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ISLAMABAD: The Council of Common Interest (CCI) has approved the official release of the Census-2017 results, and decided to immediately start the process to conduct a fresh population census across the country and to hold the next general election in 2023 on the basis of the new census.

Minster for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar made this announcement while addressing a news conference, here on Monday.

He said there were only two options for the CCI under the law: accept or reject the result of Census-2017.

He said that there was not any option under the law to conduct the audit of any particular area or city of the new census. He said it had therefore become imperative to either reject or accept census results to hold local bodies' elections.

“Therefore, the CCI approved the result of Census-2017 and decided to start the process of fresh census across the country. To address the concerns of smaller provinces, especially, those of Sindh, the process of fresh census will be held this year, instead of waiting for 10 years,” he said.

He said all the seven members of the federal government, chief ministers of Punjab, Balochistan, and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa voted in favour of releasing the Census-2017 data, while Sindh chief minister opposed the move.

Umar said a framework for new census would be ready in the next six to seven months to ensure greater transparency and take all the stakeholders into confidence over the matter.

He said the census process was likely to be completed in 18 months and the next general elections would be held on the basis of the new population survey in Pakistan.

He said “questions being raised on 2017 census, which does not bode well for national unity,” adding that there should be a consensus on the issue of census, he added.

He said the event of rejection of statistics of the Census-2017, the government has to rely on the population data of 1998, which will ultimately affect the interests of the smaller provinces as population is a fundamental criterion in distribution of resources among the federating units.

The minister said that technology is used for census all over the world, adding that “we must utilise the best way possible to conduct a census.”

He said the CCI had also decided by a majority vote to release the census results, while the new survey would begin in September or October and it would be completed by March 2023.

Answering a question, the minister said that Pakistan has given approval to the import of 105 million coronavirus vaccine from China, 55 million from India, and 4.5 million from Russia.

He said that a total of 1.2 to 1.3 million people have been vaccinated so far.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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