Security high as first census in 19 years launched

By AFP
Published: March 15, 2017
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Pakistani soldiers walk with an official (L) from the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics as they arrive in a residential area to collect information for a census in Lahore on March 15, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

Pakistani soldiers walk with an official (L) from the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics as they arrive in a residential area to collect information for a census in Lahore on March 15, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

Pakistani soldiers walk with an official (L) from the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics as they arrive in a residential area to collect information for a census in Lahore on March 15, 2017. PHOTO: AFP An official from the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (L) marks a house after collecting information from a resident during a census as army slodier stands guard in Lahore on March 15, 2017. PHOTO: AFP An official from the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics collects information from a resident during a census, as an army soldier stands guard, in Lahore on March 15, 2017. PHOTO: AFP Army personnel check documents of field staff after they receive census material from assistant commissioner office in Hyderabad. PHOTO: INP

PESHAWAR: Pakistan on Wednesday launched its first census in nearly two decades, with security high as thousands of enumerators backed by the military began the enormous, politically-charged count.

The weeks-long process, a challenge in a country known for corruption and dysfunction, will deploy a team of more than 300,000 people and involve 55 million forms – as well as a second, separate form distributed by the military.

“It’s a very hectic process, but we are ready for it,” Nadeem Ehsan, a teacher clad in a yellow Pakistan Census 2017 jacket in the northwestern city of Peshawar, told AFP.

“We had some reservations about security initially but we were assured about it by the government,” he added, describing the process as a “noble cause”.

Army gets judicial powers for census

Fast-growing Pakistan is the sixth most populous country in the world, with an estimated 200 million people, but has not held a census since 1998 due to years of bickering between politicians.

The count will be the basis for revising political boundaries, parliamentary seat allocations and finances as the country gears up for a national election next year – a prospect that has raised fears over power bases and federal funding.

An official from the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (L) marks a house after collecting information from a resident during a census as army slodier stands guard in Lahore on March 15, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

An official from the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (L) marks a house after collecting information from a resident during a census as army slodier stands guard in Lahore on March 15, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

Powerful Punjab, for example, could see its political grip weaken as a result of its population not rising at a similar rate to other provinces.

And ethnic Baloch fear they will become a minority in their own province, sparsely-populated Balochistan, due to an influx of Pashtuns – including refugees from Afghanistan whose nationality is difficult to determine due to falsified documents.

The count will also give a clearer picture about religious minority numbers in the Muslim-majority country as well as numbering the transsexual population for the first time.

DESIGN: NABEEL AHMED

5 things you need to know about Pakistan’s first census in 19 years

The Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) will deploy some 119,000 people, including 84,000 enumerators: teachers and local officials who will go door-to-door to count homes and then individuals.

The army says it will dispatch up to 200,000 troops for the exercise, including 44,000 participating directly in the census-taking and making a parallel count using a second form.

An official from the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics collects information from a resident during a census, as an army soldier stands guard, in Lahore on March 15, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

An official from the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics collects information from a resident during a census, as an army soldier stands guard, in Lahore on March 15, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

Asif Bajwa, the PBS’s chief statistician, said the army would act as ‘observers’ to ensure enumerators did not inflate local counting.

But that has created some disquiet for the UN, who are concerned about the army’s role as parallel data collectors.

30,000 military and police personnel for Karachi

The first census phase will take place from March 15 to April 15, the second from April 25 to May 25, and final results are expected by the end of July.

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Reader Comments (8)

  • kemosabe
    Mar 15, 2017 - 10:36AM

    Who gets the honor of being counted first: PM, Prez, COAS, or IK ?Recommend

  • Ahmad
    Mar 15, 2017 - 10:52AM

    For Every Single Thing We Call army,
    Match, Call Army.
    Census, Call Army.
    Flood, Call Army, Earth Quake Call army, What is Civil Govt Doing Anyway? Recommend

  • Awan
    Mar 15, 2017 - 12:35PM

    @Ahmad:
    Because they get the 40 percent of the total budget of Pakistan for performing security duties. It is their duty to protect. If Army will be consuming less than 10 percent budget of Pakistan then the situation will be different. Our Police do not get even 20 percent of what our Army is enjoying.

    They are not doing any favors to us. Their officers and families are enjoying the luxury lives in Cantt regions. Atleast for security purposes the government has every right to call them. Recommend

  • PakPower
    Mar 15, 2017 - 1:29PM

    @Ahmad:
    Because army is the only credible institution in the country that has the capacity to get things done with the minimum of fuss. It will take another century for the civilian government to evolve to their level.Recommend

  • Lolz
    Mar 15, 2017 - 1:43PM

    @Ahmad: Sir movies and patriotic songs are also being produced by army. Recommend

  • Lolz
    Mar 15, 2017 - 1:47PM

    Why can’t police be strengthened for these tasks. Every single citizen openly blames police for their shortcomings that make them the most public-friendly institution. Although allegedly corrupt, but atleast they live with civilians around and not in confined housing societies. Recommend

  • kemosabe
    Mar 15, 2017 - 2:02PM

    @Ahmad: Civil govt there is to ‘promote’ democracy and in doing so rob the country blind. So everyone’s got their niche.Recommend

  • ®pot_belly dancer ω
    Mar 15, 2017 - 2:23PM

    All the Best PakistanRecommend

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