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Thursday, February 15, 2024

Farooq Sattar warns Census Commissioner over Sindh government’s political designs

Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Farooq Sattar has written a letter to the census chief commissioner, to express his concerns over the way houses are being counted in Karachi. In particular, he said this would favor the rural areas by showing they had more population versus the urban centers.

The census has not been conducted in Pakistan for close to 20 years. It was to have been conducted in 2008 but was not able to due to a number of factors, not least the terrorism that was rife in the country, that led to the army action in Swat in 2009. But, in addition to this concerns expressed by political parties has stopped the census from taking place – underlying motives of who were often related to them losing power in ‘their’ territories.

Sattar has accused the Sindh government of reducing the number of blocks in the urban areas.

Farooq Sattar stated that in the earlier attempted census held in 2011, which was never completed, each house/flat was given a separate number. Whereas in the current census, each building, is being given a single number and not taking account of multiple abodes inside it.

Read More: Census will allow smaller provinces in Pakistan to get their rightful share of resources..

In the 2011 numbering system, every block was created on the basis of having around 200 houses on an average. In the current practice, it will lead to showing fewer houses and ultimately fewer blocks’. The MQM-Pakistan chief asserted that in the rural parts of the province, each house, ‘whether it is a tent or a ship’, was allotted a different number but in the financial hub of the country – Karachi- the numbering system would be tantamount to a deliberate act of showing lower urban population.

Sattar said that if the authorities do not pay heed to the issue and their concerns, the census process and its results will not be accurate. “Each flat or portion in a building should be given different numbers so that proper house counts can take place,” he added.

On Monday he also filed a petition in Supreme Court’s (SC) Karachi Registry to constitute census blocks as per rise in population. The petition has asked the SC to declare current census blocks annul and to carry out a full head count under the supervision of the army.

The population census is extremely important since it directly affects political constituencies (national, provincial and local) and government financial allocations.

Sattar has accused the Sindh government of reducing the number of blocks in the urban areas. It is to be noted that the MQM political strength is in the urban centres and the PPP controls the Sindh government through its rural vote bank.

The United Nations Population Fund will also assign international observers to oversee the administration of the census.