Census
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The national census 2017 results have been made public and are expected to have significant short term implications.

The census reveals that Pakistan’s population has ballooned to 207.77 million from 132.3 million (1998). Province wise results of 2017 compared to 1998 are as follows:

Khyber Pakhtunkwa:        30,523,371 up from 17,743,645

Punjab:                          110,012,442 up from 73,621,290

Sindh                             47,886,051 up from 30,439,893

Balochistan:                   12,344,408 up from 6,565,885

FATA:                             5,001,676 up from 3,176,331

As per the provincial results, urban population has grown from 32.52 pc to 36.38 pc.

“It is being alleged by many that the PPP and PML-N have colluded together to suppress and alter critical information regarding the population distribution in key regions,”

Despite the enormous effort spent in conducting this census, the findings have accrued much suspicion. Analysts suggest that the results of the census have been tampered with in order to suppress information regarding urban growth, especially the growth of Karachi.

Read More: PPP will play the “elder brother, younger brother” game!

GVS spoke to the Chairman of National Democratic Foundation, Kanwar Dilshad who, as a former Secretary of the Election Commission of Pakistan is an expert on such issues.

“There are serious concerns regarding some aspects of the 2017 census,” He said.

“It is being alleged by many that the PPP and PML-N have colluded together to suppress and alter critical information regarding the population distribution in key regions,” Mr. Dilshad stated.

“This sort of practice dates back to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s era, similar concerns were raised during 1998 census,” he added.

Data on population distribution is of critical importance because the ECP may redistribute constituencies to areas of higher population in light on the census findings.

As of yet, political parties have not started to pursue this issue with reports suggesting that PTI, the natural advocate for scrutiny, is currently holding private consultative meetings to formulate its stance.

If Karachi and Hyderabad are allocated a greater share of the constituencies compared to interior Sindh, PPP’s stranglehold over the province would become vulnerable.

Sources have also revealed that informal meetings have taken place between senior leaders of PPP and PML-N to discuss the census. Some analysts have assumed that these meetings were held in order to coordinate specifics of the alterations in census findings which would suit interests of both the parties.

The population of Karachi is said to have been understated by approximately 10 million while some researchers have alleged the urbanization rate to be underestimated by a margin of 10 pc.

If Karachi and Hyderabad are allocated a greater share of the constituencies compared to interior Sindh, PPP’s stranglehold over the province would become vulnerable.

Karachi’s population has been reported as being 14.9 million, a figure that is widely being rejected. Estimates suggest that Karachi has crossed or is approximately close to 20 million rather than 15.

Figures from Lahore, on the other hand, seem to be exaggerated (11 million up from 5 million). Being PML-N’s stronghold, pundits are of the opinion that the population of Lahore has been overstated significantly so that it may be favored with more constituencies.

Read More: PML-N’s ‘interesting’ rule: Have the 2018 elections already been lost?

It remains to be seen how the distribution of constituencies is affected by the 2017 census. It is being speculated that the issue of the census may gather momentum as the elections draw closer.

Another interesting point to note is that the army is said to have kept separate records in parallel to the government’s census operations. It may so happen that the army decides to release its own findings which may contradict that of the government.

So far, we have not addressed the behemoth problem of overpopulation. There is sadly very little to discuss, the issue is very straight forward: the population is growing at an immense pace which is not matched by our economic growth. The ramifications of this ignored crisis are innumerable and sobering material to ponder upon.

But in a society where discussion and awareness campaigns on contraceptives and family planning are considered the pinnacle of vulgarity, anyone wishing to address this behemoth of an issue is faced with an uphill task.

1 COMMENT

  1. Abdul Qayyum Kundi’s suggestions;t to sort out any disagreements or discrepancies:

    “1. All political parties should nominate one technical expert of their choice to form a review committee to look at the detailed data of the census.

    2. Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) should form a committee to work with the committee of the political parties to answer all their questions and concerns. Once all issues are taken care of the members of the political party committee should sign off on it.

    3. Statists Departments in major Pakistani universities should be given access to census data so that they can conduct their own research and write technical papers to help improve deficiencies as well as develop solutions for our social issues”
    .

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