Census may be by next March

Sophia Siddiqui

Islamabad—The government is considering conducting the census between November this year and March next year, which was earlier deferred by the meeting of council of common interests due to non availability of sufficient number of troops.
“There is a window of opportunity to conduct the next Census between November and March. This is subject to improvement of security situation as well as availability of sufficient troops,” stated Federal Minister for Law Zahid Hamid while responding to a call attention notice in the Senate on Tuesday.
Zahid Hamid pointed out that the decision to defer the census was taken at the meeting of Council of Common Interests February this year due to the non-availability of sufficient number of personnel from the armed forces. The Minister said nobody can deny the significance of census and it was the PML-N which conducted last census in 1998.
The census is a constitutional requirement. From the distribution of assembly seats amongst the provinces to NFC funds, the architects of our Constitution and federal structure considered the census a prerequisite for the judicious coexistence of the federating units. Nations with citizens’ computerised databases such as the US, UK, China, even India conduct regular decennial censuses.
Pakistan’s first census was conducted in 1951, followed by census in 1961, 1972 and 1981. But then autocratic mindsets and the desire to manipulate the facts emerged. The fifth census due in 1991 was not allowed till March 1998; the sixth scheduled for 2008 was delayed till 2011 but later scrapped after the house count.
Last year, the Council of Common Interests agreed to allow the sixth census in March 2016 but this time it was deferred due to the non availability of the personnel of armed forces as they were engaged in Zarb-e-Azb operation.

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