Thursday, March 16, 2017

Pakistan Begins its Long Overdue Census

Census is done to find out the true population of Pakistan including all provinces - not for the benefit of the politicians but for other national & local requirements.
First census in Pakistan was conducted in 1951, the second in 1961 while the third census was held in 1972. The fourth census was held in March 1981 and fifth one was held in March, 1998. Currently, the sixth census is already underway with a time frame (between March 15-May 25 2017).
For the first time in the history of Pakistan, transgender community has been included in the national population census under instruction of Lahore High Court (LHC).
The government is also planning on counting the number of people who suffer from disabilities, and even important metrics like the number of toilets in a household.
The census form has been so designed as to collect more information on important matters like infant mortality and the prevalence of disease but researchers from both the government and academia can at least use the census as a baseline to carry out further research. This census is going to be used for at least the next 10 years for every public policy decision.
Unfortunately, the politicians are habitual of complicating things to make them controversial for political scoring. Be it KB dam or CPEC, they tend to play games by using ethnic cards and regional slogans to carry out their dirty political agendas.
Bad example: In the last 1998 census, the rural Sindhi population was highly inflated causing Karachi's population to be lower percentage of the total Sind population. Fear is the ruling elite (the vested interests) in Sindh and Baluchistan will again attempt to inflate the population of Sindhis and Balochis and undercount the Pakhtuns and the Urdu speakers.
Furthermore, the census will provide an insight into the true number of religious minorities, especially Christians and Hindus. Estimates are approximate and disputed, ranging from 2 to 10 million for the former and 2.5 to 4.5 million for the latter.
Nationality option: The census gives two nationality options: Pakistani or foreign.
Language option: Only nine languages among the country’s regional languages have been included in the form.
Expats excluded: Sadly, the estimated six million Pakistanis working abroad will not be counted.
Price tag: The census will cost nearly Rs20 billion and require the use of over 300,000 civilian staff and military personnel.
Other issues: Now that the census forms have been released, there are some worries about the information the government intends to collect. Afghan refugees will be counted separately and, given the current climate of hostility towards them, they are fearful that giving this information to the government may lead to their being rounded up leading to their deportation. ......
Additionally, all those who are unable to prove their citizenship status will be counted as aliens, which could disenfranchise the millions of Pakistanis who do not have a CNIC. However, old shanaakhti cards, old passport or any official ID will be accepted. (As per the finance minister on TV)
Problem in the past: In previous census exercises in the country, this had been a particularly strong sticking point since both Sindh and Punjab have difficulty in acknowledging the number of migrants settled in their respective areas of jurisdiction.
This time it is crucial that the census reflect a realistic picture of how the demographic balance has changed in each province since the last count was held in 1998.
The data gathered by the enumerators will be used for a wide variety of purposes that go far beyond seat shares in parliament and the NFC award. This is our chance to get a clearer picture of the demographic balance, as well as of urbanisation trends in the country. The data can be used by law enforcement as well as local governments — for example when deciding shares in district finance commission awards.
For so many reasons that have little to do with politics, the quality of the data must stand above reproach and suspicion, and with the start of the exercise, the burden of ensuring that rests more than ever on the shoulders of those tasked with overseeing the operation.
Transparency is the biggest support they will have in ensuring a credible outcome. In the past, suspicions have been raised as a result of the quality of analyses done on the census information, so it would be an idea for the authorities to release the data quickly and make it accessible to multiple research communities simultaneously.
An important aspect of the census process is to evaluate the quality of the data.[8]
·         As per the United Nations estimate, the current population of Pakistan is 195,546,912, which is equivalent to 2.62% of the total world population.
·         Pakistan ranks number 6 in the list of countries (and dependencies) by population. The population density in Pakistan is 255 per Km2 (661 people per mi2).
·         The total land area is 770,998 Km2 (297,684 sq. miles)
·         39.2 % of the population is urban (77,107,125 people in 2017)
·         The median age in Pakistan is 22.7 years. (
One must understand there is no authenticity without credible data. The real key is raising awareness among people of its urgent need and their responsibility to cooperate. The authorities must do everything to ensure that the results are credible and not marred by allegations of being manipulated.

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