ISLAMABAD: A Senate body was informed on Thursday that the law and order situation, particularly in Balochistan, is the main hurdle in conducting a population census, which has already been delayed by 14 years. The population and housing census is an important national activity which provides a comprehensive picture of the social and living conditions of the people in the country, said Pakistan Bureau of Statistics Chief Statistician Asif Bajwa while briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Inter-provincial Coordination at the Parliament House. IPC Secretary Muhammad Ijaz Chudhry said the matter of holding a population and housing census was discussed twice in the Council of Common Interests (CCI), but the provinces could not agree over it.In 2011, the secretary said, it was decided that the prime minister has to discuss this issue with chief ministers of the four provinces and find out a way to hold population census. He said whenever the ministry receives any information from the provinces about holding the population census, it will be shared with the committee. The committee was of the view that population census is very important for the distribution of resources, and noted that the constituencies of MNAs/MPAs are totally dependent over the figures gathered through this activity. The committee questioned how have the governments prepared annual budgets and made decisions over distribution of resources among provinces in the absence of a population census since the last 14 years. The committee members remarked that if the general elections can be held in all the disturbed districts of Balochistan then why cannot a population census be held. Chief Statistician Asif Bajwa told the committee that the Population Census Department is fully prepared to hold population and housing census. “We have already made blocks (having 200 to 250 houses in specific area) for urban areas and are going to rural areas.”
The department has also acquired the new technology of taking satellite images, and can identify every house, block and moaza number. He said the security situation is not only disturbed in Balochistan, but because of a full-fledged military operation in FATA, there are problems in Karachi too. For the population census, Bajwa said, the department need two hundred thousand army personnel for 15 days along with a large number of other staffers from provinces. He also claimed that holding a population census ever 10 years is not a constitutional obligation.
The census due in 2008 was not conducted due to the non-availability of required funds and paucity of staff in the year 2007-08, he said. The Pakistan Bureau of Statistics is ready to conduct the population and housing census in the country, however, a lead time of at least 10 months is required to make necessary arrangements and to coordinate with provinces to undertake this activity. This time frame is predicated on timely availability of financial resources.
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