LAHORE: As the stand-off on the delimitation bill between the PML-N and the PPP persisted on Tuesday despite Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s intervention, the former says it is willing to consider ‘genuine’ demands of the latter if it shows “flexibility”.
The PPP has presented 12 demands to the PML-N leadership on the issue of the delimitation, saying these are the legitimate proposals and the ruling party, instead of blaming it for any conspiracy to delay the 2018 election, should itself show flexibility and accept all of these without any further delay.
The PPP’s parliamentary leader in the Senate, Mr Taj Haider, told Dawn on Tuesday that the PML-N should stop “foolishly” blaming his party for not supporting the delimitation bill in the upper house.
“The PML-N government is making hue and cry that the election will be delayed if the PPP does not support the bill. It should stop fooling the people and accept our demands which are aimed at protecting the rights of the people of Sindh. The draft of our proposals has been handed over to the PML-N leaders, including the prime minister, but none of them is telling us what is wrong with them and where the problem lies in its implementation,” Mr Haider said.
Why the government was not showing any flexibility on these demands, he asked.
The government should concede that a “big fraud” had taken place (in Sindh) in the name of census and take immediate measures to undo it, he added.
“The PML-N itself is a product of the establishment and it is blaming us for not supporting the bill at the behest of someone,” Taj Haider said.
Federal Minister for Climate Change Senator Mushahidullah Khan told Dawn the government was ready to consider the PPP’s ‘genuine’ demands but it was not possible to accept the proposals like carrying out demographic survey through an international organisation.
The PML-N, he said, would have appreciated the PPP if it had brought forth these demands before voting for the delimitation bill in the National Assembly.
“We wish to have the PPP on board. Since we are engaged with the PPP leadership at different levels, my hunch is that a breakthrough is expected anytime,” the minister said and added the government might continue its efforts to woo the PPP till the next week.
According to the document listing the PPP’s 12 demands, “A Census Verification Commission consisting of three recognised demographers should be appointed through mutual consultation for a duration of three months to undertake the Post Enumeration Survey (PES). This job requires qualified and recognised demographers. The Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) has become highly controversial. Its part in PES should be restricted to providing logistic and administrative assistance to the commission. Census blocks to be included in PES should be selected through Random Sampling Programme by computer at the district level. Migrants and illegal (residents) were excluded from the count because of the de-jure method of enumeration that registered people on their original place of residence and not on their present place of residence. The condition of showing Nadra identification also excluded those who did not have identity cards.”
The PPP further proposes that PES should be conducted in randomly selected blocks through de-facto method which counts every resident who was at a place of residence the previous night.
“Curfew should be imposed in the selected blocks for a day to carry out the PES. Army should not be involved in enumeration as was done in Census 2017. Enumeration should be done on templates and the data should be transmitted online after counting each house to the office of the commission and the provincial government, “ it proposes.
The PPP suggests the UN Population Fund can also provide consultancy services to give technical inputs for the Census Commission to carry out PES. Any variance beyond these limits should be incorporated in final census figures, it adds.
“Delimitation of only national and provincial assemblies’ constituencies and not those of the local government was done. The PPP feels that delimitation according to the principles laid down in section 20 can be carried out in a very short time by the federal and provincial election commissions.”
The PPP says it feels that if the delimitation is done according to principles laid down in section 20, there will be very few representations. “However, if there is a high number of representations then more tribunals can be constituted to decide upon the representations. In 2013 election, constituencies were revised even 15 days before the polls .”
The PPP says the government should not have any hesitation in adopting these recommendations and holding the elections on time.
Published in Dawn, December 13th, 2017