Population survey: PM gives green light for sixth census

Published: December 15, 2013
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. PHOTO: AFP /FILE

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. PHOTO: AFP /FILE


It took the administration a decade and a half to call a fresh headcount in the country. On Saturday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif endorsed the sixth census plan after wading through two summaries one by the Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC) Division and the other by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

In the end, the prime minister, according to an official at the PM secretariat, “approved the Inter-Provincial Coordination Division’s summary for a census in the country.” Another summary by the ECP on the same subject was clubbed with the IPC’s version, the official said.

Between 1951 and 1981, four national population counts were conducted in the country at fairly regular intervals. The 1971 census was delayed by a year on account of the war and subsequent loss of East Pakistan. The next population count came nine years later in 1981.

But the fifth census was conducted after a staggering gap of 17 years. The exercise – considered crucial for the judicious distribution of resources, representation in parliament, tax collection and electoral processes, among other civic issues – was held in 1998 during Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) government.

According to the constitution, it is obligatory to conduct a census every four years, so that the general elections – to be held every five years – can be held with more accurate population statistics, the ECP Public Relations Director Altaf Ahmad told BBC Urdu.

In its summary to the PM, the ECP had stated that population census is essential for carrying out the delimitation of constituencies for the national and the provincial assemblies before the next general elections, which is the responsibility of the Election Commission under Article 222(b) of the Constitution and Section(3) of the Delimitation of Constituencies Act, 1974. The poll body had clarified that the request is for the next general elections and had nothing to do with the local government elections around the corner.

The population has increased, according to reports, at a rate of 2.3% annually but the country is oblivious to the exact number of its citizens. This was why former chief election commissioner Justice (retd) Fakharuddin G Ebrahim had called for a fresh census in the beginning of this year for the accurate delimitation of constituencies before the May general elections. The Muttahida Qaumi Movement, too, opposed delimitation in Karachi without conducting a census first.

As authorities missed the deadline, Yasmeen Rehman, a former member of the National Assembly from the PPP, moved a bill to make it binding for the government to hold population censuses in Pakistan every 10 years. The bill was passed unanimously in January this year by the outgoing assembly.

CCI meeting

After PM Nawaz’s approval, the matter will now be discussed during the CCI meeting, which has not met in the last 136 days. The body is required to meet after 90 days under Article 154.

According to Article 153 of the Constitution, the CCI is headed by the prime minister and includes provincial chief ministers and three members nominated by the premier.

The government has not yet announced the date of the next CCI meeting.

“I agree that the meeting of the CCI should have been convened within 90 days, but there is no pressing issue that [needs to be] be discussed urgently,” Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid told The Express Tribune.

Meanwhile, PPP stalwart Senator Mian Raza Rabbani said it was mandatory for the government to convene the CCI meeting. “The government is violating Article 154 by its deliberate delay.”

Published in The Express Tribune, December 15th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (6)

  • Anonymous
    Dec 15, 2013 - 11:38AM

    Respected, P.M. we should cut extra expenditures in case of hyper inflation. Do you think this census not affect country budget, which has already contracted for public. Recommend

  • Ali
    Dec 15, 2013 - 4:09PM

    Very good move. The results will be interesting. Not only how many people we have, but where in the country they now reside and where they have come from. IDP figures will be much higher than we think.


  • Farrukh Ishfaq
    Dec 15, 2013 - 9:57PM

    i think that’s a joke . first clarify the status of PBS who is going to conduct census. it was going to be autonomous body as Chief Statistician with 5 members are burden on Government with 2.5 million rupee per month in their salaries account. and if it is autonomous body, then it is not part of federal government then how it is going to conduct census? As census is totally Federal matter. if you let provinces to do census then who will believe the result?
    The Census Ordinance, 1959 clearly stats that (which is i think repealed in 2011 )

    (2) The [Federal] Government may, by order, delegate the powers conferred upon it by clause (iii) of sub-section (1) to such officer or authority as may be specified in the order.

    (3) A declaration in writing signed by any authority authorized in this behalf by the [Federal] government that any person has been duly appointed a Census Officer shall be conclusive proof of such appointment.

    Government is just messing with all ordinances.Don’t worry result will be whatever each province want to show. it will cross 21 million


  • Insanitie
    Dec 15, 2013 - 11:21PM

    Just what we need; a census, of course this is more important than Terrorism, Failed Justice, Inflation, Poverty, Education, Health and Drones.


  • Naresh
    Dec 16, 2013 - 4:24AM

    Well done Pakistan. A Census in 2011 and now another one in 2014. Bravo.
    Population shoots up by 47 percent since 1998
    As compared to the population of 130,857,717 in 1998, the overall population was recorded at 192,288,944 in 2011 all over Pakistan, excluding three districts of Balochistan (Khuzdar, Kech and Panjgur) Agency of Fata (South Waziristan) as well as Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJ&K) and Gilgit-Baltistan.
    However, with the inclusion of population of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan, the population of the country would reach 197,361,691 in 2011 against 134,714,017 in 1998, showing an increase of 46.5 percent.


  • Pirbhu Satyani
    Feb 3, 2014 - 3:15AM

    Good move from the PM Nawaz. Census is very important in the planning and future strategy of country. Which department is going to take lead role to conduct this census. Is any progress after approval from PM and when exactly its going to be held?


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