Citizens to be counted where they live, says PBS official

Published March 26, 2023
The photo shows Chief Census Commissioner Dr Naeemuz Zafar talking to media. — Twitter
The photo shows Chief Census Commissioner Dr Naeemuz Zafar talking to media. — Twitter

KARACHI: With over 60 per cent of the job done in Sindh, an official from the Pakistan Bureau of Statis­tics (PBS) made it clear on Saturday that “persons will be counted in the area or city where they live and whose resources they use, regardless of [the place] where their identity card is based”.

Teams carrying out the first-ever digital census have so far counted over 31 million people in the province, of which 8.5m are living in Karachi alone.

The fresh numbers were shared by Chief Census Commissioner Dr Naee­muz Zafar during an interaction with media on Saturday.

Mr Zafar clarified a “few myths” about the gigantic task going on simultaneously across the country. Though he would not share any specifics, he did say that PBS had faced some hurdles in the initial days of the exercise when it was launched more than a month ago.

He maintained that the provincial administration had been given access to “digital census monitoring dashboards”, as per their demand.

“We have some 9.7m listed households,” he said, while referring to a presentation made at the PBS office showing the data gathered so far. “More than 6.1m [households] have already been enumerated and process for the remaining is underway. So far, we have counted 31.39m people in Sindh. And in this huge exercise, we have not only counted people or gathered data which we used to collect during the past censuses but also everything which relates to socio-economy.”

The presentation referred to by the chief census commissioner suggests that among the 31.39m people counted in Sindh so far, 16.4m are males, 14.98m females and 1,496 transgender persons.

When asked about the population of Karachi counted so far, he cited the current data showing 8.5m people living in the metropolis.

In reply to a question about the reservations of Sindh government about the digital census and assurances given by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to address them through the PBS mechanism, Mr Zafar said the federal government had allowed all the provincial administrations to access the census monitoring dashboards.

In this connection, he “clarified the misunderstanding” doing the rounds since the exercise began and wondered why it’s still continuing despite the fact that everything was clear to every stakeholder from day one.

“Everyone should understand this; a citizen will be counted in the area or city where he lives and whose resources he uses, regardless of the place where his identity card is based,” Mr Zafar declared while answering a query. “This was clear from the very first day. Your identity card would definitely determine your area of vote or other things, but when it comes to census you would be counted where you live and whose place or resources you use.”

He was confident that migration of flood victims in Sindh would not affect the actual number of population of any district as the methodology designed to count the people carried the provision of such calamity-hit segments of society.

“For instance for around 2.2m people, who migrated from their native towns and villages after the floods, we have an option in the enumeration to mention the migration or displacement. Then for another check, we would share their data with the provincial government. We would also create the table of migration in the final count of the population carrying details of the flood victims,” he explained.

Published in Dawn, March 26th, 2023

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