Sindh Assembly refuses to accept census results

Published November 3, 2017
SINDH Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah speaks during the assembly session on Thursday.—PPI
SINDH Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah speaks during the assembly session on Thursday.—PPI

KARACHI: Pointing out various anomalies in the exercise, the Sindh Assembly refused on Thursday to accept the results of the census.

In support of its stand, it pointed out that the population of Karachi was 9.39 million in the fifth census report of 1998, and after 19 years it was shown as only 14.9 million with an annual growth rate of 2.41 per cent. Millions of the people were shown with double addresses and counted in their home provinces though they worked and lived in Sindh. This was an unfair treatment to Sindh which could not be allowed.

“We will get back what is rightfully ours as our resources and our representation in the National Assembly depend on the population census,” lawmakers said during the two-hour-long discussion on an adjournment motion of Nusrat Sahar Abbasi of the Pakistan Muslim League-Functional regarding results of population and housing census, 2017.

Murad urges lawmakers to check census results and get anomalies corrected

Over a dozen lawmakers across the aisle could speak when deputy speaker Syeda Shehla Raza, presiding over the session, called it a day to reassemble on Friday at 10am after the policy statement by Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah.

Speaking on the adjournment motion, Mr Shah recalled the history of the census after 19 years, that too on a Supreme Court order.

He also referred to the discussion and suggestions he had made at Council of Common Interests meetings on the need to ensure the census in a transparent manner to make it acceptable to all people. He regretted that his suggestions were not heeded by the authorities concerned, who argued that the armed forces would be with the census teams to ensure transparency.

The chief minister, referring to the thin attendance of legislators in the house at the time of his speech, said that after the Kalabagh dam project, the population census was the most important issue but “I don’t find seriousness of the lawmakers. If we are really serious to get back due rights of our province, instead of depending on others, we must work in our respective constituencies. We should verify the census results from census block figures on the website from the REN-II form, which shows total houses and complete data of the population in the particular census block and on finding a discrepancy it should be notified to the authorities concerned to get it corrected because the census results would be finalised in April 2018.”

He said our resources and representation in the National Assembly depended on it. He had suggested that every block should comprise 250 to 300 houses and its REN-II form having details of the number of houses and total population of the block be displayed at the census office and the website so that stakeholders could find out the total population of the block. “But my suggestions were termed impossible because of the confidentiality of the information”.

He said that on Aug 25 at the CCI meeting a presentation was given on the provisional results of the census and it was stated that the final results would be made public in April 2018, which would be the basis of fresh demarcation of constituencies. He said he did not agree with the census results but only asked for making the provisional results public.

He said the total population after the 1998 census was shown as 132.35 million which, according to the provisional results of 2017, had reached 207.77m, showing an annual growth rate of 2.4pc. The highest growth was in Balochistan, which was 3.37, followed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with 2.89pc, Sindh 2.41pc and Punjab 2.13pc.

He said he did not like to say that the census results be rejected because with their rejection we would go back to the census figures of 1998, which would be our loss. However, if anyone had an objection to the blocks figures and the provisional results, the stakeholders should file objections about it.

He said that in Sindh there were 39,139 blocks, in Balochistan 10,212 and in Punjab 87,006 blocks. One could get the data of the blocks from the census office for verification if there was a big difference and if a stakeholder had an objection, it should be taken up with the authorities for clarification in blocks.

Syed Sardar Ahmad of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan said that neither water nor resources were being provided. “If the federation continued this high-handedness, the people would rise up against it,” he said. The census was conducted after 19 years whose results were manipulated.

Sabir Qaimkhani, Heer Ismail Soho, Rashid Khilji, Deewan Chand Chawla, Rauf Siddiqui of the MQM, Samar Ali Khan of the PTI, Saeed Khan Nizamani of the PML-F, Javed Nagori, Ziaul Hasan Lanjar and Syed Nasir Hussain Shah of the PPP also said this augurs well that all political parties and civil society institutions were on one platform on the census issue.

They said if our grievances were not addressed and delimitation of constituencies were not marked on the basis of registered voters, the people would take to the streets over it. “We all have to struggle unitedly for the rights of Sindh as it is not against anyone but for the rights of Sindh.”

Published in Dawn, November 3rd, 2017

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