PTI, MQM-P agree to hold ‘early’ census

Published January 17, 2021
A file photo of the 2017 census. — Fahim Siddiqui/White Star
A file photo of the 2017 census. — Fahim Siddiqui/White Star

KARACHI: In what appears to be an attempt to ignore the persistent protests by almost every major political party against the approval of the controversial National Census 2017, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and its coalition partner Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan tried to move on and claimed to have agreed on Saturday on the need of conducting an early nationwide population count.

The PTI and MQM-P have come under strong criticism for accepting the census results in a cabinet meeting held on Dec 22, 2020. MQM-P had written a dissenting note but still it is widely seen as being complicit in the approval.

On Saturday, a PTI delegation headed by Federal Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Minister Asad Umar and Sindh Governor Imran Ismail visited the MQM-P’s temporary headquarters in Bahadurabad where they held a meeting with party convener Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui and others.

It was the second visit of the PTI during a short span of two weeks as on Dec 31, 2020 the local leadership of the PTI met their coalition partners only a day after the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party in Sindh visited the MQM-P asking it to adopt a united front against the centre’s move to accept the National Census-2017.

The main agenda of Saturday’s meeting between the PTI and MQM-P remained focused around the census as both parties were concerned about the political fallout of accepting the 2017 results.

The population census is due to be held every 10 years in the country, but the last headcount was conducted after over 17 years.

Cabinet body formed

Talking to reporters after the meeting, Mr Umar said that a cabinet committee headed by MQM-P’s IT and Telecom Minister Aminul Haque had been constituted which would present its recommendation to the cabinet for holding an early census.

He said that a technical committee had also been constituted in this regard which would review the process of census across the world to create an effective system.

He said the parties protesting against the census results should also visit Peshawar to stage their protests there since census was not only the issue of Karachi but the entire country.

“We need to bring improvements in the whole system and we are heading towards a best system to conduct census,” he said.

Governor Ismail said that the federal government would not delay holding the census as soon as the cabinet committee completes its recommendations.

Earlier, MQM-P convener Dr Siddiqui told reporters that the two parties had agreed to conduct the new census before time because not only Karachi and the rest of Sindh, but people of KP and Balochistan also had serious reservations on the results of the sixth population census.

Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2021

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