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March 2, 2016

Census not put off indefinitely, says Qaim

Karachi

 
March 2, 2016

Karachi

The Sindh chief minister informed the provincial assembly on Tuesday that the next population census had not been put off indefinitely, but the matter would be decided in the meeting of the Council of Common Interests on March 25.

Speaking on the floor of the House, Qaim Ali Shah said he would try to persuade the prime minister and the chief ministers of other provinces in the next CCI meeting that the census drive should be held on a compulsory basis.

The chief minister had attended a CCI meeting in Islamabad a day earlier. He told the provincial lawmakers that he had represented the aspirations of the people of Sindh at the apex forum and informed the participants of the meeting that all political parties of the province wanted the census conducted immediately under army supervision.

He said the provincial government had recently organised an all-parties conference in Karachi wherein representatives of 32 political parties of the province were present.

“It was a successful conference as its resolution that the census should be held without delay and under army supervision was unanimously passed,” he added.

 The chief minister said Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had expressed their reservations over holding the census drive immediately. He added that the representatives of the two provinces had stated that the census should be held after the registration of the foreign refugees residing there was completed.

“I told them that Sindh was host to an even greater number of foreign refugees who were yet to be registered, but these kinds of problems would continue to remain and the census should not be delayed because of them.”

Shah said the prime minister had informed the participants of the CCI meeting that at least 300,000 military personnel were required to hold the census drive but because of the ongoing Operation Zarb-e-Azb, only between 80,000 and 100,000 troops could be spared for the exercise.

The chief minister said he had recommended at the meeting that similar to the local government polls,
the census drive could be held separately in every province.

“However, the majority of the participants of the CCI meeting were of the view that in accordance with international standards, the census should be held in the entire country at once and not separately in provinces.”

The prime minister told the participants of CII meeting that he would again talk with the army chief on the issue so that the required number of military personnel could be provided for conducting the census.

Earlier on a point of order, Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s Khawaja Izharul Hassan, the leader of the opposition in the assembly, said the chief minister had remarked on several occasions that the conducting the next census had become an issue of life and death for Sindh, but its postponement meant that the Shah had failed to advocate the cause of Sindh at the CCI meeting.

He said the conference in Karachi had resolved that the census should not be
postponed, but it appeared that the provincial government had succumbed to the pressure exerted by the Centre.

Also speaking on the issue, parliamentary affairs minister Nisar Ahmed Khuhro said the postponement of the census did not bode well for the entire country.

He added that the federal government had made the announcement about conducting the census drive a year ago and now its postponement meant that the Centre too had failed.

Speaker Agha Siraj Khan Durrani said the Sindh government could conduct a province-wise census on its own in order to assess the demographic statistics of the province.

He added that all political parties of the province should send out a clear message
 that they were united on the issue.