KARACHI: In a strong stand against its own coalition partners at the Centre, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) on Tuesday rejected the so far results of the ongoing digital census released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics and demanded that the ongoing process be halted immediately.
The party rejected what it called a flawed exercise being executed by the employees of the Pakistan Peoples Party-led Sindh government just to keep the population of Karachi undercounted to contain its political, economic and social rights.
Although senior MQM-P leader Dr Farooq Sattar did not mention his party’s future strategy if their demands were not, he made it clear that the MQM-P was not going to accept the results of the digital census “at any cost” as it was “a matter of life and death”.
“Above all, it is so unfortunate that the PML-N has connived with the PPP and is very much involved in the design to keep Karachi’s population undercounted for long-term political implications,” Dr Sattar told a press conference at the party’s temporary headquarters in Bahadurabad.
Sattar alleges PPP-led Sindh govt using provincial employees to manipulate population of urban Sindh
“We demand to stop this [digital census] immediately and launch it again in a proper way,” he said.
He said that every person should have access to the census data to see whether he or his family had been counted or not. “What’s the mechanism for a common man to get satisfied? It’s so alarming that the provincial government [of PPP] has taken the PML-N on board for its illegal occupation of urban Sindh.”
Referring to the recent data that suggests less than 8.5 million people in Karachi had so far been counted, he said: “After 100 per cent count is completed, I even doubt that the population of Karachi will hardly be showed more than 20 million.”
He pointed out “basic flaws” in the census and demanded that the authorities take notice of loopholes identified by the MQM-P.
Dr Sattar also questioned the calculation under which Karachi was divided into 16,000 census blocks.
There should be, he believed, not less than 27,000 blocks in Karachi for the census.
He also defined the objectives of the “vested interests” in the PPP for deliberately keeping the population count of Karachi and urban Sindh on a lower side.
“The PPP knows very well that it can only retain the government in the province by manipulating the census results,” he said. “It knows if the true population is reflected in the digital census, the next chief minister of Sindh would be from urban areas, which would lead to an end to the feudal style politics.”
“Therefore, the PPP-led Sindh government has laid down a whole plan very intelligently and this time it has used government employees for all this manoeuvring. The plan designed by the PPP government is now being executed by the Sindh government employees,” he alleged.
He said that the next general elections would solely depend on the census data and if the current exercise would not reflect the actual numbers, the results of the next polls would become controversial.
Published in Dawn, March 29th, 2023
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