ISLAMABAD: Responding to a calling attention notice moved by Naeema Kishwar Khan and others regarding postponement of census scheduled to be held in March 2016 and non-inclusion of column of disabled persons in the census form, Parliamentary Secretary for Finance Rana Muhammad Afzal Khan told the National Assembly that census was delayed due to unavailability of armed forces personnel with the consent of provinces, the Radio Pakistan reported.
Rana Afzal said the issue was discussed in detail in the meeting of Council of Common Interests last month.
He said the government has made all the arrangements to conduct the housing and population census but the exercise was postponed because of unavailability of security personnel. He pointed out that about two hundred and forty thousand personnel are required for this exercise.
The Parliamentary Secretary said the forms for the census have been designed according to the international best practices which also provide details about the disable persons.
He hoped that the census would be held soon.
The last census was carried out in 1998 when the population was counted at 132 million people.
It is since believed to have crossed the 200 million mark, an estimate based on figures from yearly growth statements issued by the country’s statistics bureau and survey work, making Pakistan the sixth most populous country in the world.
According to a statement issued Wednesday the census would cost 14.5 billion Pakistani rupees ($145 million) with the preliminary findings available in June 2016 and the final results issued in December 2017.
Pakistan was due to conduct a census in 2008 and 2010 but political unrest, conflict, and natural disasters contributed to delays.
The census is also a sensitive issue politically because it determines the amount of development budget allocated to each of the country’s provinces.
Some analysts believe that Pakistan’s less populated provinces, such as Balochistan, have experienced higher growth rates than Punjab which has traditionally dominated the country’s politics.
The census would also reveal changes in the country’s religious and ethnic makeup, for example in Karachi, a city which has seen a major influx of Pashtuns from the country’s insurgency-hit northwest in the past decade.
High growth rates are expected to place stresses on the country’s food and water security as well as raising employment concerns for an overwhelmingly young population.