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Sunday June 16, 2024

Call to build public trust in census process

By Our Correspondent
March 21, 2023

LAHORE: Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) has urged Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) to build confidence of people in the on-going population census by addressing hurdles.

CSJ Chairman Wajahat Masood and Executive Director Peter Jacob stated in a joint statement that the vulnerable groups including persons with disabilities and transgender, ethnic and religious minorities were included in the census questionnaire but have been visibly ignored by the enumerators, while the families noticed skipping of the questions. “This kind of attitude raises questions on the quality of training of the enumerators and data collection,” they asserted. Although the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act 2018 recognised and the registration law allows their registration as transgender, nevertheless, due to a fear of violence from some elements, transgender are not readily taking part in the population count. Moreover, the people of Azad Jammu and Kashmir have also raised concerns over census proceedings. They want to mention their Kashmiri nationality and language in the census questionnaire and these grievances must be addressed at the earliest, they said. The statement observed that a vast majority of the population appears to be unaware of the census process hence the enumerators are facing difficulties. Referring to media reports, the statement underlined the manifestation of lack of preparation, training of field enumerators and insufficient staff. The observation by Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) of the census process shows that the enumerators were also facing issues in finding locations on tablets for houses to be geo-tagged. It has also been noticed that the Unique Token Number given after self-registration is not recognised by the system. Mainstream and print media needs to act as a bridge between institutions and the public, they added.

The statement also appreciated the positive developments such as the provision of a helpline to resolve complaints related to the census, taking notice of the distribution of paper census forms, and releasing of funds to resolve the transportation issues faced by enumerators. However, due to a lack of information and trust, the public response to the census teams is not encouraging.