CONTRARY to assertions made by the relevant authorities, throughout, about fail-proof arrangements made to obtain census data in a transparent way through the use of digital equipment, a media report claims of ‘unexpected’ results in some parts of the country. It claims ‘abnormal results’ especially in Sindh and Balochistan where unusual growth has been recorded in rural areas (9% growth in Sindh rural areas and 7.8% in rural areas of Balochistan).
As the census data is used as a basis for resource distribution and distribution of seats in the elected houses — right from the local councils to the National Assembly — there is greater interest of the political parties, especially in the politically sensitive areas of the country. An unusual increase in population of rural Sindh raises alarm-bells for MQM due to urban-rural divide that is also relevant for employment opportunities. Similarly, abnormal growth of population in two provinces is also a source of concern for Punjab and KP as their share from the federal divisible pool would come down. Availability of authentic data is a key to the development planning and, therefore, some circles demand the resource distribution should be delinked from the population factor but this will have its own consequences. Unfortunately, there were also serious reservations over the previous census and now attempts are being made to make the digital census also controversial. There might be some lapses or inaccuracies caused by human intervention which can and should be rectified satisfactorily through cross-check practices to make the results authentic and reliable.