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Accuracy is of utmost importance in census, says urban planner

By Our Correspondent
June 04, 2023

The motive of a census is to hold an “accurate” population count, not just a population count, said urban planner Muhammad Toheed. He was addressing at a talk titled ‘Census’ at the Irtiqa Institute of Social Sciences on Saturday. Toheed explained that the census has four basic motives: the first one is to ascertain the quality of life of the people of the country, the second is distribution of resources, the third is of electoral representation and delimitation of electoral constituencies and the fourth motive is of distribution of electoral seats in the national and provincial assemblies.

He said that this order should be followed, but in the Pakistani census the foremost motive is of electoral representation; however, it should start from the quality of life of the people living in the country or the area where the census is taking place. In a bid to ensure accuracy in the census results, the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), which is mandated to hold the census under the General Statistics (Reorganization) Act 2011, has decided to carry out the population and house counts digitally for the first time.

This census will prove crucial in redrawing the country’s political map during the time the nation grapples with an unprecedented economic crisis.Speaking on the first-ever digital census, the urban planner said, the only advantage of the digital census is that the population count is out in the public on the day when the census ends. Earlier, he said, the final count would surface four to five months after the census would end.

Since all data is in the computer, he said, one cannot pinpoint errors in the enumeration process. However, when it was all done on paper, he said, it was easier to catch discrepancies and errors.There are two methods of census enumeration: de jure and de facto. In the de facto approach, persons are counted where they are found on the day of the census. This census is a one-day activity.

However, in the de jure method, which is being used in the current census, persons are counted at their usual place of residence, and it lasts about a month.In Karachi, he said, a huge quantity of people live here who have permanent residence in some other part of the country. As per the de jure method, he said, if a respondent says that he is living in the city for just 15 days but in reality he is in the city for four years, the enumerator would have to believe him and not count that person. The enumerator, he said, does not have the capacity to crosscheck.

According to census rules, such members of a household who are temporarily away but not for more than six months on a visit or for business etc. will also be enumerated at their usual place of residence; however, any previous household members who are living somewhere else would be counted at the place where they are presently living.