Population census and political elite

Written by The Frontier Post

The Council of Common Interests (CCI) during its 49th meeting has approved the conduct of 7th Population and Housing Census as well as the establishment of Census Monitoring Committee to oversee the census operation. The committee will be headed by the Deputy Chairman Planning Commission while all Provincial Chief Secretaries, Chairman National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), Chief Commissioner Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) will supervise their respective arenas.

Population and Housing Census is an important survey for the just and correct distribution of federal finances, planning and initiation of development projects, demarcation of electoral constituencies, provision of services, deployment of workforce and material resources for management and administration of the cities. The last census was carried out in 2017, which became controversial after the announcement of provisional results by the authorities in Sindh particularly in Karachi. The two major parties of the province, PPP and MQM-P expressed serious reservations regarding the results of the population census. According to both parties, the residents of the mega city had been shown less as compared to the other cities of the country. While MQM-P was of the view that the population of Muhajir community in Karachi and Hyderabad was stated to be fewer by the government for the purpose of turning MQM popular vote bank in urban Sindh into a minority during the coming election. MQM leadership claimed that the census results will change the matrix of future Provincial and National elections in the province. A parliamentary committee was formed to satisfy the demands of PPP and MQM-P, which asked for a 5 % survey to ascertain the facts and all parties agreed that results of 2017 census would be used only for general election 2018 and by elections thereafter. However, a 5 % survey could not be carried out and later the federal cabinet approved the census results. The Sindh government had raised objections on the matter in the Council of Common Interests and asked for the arrangement of a transparent and credible population census in the country.

In fact, population census is an administrative issue which has been politicized by the political parties for the sake of their political interests. The demography of the country is changing rapidly because of massive urbanization during the last decades. The population had shifted from rural and hilly areas to Cities and thus brought a significant shift in the demographic statistics of the country but Political elite was not ready to accept any change in its vote bank and thus leveled baseless allegations on the government institutions. The fashion of objecting census results are not a new phenomenon and nationalist parties of Sindh had accused the census workers of overstating the numbers of households in Karachi during the census in 2011. Therefore, the government must use all available resources to conduct a transparent and credible census, while the political elite must look ahead of its nose, accept new realities and abandon the way of blaming others for nothing.

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The Frontier Post