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Sixth population census begins in Pakistan after 19 years

KARACHI: Sixth Population Census begins in 63 districts of Pakistan on Wednesday after a gap of 19 years under the security of military troops, ARY News reported.

The census will begin with house count in 63 districts of the country including eight districts of Sindh including Karachi, 16 districts of Punjab, 14 districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa including Peshawar and 15 districts of Balochistan.

Moreover, the population will also begin in five districts of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan and Orakzai tribal region.

The population count, usually conducted in Pakistan after every decade, this time being started in the country after 19 years period.

According to the law, the people who will provide wrong information to the enumerators will face six-month jail term and Rs. 50,000 fine over the breach of the census rules.

Special forms have been printed for the first phase of the census that will continue from March 15 to April 15.

To ensure authenticity and avoid fake data a bar-code has been added to the form. The photo-copied forms will not be counted as only machine-readable forms will be deemed authentic.

Each enumerator will be given the map of his or her area for the census. The houses having more than one family will be counted on the basis of separate kitchens.

According to the government sources, national identity cards are not compulsory for being counted in the population count. The people not having the national identity card would also be registered for the census.

Preliminary figures of the population census will be released within 60 days of the practice, officials said.

The census body has set up complaint cells to cater the complaints over the process.

AFP reports: 

The weeks-long process will deploy a team of more than 300,000 people and involve 55 million forms — as well as a second, separate form distributed by the military.

“It’s a very hectic process, but we are ready for it,” Nadeem Ehsan, a teacher clad in a green Pakistan Census 2017 jacket in the northwestern city of Peshawar, told AFP.

“We had some reservations about security initially but we were assured about it by the government,” he added, describing the process as a “noble cause”.

Fast-growing Pakistan is the sixth most populous country in the world, with an estimated 200 million people, but has not held a census since 1998 due to years of bickering between politicians.

The count could redraw the political map as the country gears up for a national election next year — a prospect that has raised fears over power bases and federal funding.

It will help give a clearer picture about religious minority numbers in the Muslim-majority country.

The count is also set to document the transgender population for the first time, though activists expressed concern about accuracy Wednesday.

The census form from the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) does not list transgender people, seen as a third sex in Pakistan, as an option; but enumerators have been told to write it on the form where needed.

Military ‘observers’

The census will be the basis for revising political boundaries, parliamentary seat allocations and finances ahead of national elections, due to be held by the end of 2018.

The PBS will deploy some 119,000 people, including 84,000 enumerators, mainly teachers and local officials who will go door-to-door to count homes and then individuals.

Army says it will dispatch up to 200,000 troops for the exercise, including 44,000 participating directly in the census-taking and making a parallel count using a second form.

Organisers in Peshawar said each team led by one enumerator would be accompanied by three soldiers and four police.

Asif Bajwa, the PBS’s chief statistician, said the army would act as ‘observers’ to ensure enumerators did not inflate local counting.

The first census phase will take place from March 15 to April 15, the second from April 25 to May 25, and final results are expected by the end of July.



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