Follow Us on Google News
On Monday, after a gap of over three three-and-a-half years, the Council of Common Interests (CCI) approved the controversial national population and housing census-2017 with a majority vote and decided to begin the process for a new census by the end of 2021 under which the 2023 general elections will be held. While Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, Punjab, approved the census-2017 results, Sindh rejected them by expressing concerns over the result.
A meeting of the Council of Common Interests presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan decided that all stakeholders would be taken on board for holding the fresh census so that there could be no deviation from any level.
The Council of Common Interests is a forum in which the four Chief Ministers of the provinces and Prime Minister Imran Khan sit together and make important decisions. Let’s take a look at the new census decision in light of the 2017 census results.
The latest census in Pakistan
The last census in Pakistan was conducted in 2017 whereas before that the census in Pakistan was conducted every 10 years. The first census was conducted four years after independence in 1951, then in 1981, 1972, 1961 and 1998. The 1972 census was originally scheduled for 1971 but was delayed by a year due to the war with India, and then the 1991 census was delayed due to political turmoil.
Controversial census of 2017
The federal planning ministry released the numbers of census 2017 results noting the total population of the country stands at 207.7 million. According to the planning ministry, the total headcount of Pakistan’s largest province Punjab is 52.9 percent of the entire population, followed by Sindh stands second with 23 percent.
The ministry finalized the census results and said Khyber Pakhtunkhwa comprises 14.6 percent of the national population, while Balochistan is 5.9 percent. The total populace of FATA remains 2.4 of the entire count, and that of Islamabad Capital Territory stands at 0.96.
Over 106 million of all the people counted in the census were males while 101.3 million were females, as per the 2017 count. The growth rate of the population on the other hand recorded to be 2.4% compared to the 1998 count.
Reservations over the census result
This count is the foundation of our participatory democracy. It serves as a foundation for equitable representation, civil rights protections, housing, resource distribution, education funding and more.
Our well-being and future prosperity depend upon exact and complete information accumulated by the government. When the results of the 2017 census came out, there were strong objections from Sindh and Balochistan.
The biggest objection was that the population of Sindh and Balochistan had been underestimated on the basis of which it would not be possible to have representation in the federal government and a fair distribution of resources.
Karachi has retained the label of the most populous metropolis of Pakistan, however, its population stood at only 14.9 million, which is far below the number anyone anticipated.
Provisional results of the 6th Population Census show that in the past 19 years, there was a 60 percent raise in Karachi’s population, compared with a 116 percent raise in Lahore’s population, which rose to 11.126 million people by 2017, showed the results.
If we compare the results of the census in Karachi and the population of 1998, then the population of Karachi has increased by about 60%, which shows that the estimated population in the census is less.
Political parties’ reservations
The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) rejected the federal government decision regarding the Census 2017 result, saying that it was unfortunate that the Federal government had opted to bypass the agreement of the parliamentary leaders of the Senate for correcting the highly controversial Census 2017 results through a recount of the population in 5 percent randomly selected population blocks.
In this regard, a resolution had earlier passed by consensus with the opposition parties in the Sindh Assembly. MQM-P and PPP demanded a third-party audit of the census results.
Sindh government said that the Sindh Chief Minister did not agree with the decision of the Council of Common Interests and had submitted dissenting notes. The Sindh government will take the matter to Parliament under Article 154 (7) of the Constitution.
Coordinated efforts a need of the hour
In fact, the results of the census affect every sphere of life, including the distribution of resources, human development and social welfare. It is under the census that governments plan for human beings.
After the reservations on the census in Karachi, the citizens do not seem to be pleased with the results. It is time to own Karachi by giving all due rights. To counter this impending existential threat, long-term coordinated efforts are needed to resolve related to the census in the metropolis.
The main ‘stakeholder’ of the city is the citizens of Karachi, who have been victimized over the last 41 years. In the past, both PPP and MQM failed in solving the issue of this commercial hub. Karachi issues need to be looked into above all ethnic biases.
The Council of Common Interests had decided by a majority to approve the census results. The new census framework will be ready in the next 6 to 8 months. It is imperative to conduct the fresh census in accordance with UN principles all stakeholders should be taken on board so that there could be no reservation from any side.