After a hiatus of 19 years, Pakistan has started its 6th ever population census, along with the assistance of about 20,000 troops.
The census will be carried out in two phases, first one starting from March 15 to April 15. This will be followed by a ten-day gap and the second phase will start soon after from April 25 to May 25.
“The number of the civilian staff taking part in the census is 118,918. They are all government servants from various departments and thoroughly trained for the job,” said the Minister of State for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb while addressing a joint press conference along with Major General Asif Gafoor, as reported by Indian Express.
Moreover, one soldier will be accompanying a civil enumerator, door to door. The role of the soldier is just not limited to providing security to the enumerator. The soldier will also help in verifying the collected data.
Aurangzeb also said that those giving wrong information will be imprisoned for at least 6 months along with a fine of Rs. 50,000.
“Political leaders across the country have voiced concerns about the census, fearing a loss of influence from any changes in provincial demographics,” reported The Wire.
The World Bank in 2015, estimated that Pakistan’s population was about 188.9 million, but still, the government was using the 134.7 million figure from the 1998 census.
The idea of census received mixed response from the nationalist parties in Pakistan provinces. While Baloch nationalist parties strongly opposed the census, the Pashtun nationalist parties gave a unanimous support to the same.
According to an article published in The Diplomat-
“Since the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, around 3 million Afghan refugees have been living in Balochistan. A major portion of that community holds Pakistani National Identity cards.”
Hence, this can be one of the reasons behind the reluctance of Baloch nationalist leaders, given that Balochistan is one of the most marginalized provinces.
The census is said to give the exact Muslim population in the country and will include transgenders, for the first time.
Title Image: Urdu Mania