Census to start from tomorrow, becoming major issue of contention

7

Salahuddin Haider

NATIONAL Census, details of which were announced in Islamabad by the State Minister for Information and ISPR chief Maj-Gen. Asif Ghafoor in Islamabad Sunday, has become a major issue of contention in Sindh.
A wide variety of views are coming forward. Two of these very pertinent. First one is a DO letter from the provincial chief minister Murad Ali Shah, in which he had made certain observations and suggestions, and second one came from opposition leader Dr Farooq Sattar who feared deliberate mischief in a vital exercise.
But one thing was common in both of these leaders. They demanded transparency, which both Maryamm Aurangzeb and ISPR chief re-assured the countrymen will be kingpin of the massive operation in which 200,000 troops will participate to cover 1,60,000 blocks of houses in the country.
While the contents of the letter to federal government by the Sindh chief minister appears in considerable detail in these pages, Dr Farooq Sattar invited media for luncheon to exchange notes with them.
First of all, MQM Pakistan leader, struck a reconciliatory note during his informal discussion with editor and senior journalists, making it clear that he would not hate to say anything against his former colleagues, hinting at MQM London or the breakaway faction known as Pak Sarzameen Party. This was something really new, for so far a bitter battle of hot words, accusations and allegations have been the order of the day.
“ There is no need now, and we must shed negative politics.This is not our agenda” he explained in unambiguous terms. According to him a plan ‘Advance rigging in census” ha already begun. He said while his party has knocked at the doors of the Supreme Court against Census, there are reports that rural areas are being show to have larger population than Urban territories of the province,
For instance, he charged that he had evidence to support that populations of Ghotki and Shikarpur were being multiplied manifold to downgrade that of Karachi. In fact these very small towns will have three to four time more population after the census than Karachi, which is already bursting from seams and has crossed the 20 million mars.
He wondered as to why this has been happening in Sindh alone for years. He said a UN report was on record as confirming that children mortality rates were higher in interior of the province, an yet the rural population was becoming higher and higher, which is really surprising.
Compared to that resource-wise urban population in Sindh was not showing the real statistics. The income generating capacity of urban areas of the province, was gradually reducing which again was shocking.
Questioning as to what will be end of an exercise which had faults from the start, he was keen to know as to why Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf and Jamat-i-Islami, which fixed their eyes on Karachi, was silent on Census issue, and not raising their voice on a sensitive issue like this.
Neither has these two parties or any other party, exploring chances for winning seats from Karachi and Hyderabad, had done homework, and were raising flimsy issues in their speeches and statement about Karachi which, after census, may have larger number of legislative representation.
In the past too, no political party has raised issues of Karachi and its people effectively, except doing mere lip service. However, he saw ray of light because of the presence of troops at every block of houses of 200 to 300. One soldier will be with enumerator throughout this exercise which is something satisfactory, MQM Pakistan leader said.
Citing figures he said rural areas have been shown to have 21,381 blocks whereas Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur, had just17,496 blocks. He hoped that army will play its part well and will not allow injustice to be done with urban population of a province, where the urban-rural ratio is 60:40 and perhaps more. The census will bring forth the right statistics. Whatever the result, holding of Census on phases again will raise new questions, analysts think.