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Under construction structures — File Photo
Under construction structures — File Photo

ISLAMABAD: The government-run statistics bureau is worried about ‘unnatural growth’ of houses in Sindh and Balochistan and wants Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf to address the issue.

The house listing survey 2011 which has revealed the abnormal growth is of significant importance because it will be used to determine shifts in population and fresh demarcation of electoral districts and constituencies for the 2013 general election, besides determining ethnic ratio in the provinces.

According to an official, major growth was recorded in areas dominated by the MQM in Karachi and PPP constituencies in Sindh. In Balochistan, the growth was seen in both Baloch and Pakhtun areas.

“We have requested the prime minister to take a look into the house listing survey,” Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) Secretary Sohail Ahmad informed a meeting of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Statistics on Tuesday.

He said the prime minister had been requested to hold meetings with the chief ministers on the issue because different ethnic communities in Sindh and Balochistan were “very sensitive” about the census.

Mr Ahmad did not elaborate when he was asked what he wanted the prime minister to do.

The authorities faced a similar problem during the house listing survey in 1991 and as a result the population survey was delayed till 1998.

The survey had been conducted only after an assurance that its results would not be used to redraw seats of the national and provincial assemblies, Dr Kaiser Bengali told Dawn.

Had the earlier survey results been implemented, he said, seats of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) would have reduced to seven from the existing nine.

The housing listing survey 2011 recorded higher growth in populations of Sindh and Balochistan. A very nominal growth was seen in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, while there was no growth in Punjab.

Asked when the second phase of population census (individual counting) would be launched, the PBS secretary said he needed approval from the prime minister.

“This is a huge exercise. We need human resources for it,” he said, adding that in some countries the governments even closed all offices for a few days to complete the survey.

Experts are of the opinion that because of massive migration of people within a province or across provinces after the military operations in Fata and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and devastating floods in Sindh in 2010 major changes were expected in population.

As per international standards, population survey is to be held after 10 years. In Pakistan population survey was due in 2008, but it was delayed till 2010.

“If the survey is conducted after 10 years its data become unreliable as per international standards,” the experts say.

The standing committee’s meeting presided over by Usman Khan Tarakai was held at the newly-built Statistics House. It was attended by MNAs Shahnaz Wazir Ali, Pirzada Imran Ali Shah, Muhammad Arshad Khan Leghari, Nisar Tanveer and Sufyan Yusaf.

The PSB secretary briefed the meeting on the population survey.

Ironically, the technical briefing which should have been given to the committee at the first meeting was given at its 19th meeting.