PESHAWAR: The government has been urged not to put off the population census any further and carry it out as soon as possible.
The demand was made during an all-parties conference (APC) held at Qaumi Watan Party headquarters in Hayatabad on Saturday.
The conference was attended by Qaumi Watan Party chief Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, Chief Minister Pervez Khattak, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Assembly Speaker Asad Qaisar, Minister for Public Health Engineering Shah Farman and Minister for Local Government Inayatullah Khan, among others.
While speaking to media persons after the APC, Sherpao said, “Progress and development in the country is directly associated with the census.”
He added the federal government should announce a fresh census across the country.
“It is a lame excuse that it is impossible to conduct a fresh census without the army as it is busy in military operations,” he added.
The QWP chief said the government can ask other organisations to carry out the census.
“It could engage National Database and Registration Authority and local government representatives in this regard,” he said. “A fresh census is important if we want to bring our country on the track of progress and development.”
String of demands
Participants at the APC have pressed the federal government to fulfil four of its demands. It has demanded the government to fix a date for the census. Secondly, it has requested that an accurate and transparent mechanism to conduct the census. Thirdly, participants have urged government institutions instead of army troops to assist the process of conducting the census. The participants have also asked the government to ensure equal distribution of resources under the census.
On March 25, all provinces finally agreed to postpone the population census for an indefinite period after the military expressed its inability to spare adequate troops for the exercise.
The Council of Common Interests (CCI) — an inter-provincial, dispute-resolving body headed by the prime minister — met in Islamabad to discuss the possibility of census amid the challenges faced by the country. The option of having census in phases was also discussed.
However, at this stage, the government is reluctant to set a fresh deadline for the long overdue population census, lending credence to a widespread belief that the crucial national headcount has been put off for an indefinite time.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 17th, 2016.