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ISLAMABAD: The government intends to include orphans and homeless children in the national census scheduled from next month, the National Assembly was informed on Friday.

MNA Begum Tahira Bukhari, while raising several questions regarding the census and its preparation, said the exercise was being held on the basis of the National Database Registration Authority’s data and only the adults holding computerised national identity cards (CNIC) and children registered with Nadra would be counted.

“Whereas, those who have not been registered with Nadra will not be included in the census,” she said.

“Hundreds of children living in orphanages and SOS villages in the country will not be considered Pakistani nationals as they have not been registered with Nadra,” she added.

It had also been observed that many people did not get their children registered with Nadra for a long time, she said, adding that it had been learnt that hundreds of thousands of orphans and other children had not been registered with Nadra and they would not be the part of the national census which was being held after a long gap of 19 years.

Parliamentary Secre­tary on Finance Rana Afzal told the house that Ms Bukhari had raised a valid question about orphans and the government would make arrangements to include such children in the census. He did not elaborate as to how these children would be included in the population count.

Ms Bukhari asked in a written question whether the census would begin on March 15 and whether all the preparations had been completed.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said the population and housing census would begin on the date as the Council of Common Interests (CCI) had decided on Dec 16 that it would be held from March 15 and completed within two months.

He said the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (an attached department of the statistics division) had begun preparatory activities and held meetings with the federal and provincial governments, including the finance, interior and defence ministries, the military operations directorate of the General Headquarters and Nadra.

“Meetings were also held with the provincial chief secretaries to brief them about assistance required from their governments to complete the task,” he said.

The house was informed that the provincial census commissioners had been appointed and an allocation of Rs14.5 billion had been made for the operation.

The finance minister said a series of meetings had been held with the armed forces for ensuring availability of army personnel for deployment at a man-to-man level. “Now they have assured us of the availability of the requisite number of troops,” he said.

An activity calendar had been chalked out and was being pursued vigorously, he said, adding that the appointments of divisional and district census coordinators and district census and delimitation officers had been notified.

Mr Dar said the deployment of the census staff had been completed and field material supplied to the provincial, regional and field offices.

“Preparations are almost complete and the provinces are being pursued regularly to solicit their support for the completion of this task successfully,” he said.

Published in Dawn February 4th, 2017