• Sharjeel says govt waiting for Islamabad’s response to its reservations
• MQM-P complains of staff shortage, non-functional devices

KARACHI: In an apparent bid to keep up the pressure on the federal government despite being its key ally, the Pakistan Peoples Party-led Sindh government insisted on Friday that it would reject the results of the seventh population census if its concerns were not addressed.

The threat from the provincial government comes just a day after the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) heard all reservations raised by the Sindh government and gave the assurance that the concerns would be conveyed to the top authorities for consideration.

However, reiterating the same stance, Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Memon has said that the government has decided to take a firm position on digital census until the federal government announces measures in its favour.

“PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has already expressed reservations about the census and similarly Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah has also raised this matter with the federal government at all relevant forums,” he told a press conference here.

“In this regard, a meeting was recently held where Federal Minister for Planning Ahsan Iqbal was also present. The federal government heard concerns of the Sindh government. Now we are waiting for the federal government’s response on this issue,” he said.

He announced the provincial government’s future strategy in case things were not settled in its favour. “If our reservations are not addressed, we will not accept the results of the digital census,” he warned.

“The Sindh government has conveyed their reservation on the digital census to the federal government. We want that all political parties and civil society have full confidence in the digital census and each and every person residing in the province is counted,” he said.

He said that the head of a family should know if he or she had registered 10 members of their family, they should be reflected in the digital census data.

The minister demanded that the data of digital census be shared with the Sindh government.

“Similarly, we want that in this digital census, all the people, including those living illegally, should be counted as members of this province’s population so that the correct number of our actual population should be available with the government,” added Mr Memon.

He said the PPP leadership and its provincial government in Sindh agreed that the headcount of the province should be reflected in the fresh census, which had always been a source of disagreement among stakeholders.

MQM concerns also persist

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), which is also one of the coalition partners in the federal government, on Friday also expressed concerns over ‘shortage’ of census staff, ‘non-functioning’ of digital devices and other problems arising during counting of population.

A party delegation led by MPA Rana Ansar met Deputy Commissioner-East Tabraiz Siddiq Marri and demanded that authorities concerned address the issues hindering the smooth process of population counting in one of the most populated districts of the city.

A statement issued by the party after the meeting said that the MQM-P legislator and leaders briefed the official about the complaints emerging during the census process.

“There’s an immense shortage of the census staff in the district and a significant number of those who have been assigned the task of carrying out the huge exercise remains absent from their duties,” said the statement.

“The number of census staffers must be increased on an urgent basis. Similarly, the gadgets being used by the staff often develop issues and stop working with serious interruption in internet connectivity. There are also complaints from area people that their areas have not been visited yet by the census staff.”

Published in Dawn, March 11th, 2023

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