Army refuses to perform census duty

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ISLAMABAD: The Statistics Division has informed the Supreme Court that the armed forces are currently not available for deployment with the census staff to make the census process transparent and credible. The Statistics Division stated that it could not give a schedule for a fresh census due to unavailability of army personnel for this purpose. In January this year, the census commissioner told the media that more than 350,000 troops were required for the census exercise. He said that one soldier was required for each of the 167,000 census blocks, while more security personnel were needed to maintain law and order during the census process. The Statistics Division on Thursday submitted a concise statement to the top court after Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali took suo motu notice of the delay in census. The chief justice ordered the court staff to issue notices to the attorney general for Pakistan and the secretary of the Statistics Division and summon them to the court to explain reasons for postponement of census in the country. The court will take up the suo motu case on Friday (today). The court had taken suo motu notice of the delay in census on media reports, which said the government was not initiating the census process due to logistic issues as well as a lack of political will.

 

“Due to their deployment in Zarb-i-Azb and other security-related tasks, the required number of personnel cannot be made available for the census operation,” said a report submitted to the Supreme Court by Additional Attorney General Mohammad Waqar Rana, on behalf of the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).

n Pakistan, the first four censuses i.e., 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, the report said, adding that the House Listing Operation carried out in 1990 showed abnormal population growth in some parts of the country, which not be justified by normal demographic indicators.

Consequently, the government decided to postpone the 1991 census, it said, adding that another effort was made in 1994, which could not mature due to pressure by from political and ethnic groups. Finally, 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 report said.

 

 

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