MPC warns against accepting census results if Sindh’s concerns not addressed

Published March 18, 2023
Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah speaks at the multi-party conference on Friday.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah speaks at the multi-party conference on Friday.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

• Khuhro says parties participating in PPP’s event call for extension in last date of population count
• Moot demands general election in all four provinces on basis of new census

KARACHI: A multi-party conference, organised by the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party here on Friday, jointly announced that the results of the seventh national population and housing census would not accepted if the ‘concerns’ of Sindh were not addressed.

The moot, which was attended by many political, religious and nationalist parties, also demanded that the upcoming general elections be held on the basis of the outcome of the digital census in all four provinces.

The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) — an umbrella of different political parties in Sindh — boycotted the conference, while the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan did not attend the event due to its foundation day event scheduled to be held on Saturday (today).

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-Fazl), Awami National Party (ANP), Sindh Taraqqi-pasand Party (STP), Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan (JUP), AWP, AJP and others attended the PPP event.

The electronic media was not allowed to cover the event live except the speeches of Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah and PPP’s Sindh chapter president Senator Nisar Khuhro.

Speaking at the conference, the CM briefing the participants about flaws in the census and said that an estimated 20 per cent population of Sindh was deprived of computerised national identity cards due to which the government could not demand that the census be held on the basis of CNICs.

He demanded that that Sindh government be given access to the census data so that the province should know the number of ‘illegal foreigners’ living in Sindh.

He said that except extending time of the census, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had termed all other demands of Sindh as ‘legitimate’ and directed all relevant authorities to include the province’s suggestions in it.

“We will see as to whether the PM’s directions are implemented,” he said, adding that Sindh had demanded that “illegal foreigners” also be counted to ascertain their number in the province. “We want census but it should be carried out in a transparent manner,” he said.

Senator Khuhro, the host of the event, said there were flaws in the tablets provided to enumerators for digital census.

STP chief Dr Qadir Magsi said that the census tended to take place after a gap of 10 years but this digital census was being done due to the nexus of the MQM-P and PTI.

“The PTI wanted to give legal status to illegal Afghans in Karachi while the MQM-P wanted the same status for Bengalis, Biharis,” he said.

PML-N leader Kheel Das Kohistani said that the census was a constitutional issue but all concerns should be resolved at a constitutional forum.

JUI-F leader Rashid Mehmood Soomro, ANP leader Shahi Syed, Sunni Tehreek’s Aftab Qadri, JI’s Osama Razi, JUP’s Mohammed Haleem Ghauri, AWP and AJP leaders, journalists and writers Nazeer Leghari and Dr Ayub Shaikh, Sindh Graduates Association’s Wali Mohammed and others also spoke.

Parties demand removal of ‘defects’

Later, Senator Khurho told a press conference that the participating parties had demanded that the period of the census be extended.

He said that the moot also demanded that population of the province be counted correctly, the defects in the census removed and ‘illegal immigrants’ be included in a separate box of the census form.

The PPP leader said that the duration for house count and census exercise was not sufficient because it took more than 35 minutes to fill a form and it was not possible for all the enumerators to complete the exercise in such a short time.

“Sindh will not accept the result of the census if all these concerns are not addressed,” he declared.

He said that millions of flood-hit people of Sindh should be counted with the help of the data of the National Database and Regis­tration Authority and receipts should be provided to the families whose houses were being counted so that they could know how many people had been counted.

Mr Khuhro asked as to how elections in two provinces could be conducted on the basis of the 2017 census and rest of the country on the basis of digital census.

“So, we demand that new elections be held simultaneously in the country after the completion of the census,” he said, adding that the general election on the basis of latest census in the remaining two provinces was the beginning of dividing Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, March 18th, 2023

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