Islamabad, Pakistan will begin its first census in about two decades from Wednesday with the assistance of over 200,000 troops and civilian officials who will collect crucial data that will be used for key policy decisions, including delimitation of constituencies.
Army spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor and Minister of State for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb addressed a joint conference about preparation for the long-delayed sixth population census, which will be conducted in two phases and will be completed on May 25.
The national census will be conducted from Wednesday.
“The census would be conducted with the assistance of over 200,000 troops,” Ghafoor said.
He said at least one soldier will accompany each civilian enumerator going from house to house to enlist the number of households and individuals living there.
The soldiers will not only provide security but help in verification of data collected by the enumerators.
Aurangzeb said that administrative and security arrangements have been made for the population and housing census.
“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,” Aurangzeb said yesterday.
She said that the first phase will start from March 15 and conclude on April 15. After a ten-day gap the second phase will start from April 25 and conclude on May 25.
She said that Rs 18.5 billion had been allocated for the census.
The Minister of State said the holding of the census will help appropriate allocation of funds and other resources at right places.
Aurangzeb said that there will be imprisonment of six months and Rs 50,000 fine if wrong information is given.
Islamabad last conducted a census in 1998, which recorded a national population of approximately 180 million at that time.
The population data will be used for delimitation of the constituencies of the national and provincial assemblies, a requirement under the Constitution.
In Pakistan, the first four censuses in 1951, 1961, 1972 and 1981, were held on time by the Population Census Organisation, in collaboration with staff from the provincial governments.
The fifth census was due in 1991 and the House Listing Operation carried out in 1990 showed abnormal population growth in some parts of the country, which could not be justified by normal demographic indicators.
Consequently, the government decided to postpone the 1991 census. Another effort was made in 1994, which could not mature due to pressure by from political and ethnic groups.
It was decided that the 1998 census would be held with the support of the armed forces, which was broadly accepted by all political parties and appreciated internally.
The sixth Population and Housing Census was due in 2008, but could not materialise due to the law and order situation in the country, a paucity of staff and financial constraints.
The census is considered as a key for correct data to plan for the development of the country. It is expected to take place in March.