PPP files petition against census, demand transparency

PPP files petition against census, demand transparency


KARACHI: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) on Monday filed a petition against the ongoing population census in Sindh High Court (SHC).

The petition describes the secrecy in population census as unconstitutional.

While speaking with the media, PPP’s Farhatullah Babar said that Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) have also expressed their concerns pertaining to headcount.

He said that every segment of society is expressing concern. PPP wants transparency in process of population census. Important information should be uploaded on a website whereas a mechanism should be crafted to address complaints.

First national census in 19 years kicked off last week amid tight security from around 200,000 military personnel. A 70-day data gathering operation, starting in 63 districts and protected by police and soldiers, is being carried out by 118,000 officials.

The previous census was completed in 1998 and the long delay in updating it is down to a lack of funds, political disputes and insufficient troops to keep everybody involved safe.

But in December the Chief Justice of Pakistan set a deadline of March or April, saying that a census was essential for improving democracy. Seats in the parliament are allocated according to population density and without a census, the number of seats cannot be decided.

Rural populations in the world’s sixth-largest country frequently change as people try to escape poverty and ethnic or sectarian violence by moving to towns and cities.

The security staff is protecting census teams and ensure households can enter data without being intimidated by powerful feudal landlords and political families who fear losing influence.

Other communities have criticised the decision to include only nine of the estimated 70 languages used in Pakistan.

Households will also be asked how many toilets they have, as the United Nations estimates up to 40% of Pakistanis defecate in the open air with dramatic health consequences, especially for children.

In a sign of how much has changed since the previous census, Karachi’s population was put at 9.2 million in 1998, but current estimates now vary between 18 and 23 million, according to the National Database and Registration Authority.