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KARACHI: Referring to news items in the media about proceedings of the 3rd progress meeting on the 7th Population and Housing Census 2022, the digital census, Senator Taj Haider, Member Core Committee of the Pakistan Peoples’ Party, has pointed out that the key issue of methodology of the count had been conveniently by-passed by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics.

According to a statement on Sunday, Haider said that Census 2017 had become most controversial because population had been counted on de-jure basis through which persons migrating from their original provinces to another province had been counted in the population of their original provinces where they had migrated from and not in the province where they were residing at the time of census. As a result Sindh as well as many other areas in the country had been undercounted in the controversial census 2017.

The 24th Amendment to the Constitution which permitted elections 2018 to be held on provisional figures of Census 2017 was blocked in the Senate of Pakistan till an agreement for correcting the controversial figures was signed between all political parties of the Senate.

The agreement envisaged a supervisory census commission of expert demographers with a single member from each province and the Federation and a de-facto counting methodology which counted “all members of a household present in a house on that day” for a post enumeration survey in 5% randomly selected population blocks.

Signatories to this agreement included Senator Azam Swati who was the Senate Parliamentary leader of PTI at that time. This agreement which has been quoted in many summaries for the CCI and the relevant correspondence on its implementation is present in the record of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics. Formation of a representative census commission and de-facto counting methodology as agreed between all political parties in the said agreement remains crucial for the transparency and acceptability of the planned census 2022.

Adherence to the constitutional requirement of Article 154 of keeping provinces fully on board in ‘supervision and control over related institutions’ is highly important for overcoming existing trust deficit between the Federation and provinces.

The use of digital templates makes it extremely convenient to transmit online, data of every household right at the time of its being entered, to provincial statistical bureaus or to any other provincial department which any provincial government may nominate for keeping simultaneous record and for verifying the correctness of the count by using established statistical methodology.

Senator Taj Haider hoped that for once efforts shall be made to create consensus according to the constitutional requirements on issues of national importance.

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