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February 25, 2021

High-powered panel set up for error free census

National

February 25, 2021

ISLAMABAD: In the wake of lingering controversies over the last population census held in 2017 and for making the next exercise error free, the government has constituted a high-powered committee with the mandate to recommend measures for holding the upcoming census exercise through adoption of latest technologies and supervising/monitoring to minimise omissions/errors.

The government constituted this committee comprising 12 members with Deputy Chairman Planning Commission Dr Mohammad Jehanzeb Khan in the chair for deliberating upon five terms of references (TORs) for conducting the next population census. The period of upcoming census might be reduced from envisaged timeline of 10 years but it is just a suggestion at the moment. The government has given the mandate through TORs to the newly-constituted high-powered committee for holding the next population census in free and fair manner including

(i) to review the census process, data collection and field operation methodologies used for Census 2017 and recommend the modern methodologies being adopted for census in region and the globe for conduct of upcoming census

(ii) To compare the regional/globally adopted census questionnaire and proposals for improvement

iii) To review mode of data collection (manual/electronic) for provision of timely and credible result and recommendation for adoption of innovative tools and technologies for geo referred enumeration up to the household level for upcoming census

(iv) To review the best practices of field operation including monitoring/supervision and data processing to minimize the omission/errors and complete coverage

(v) To devise strategy for confidence building measures of all stakeholders for smooth completion of census operation and for increasing reliability and credibility of census results.

According to official press statement issued here on Wednesday, the Ministry of Planning, Development & Special Initiatives has included prominent demographers, researchers and experts in the committee constituted by the government for making recommendations based on international best practices for the next population census. The committee will be headed by the Deputy Chairman Planning Commission Dr. Mohammad Jehanzeb Khan.

It may be recalled that the results of the National Census 2017 have not yet been published as they await approval of the Council of Common Interests (CCI). The federal cabinet constituted a committee to look into the issues and complaints, which had caused a delay in the approval and issuance of census results. The cabinet committee after detailed deliberations recommended that the results of census conducted in 2017 may be approved for publishing and at the same time the process and methodology for collection of data may be reviewed to make sure that these are according to the international best practices in the future. The committee also recommended that the next census may be conducted at an early date without waiting for the 10-year gap.

The federal cabinet has endorsed the recommendations of the committee.

These recommendations will be presented to the Council of Common Interests (CCI) for final approval. In the meanwhile, the government has constituted a committee for deliberating on the census process, data collection and field operation methodologies used around the world for census. Apart from official representative, the committee also draws upon independent experts, including Dr G.M Arif, who is an ex-Joint Director of PIDE, Dr Zeba A. Sathar, Country Director Population Council, Prof Dr Muhammad Nizamuddin, a renowned demographer and ex-chairperson of Punjab Higher Education Commission, Dr. Syed Mohammad Arif, ex-professor University of Balochistan, Dr. Durre-e-Nayab, a demographer, Joint Director/Director Research PIDE, Dr. Ayesha Sheraz, Demographer/Senior Fellow, NIPS, Mazhar Jamal, ex-Joint Census Commissioner, Geography/GIS specialist, and Dr Sanam Wagma Khattak, demographer from the University of Peshawar.

The committee’s recommendations are expected to bring about major improvements in the process and methodology of data collection for census, which will address the complaints and concerns emanating from various quarters on the results of national census.