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Census begins in 63 districts today

Updated Mar 15, 2017 12:40pm

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HYDERABAD: Army personnel examine the documents of the field staff at the assistant commissioner's office on Tuesday.—INP
HYDERABAD: Army personnel examine the documents of the field staff at the assistant commissioner's office on Tuesday.—INP

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s largest-ever population census will kick off on Wednesday (today) in 63 districts of the country after a delay of 19 years.

“All arrangements have been put in place for the first phase of the census. The field staff has received the required material,” Chief Statistician Asif Bajwa told Dawn.

He said as many as 118,000 enumerators from different departments, including the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), had been provided training. Moreover, 175,000 army personnel have also been deployed in the districts.

The army personnel, he said, would be involved in enumeration as well as providing security to the surveyors.

The first phase of the exercise will end on April 15. The second phase will commence on April 25 and end on May 25. In the second phase, 87 districts will be covered. Census reports will be completed in two months.

The chief statistician said no change had been made in the original plan.

Asked about reservations expressed by some political parties over the conduct of the census, the chief statistician said he couldn’t stop anyone from issuing statements. “We will follow the agreed scheme,” he said.

The major concern raised over the conduct of the census is from three provinces — Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa — and related to internal migration. A similar concern has been voiced by temporarily displaced tribal people. It is not clear whether the internally displaced persons will be counted in their native areas or where they are living at present.

The Balochistan National Party-Mengal and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan have filed petitions in the superior courts regarding their concerns on the census.

The National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) has blocked 350,000 computerised national identity cards (CNICs) ahead of the first phase of the census.

Mr Bajwa claimed that most of the blocked CNICs belonged to Afghan nationals. However, he added, the census would cover all people living in the country irrespective of their ethnicity or nationality. Foreign nationals would also be registered.

However, in the census reports only those Afghans will be counted who have valid Pakistani CNICs and the rest will be left out. The PBS will use Nadra database to check fake CNICs.

On internal migration, he said people who had migrated from one province to another and stayed there for more than six months would be counted as part of the population of the host province.

Meanwhile in a response to a letter of Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has sought to allay the concerns of the province.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Mr Dar said army personnel would work with civil enumerators to ensure a transparent and smooth census.

Coordination and vigilance committees had been set up at the census district level to monitor the process and ensure accuracy of data collection, he said, adding that a transparent census was a national effort which could only be successful with the cooperation and support of all concerned.

However, the minister said, public access to data at the census district level was not possible as the census data would not be processed at the district level. “Also the law prohibits sharing of data before it is anonymised.”

Referring to the chief minister’s proposal for the setting up of complaint redressal system, he said an elaborate complaint redressal system had been put in place. Control rooms have been established at federal, provincial, divisional, administration district and census district level to cater to the issues of non/over/under enumeration during the census operation.

On the proposal of doing away with the condition of CNIC for the census, Mr Dar clarified that CNIC was not mandatory. Only CNIC of the head of the family or any responsible person is required to ensure authenticity of data.

If a family member does not have a CNIC, they can provide other forms of identification to prove their identity. In the extreme case of no member of a family having a CNIC, the family would still be enumerated, he added.

To further strengthen the transparency of the process, Mr Dar proposed the setting up of a committee of technical experts, nominated by the provincial governments, to monitor the data processing at PBS headquarters and ensure that all parameters of the data processing were being uniformly applied across the country.

The first census in the country was conducted in 1951, the second in 1961, the third in 1972, instead of 1971 due to political turmoil, and the fourth in 1981. The fifth census, which was due in 1991, was conducted in March 1998 with the help of the army.

The census is considered to be one of the basic elements for judicious distribution of resources, calculating representation in parliament, electoral processes, tax collection, tackling civic issues, including growing urbanisation, and evaluation of resources for infrastructure development.

Under the constitution, the government is bound to conduct census every 10 years.

Published in Dawn, March 15th, 2017

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Comments (32) Closed



IMTIAZ ALI KHAN Mar 15, 2017 07:35am

Good to see census taking place after almost 20 years. Only with most accurate data of population, we can come up with future planning for the development of Pakistan. Good job the civilian leadership and all three branches of Armed forces of Pakistan.

Madeeha mahmood Mar 15, 2017 07:56am

Census is extremrly important activity for the future of the country. Hope and pray it is completed successfully.

Fast Mar 15, 2017 07:57am

Remember in 1998 it was Nawaz govt and now again it is Nawaz govt which is conducting census. Thank you NS.

Raza Farooqui-NY Mar 15, 2017 08:25am

I am doubtful about the credibility of the whole exercise. Pakistan can never have the true census. Sindh, and Balauchistan will never get the due share.

People from all over the country are moving to Sindh, but the percentage of the population with respect to the whole population remains the same. This leads to the same percentage from NFC award for Sindh Urban and rural.

Manzoor Mar 15, 2017 08:37am

This would be a singular contribution of PMLN government to Pakistan for it would determine as how the country will do in future.

Jamil Mar 15, 2017 08:46am

My estimates 250 millions Plus

MUHAMMAD FAHEEM KHAN Mar 15, 2017 09:14am

Pak Army Zindabad!

Subhash bose Mar 15, 2017 09:16am

India does it regularly in 644 Districts without any military aid for population of 6 times than Pakistan.

What is a great fuss about it ??

Farrukh Arshad Mar 15, 2017 09:20am

Really excited about it and looking forward to the results of gathered data.

Ali_khan Mar 15, 2017 09:22am

Most important point of this census is its integrity. Dear Authorities concerned, Please Don't pollute it with vested interest to change actual figures of census. life is so short....... think about poor people and do something for their better life

Khurram Mar 15, 2017 09:37am

This population may result in pakistan becoming most populous muslim nation in the world.

Rigi Mar 15, 2017 10:19am

Aft 20 years????

Ali_khan Mar 15, 2017 10:18am

Authentic figures are necessary for equitable distributions of country resources, jobs and for future planing...... and this will be a fruitful for future of our country

Alam Mar 15, 2017 10:35am

@Raza Farooqui-NY Right . I second your opinion

Make Pakistan great Mar 15, 2017 10:37am

It is necessary that census is carried out regularly and it is heartening that the exercise has started today, albeit after a long period of 18 years and at the intercession of the superior judiciary.

However, it must be ensured that the process is transparent and above any criticism. Already there is a lot of talk about machinations to influence the results. If this is allowed to happen, it would not only be divisive for the nation but would be extremely unfortunate for the country' progress and prosperity.

Make Pakistan great Mar 15, 2017 10:54am

@Raza Farooqui-NY

It requires the Sindh government to be very vigilant and ensure that true and credible figures are arrived at as a result of the whole exercise. If the Sindh government sleeps over this issue as is its routine, then it would be no use crying over spilled milk later on.

Sab se pehle pakistan Mar 15, 2017 11:11am

This census is rigged by PPP government in Sindh and PML-N government in Panjab and Federal.

sasidhar Mar 15, 2017 11:40am

Actually government in all the different regions in Pakistan can engage the personals from govt institutions to do this exercise every year so that the census remains updated or else they can hire ppl for this work by this they can create job opportunities.

N K Ali Mar 15, 2017 11:47am

Wishing the Census 2017 the very best of luck, impartiality and Godspeed. Salams

Husain Mar 15, 2017 11:56am

I am not sure if it's being done right. The officials came to my driver's house, only asked for his CNIC, asked if it's a family house. When he started telling them about the other residents, they said they don't need the info. They are three brothers, one with six children and another with two and the third unmarried. The six children have a municipal birth certificate but not registered on B form of Nadra. Seems like they will only rely on Nadra data to verify the owner of family. If this is just a Nadra data verification in person service, it's not a Census!!!

The end is near Mar 15, 2017 12:04pm

There are thousands and thousands of Fake CNIC holders and illegal Afghanis plus refugees so you can never know exactly the real number of people living in this country. NADRA officials issued great number of fake CNIC's to illegal Afghanis during the recent years and made extra millions of rupees but no serious action have yet been taken against those responsible.

Sameer Mar 15, 2017 12:05pm

@Raza Farooqui-NY Since you are in NewYork, I can understand you are unaware of the ground realities. Sindh goverment had its chance but it was busy looting. Now present gov is busy looting and still conducting census.

Sameer Mar 15, 2017 12:06pm

@Fast let me clear that the census is being held under SC orders otherwise next elections cannot be held.Nawax Gov had no options.

®pot_belly dancer ω Mar 15, 2017 12:06pm

Congratulations Pakistan towards prosperity from Indian

Sab se pehle pakistan Mar 15, 2017 12:05pm

A rigged census would lead to rigged next general election.

Waaris Mar 15, 2017 12:17pm

@Raza Farooqui-NY, very true! The local government will show higher population in areas of their political stronghold so that their assembly seat is confirmed for the next 20 years!!

Abu najam Mar 15, 2017 12:26pm

The cenus personnel came. It was tiresome, both for them and the people. Why don't this be put online where all the information, including identity card numbers of all adults is entered. Given information could then be verified through NADRA records as well physically by informing in advance to keep ready original identity cards for re-verification. That would save time and be in line with the latest methods used in the developed world.

Bhargav Mar 15, 2017 12:28pm

Good Luck and best wishes,

Abdulla Hussain Mar 15, 2017 01:09pm

This census will be rigged specially in Sindh, they want the population density of their choice.

taha Mar 15, 2017 01:15pm

Census is duty of any Govt in power. This Govt thinks its doing a favour to people of Pakistan albiet on its last breath.

MaLIK_AWAN Mar 17, 2017 08:06pm

@Raza Farooqui-NY The first question you should be asking yourself is how are the already allocated funds from NFC to Balochistan and Sindh are being utilized in this and the last government. Get over the Punjab blame game and first start scrutinizing the governments.

Haris Mar 18, 2017 01:55pm

I live and karachi and no one came at my house !!