THE federal government has initiated the process of digital census and the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) has launched a digital portal where people may submit their data as part of the self-enumeration phase.
This is a good initiative to speed up the census process. However, when I tried to register myself, I found that it is not possible since the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) system is specific to the territory comprising the present-day Pakistan.
The Nadra database does not recognise that from 1947 till 1971 there used to be a part of this country, called the East Pakistan. My late father, belonging to Chakwal district, was posted in East Pakistan, where I was born at Rajshahi in 1964.
According to the Nadra database, I was born in ‘Bangladesh’ when the fact is that there was no such country existing in 1964.
When I went to register myself with the PBS self-enumeration portal and tried to fill in place of my birth, the country of my birth is being shown as Bangladesh. It is a strange paradox since anyone born before 1947 in, say, Lahore, will be treated to have been born in Pakistan and not British India. Why do I, and others like me, have to say we were born in Bangladesh, and not Pakistan?
It is time we learnt to respect historical facts, and that although geographical names have changed with time, we need to keep the records factually correct.
Published in Dawn, March 24th, 2023
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