Spearhead Special Report – 20.03.2017
Carrying out the upcoming population census with diligence could have a significant impact on the future political and socio-economic landscape of Pakistan. Various Provincial concerns have been raised with regard to the census.
In Sindh an urban-rural divide seems to be at play. Some people in the urban areas demand that the formation of the census blocks should be according to population changes, even though the process identifying census blocks is independent of population. The rural claims are also similar in terms of a population swell. Some forces allege that rampant issuance of CNIC’s in rural areas, and encouraging residents of the province to register themselves as ‘Sindhi’s’ during the form filling process blocks a fair census – the rural areas are also concerned about the out-of-province influx and its impact on the census.
In Balochistan, several Baloch leaders have asked for the census to be put off till the Afghan refugees (especially those believed to be carrying CNICs’) and the matter of IDPs is dealt with because this can turn the Baloch into a minority. The local Pashtun population of Baluchistan on the other hand fears misunderstandings in ‘proving’ citizenship amidst the refugee influx.
In Punjab there is speculation that major migrations have occurred in the recent past especially from South Punjab, which has changed the population demographics. Some fear that a possible dent in the status quo may cause some forces to tamper with the enumeration.
In Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa there are grievances regarding the recent delay of KP-FATA merger and its impacts on enumeration of the Pashtun population. Some are of the view that this under-represents the total Pashtun population. Concerns have also been raised regarding the transfer of census data from KP to Islamabad.
In Gilgit-Baltistan and AJK regions the prime concerns appear to revolve around incomplete mention of various languages and religions in the census forms, thereby carrying the potential of hindering adequate representation of all people of the country.
According to Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) its first and foremost duty is to count all the people present in Pakistan’s territorial limits on dates of enumeration, regardless of any other factor. One ethnicity residing in another province will only be recorded under the ‘new province’ if a person has been residing there for more than six months. If not then, the person will be recorded under the native province. Apart from the issue of people migrating to other provinces for socio-economic reasons several citizens are believed to be displaced from local areas due to security concerns. Finding out these shifts would help paint a more accurate picture of which regions require immediate development and indicate which regions are strained with population influx. The end goal should be towards uniform national development and a more even population dissemination across Pakistan, which in the long run also creates a positive impact on our political system.