KARACHI: Terming the Census 2017 an injustice to Sindh and Balochistan, Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Thursday announced in the Sindh Assembly that the provincial government would take the matter to parliament under the constitutional provisions.
Giving a policy statement on the census issue in the house, he said that the provincial cabinet had decided to file a reference in parliament as a province could move parliament in case it did not agree to a decision taken by the Council of Common Interests (CCI).
Murad Ali Shah also asked the National Assembly speaker and the Senate chairman to summon a joint parliament session to discuss the Sindh government’s reference.
He demanded that the federal government conduct census afresh and said that the Census 2017 was conducted 19 years after the Census 1998 but again it became controversial soon after the declaration of its provisional results.
The chief minister said that during the tenure of the PML-N government the provisional results of Census 2017 were not accepted by any of the provincial governments and the census became controversial as all provinces had reservations over its results.
He said the General Elections 2018 were held under the census of 2017 for which the PML-N government had taken all the parties, including the PPP in Sindh and the PTI in KP, on board to pave the way for holding the polls.
‘According to a Unicef survey, Sindh’s population comes to around 61 million against 47m showed in Census 2017’
He said he had dissented with other members of the CCI in approving the Census 2017, adding that it happened for the very first time in the CCI history since 1973 that any of its decisions was not taken unanimously.
The chief minister said that as per Census 2017, 5.54 people were living per household in Sindh, while as per a Unicef survey there were 7.2 persons per household in the province.
He said that as per Census 2017, KP had 8.02 persons living in a household, while as per the Unicef survey the province had 7.6 persons per household.
Similarly, he said that Punjab had 6.43 persons per household in the Census 2017, whereas the Unicef survey said it had 6.3 persons per household.
Mr Shah recalled that as per Census 2017, Balochistan had 7.06 persons living per household, whereas the Unicef survey said it had 7.7 persons living per household.
Recalling the CCI meetings, he said that it was decided that one per cent of the census blocks would be verified. He said a similar suggestion had also been given from the Senate and the senators had also prepared a document, but the federal government in the CCI had vowed to verify five per cent of the blocks.
The CM said that in the last CCI meeting held in the PML-N tenure on May 27, 2018, the Statistics Division stated that they could not verify five per cent of the blocks, therefore, it was decided to refer the matter to parliament.
He said that based on the Unicef survey the total population of Sindh would come to around 61 million as opposed to 47m showed in Census 2017.
Separately, Opposition Leader Haleem Adil Sheikh suggested to the speaker to convene a special sitting of the assembly to discuss the census matter. He said census should have been conducted in 2008 by the then federal government.
Separately, two bills — The Provincial Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2021 and The Sindh Public Finance Administration Bill, 2019 — were passed in the assembly.
Besides, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mukesh Kumar Chawla laid before the house budget execution reports of the first and second quarters of financial year 2020-21.
The house also carried a motion to hold a joint sitting for pre-budget discussion from Monday by deferring all other business of the assembly.
The house unanimously adopted a resolution tabled by Haleem Adil Sheikh for taking a 15-minute prayer break during the proceedings.
Published in Dawn, April 23rd, 2021