 people, including 167,000 enumerators, one for each block — an exercise that will incur an expenditure of Rs14.5 billion.

Censuses conducted

In Pakistan — the first four censuses i.e. 1951, 1961, 1972 and 1981 — were held on time by the Population Census Organisation, in collaboration with staff from the provincial governments.

The fifth census was due in 1991 and the House Listing Operation carried out in 1990 showed abnormal population growth in some parts of the country, which not be justified by normal demographic indicators.

Consequently, the government decided to postpone the 1991 census, it said, adding that another effort was made in 1994, which could not mature due to pressure by from political and ethnic groups.

Finally, it was decided that the 1998 census would be held with the support of the armed forces, which was broadly accepted by all political parties and appreciated internally.

The sixth Population and Housing Census was due in 2008, but could not materialise due to the law and order situation in the country, a paucity of staff and financial constraints.

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