In a first, govt to undertake digital census in Pakistan

Ahsan Iqbal links distribution of NFC award, political representation to accurate population data
Dec 06, 2022
<p>Photo: Twitter/ Ahsan Iqbal</p>

Photo: Twitter/ Ahsan Iqbal

For the first time in the history of the country, the government will be conducting a ‘digital’ census to minimize errors and ensure the most accurate record of the country’s population.

This was stated by Federal Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal on Tuesday at the inaugural ceremony for training master trainers for the upcoming population census.

Addressing the event, Iqbal said that it was former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan and his predecessor Asad Umar who had proposed to the Council of Common Interests – a key interprovincial decision-making body – to hold the next general elections it was imperative to have fresh census.

He added that Sindh had severe reservations over the results of the last census.

This would mean that fresh elections can only be held in October after the fresh census are completed in April or May and then another four months will be required by the Election Commission of Pakistan to hold fresh delimitations based on the new data. Besides, he added that Sindh and Balochistan will take another six to eight months to recover from the floods enough to go to polls.

“The opposition needs to take a ‘positive’ u-turn and return to assemblies,” he suggested, advising the PTI to abandon plans of dissolving assemblies.

He added that to ensure good governance, the government needs to have accurate data about the population and its distribution.

“If we do not have accurate data, we cannot progress,” he said as he linked the allocation and release of the National Finance Commission (NFC) Award and delimitations to accurate census.

For this purpose, he said that for the first time in the country, they will be holding a digital census to ensure accuracy.

This activity will cost the government around Rs34 billion.

He said that in the last census, the rate of population growth was slated at 2.4%. Expressing concern over this rate, he said that Pakista’s rate of population increase far outstripped its resources.

“If the trajectory of our growth remained the same, then by 250, Pakistan’s population will increase to 340 million,” he said.

Addressing concerns of interfering in public’s religious beliefs, he said that controlling the population does not put the faith in jeopardy.

Iqbal rejected the idea that the economy had suffered because of anything the coalition government of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) had done.

“When we took over in April, we were told that there was no money for development projects,” he stated, adding that if anyone thinks that the economy would sink in six to seven months, then they are mistaken.

He added that the country suffered massive losses as a result of the floods while the global economy is already in a spiral with an energy and cost of living crisis sweeping even insulated and rich states.

“Europe and Pakistan both are facing a gas crisis,” he said.

Imran’s ideas flopped

Iqbal took aim at former prime minister Imran Khan and his administration and recent political threats.

The planning minister said that if the 2018 elections were held in a free, fair and transparent manner, the PTI would not have won in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, let alone secure a vast majority.

He lamented how their government was hauled up by the top court for even transferring a single officer, while Imran and his governments were extended undue support and no appointment was called into question even though the entire province was allegedly ‘put up for sale’.


ahsan IQBAL

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