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January 13, 2016

Census may still face hurdles this year


January 13, 2016

Multifarious military responsibilities may hinder the plan

ISLAMABAD: The government is ready to conduct population census in coming March/ April this year provided Pakistan Army agrees to deploy its troops along with every enumerators in total 164,000 blocks in accordance with decision taken by Council of Common Interests (CCI), it is learnt.

So far Army has not given 100 percent green signal to authorities concerned as so far they are busy in calculating total requirements of soldiers for ensuring safety and credibility of this important task, having far reaching impact on political and financial atmosphere of the country.

But if Army remains unable to deploy troops because of hectic engagements on borders as well as for undertaking ongoing Zarb-e-Azb against militants in tribal areas and other parts of the country then the holding of census will become simply impossible again even after gap of 17 years as the last census was also held in 1998 with the support of Army’s personnel.

“However, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar seems confident that he would get the required support of Pak Army for conducting this important task,” senior officials said after holding meeting with Finance Minister on Monday evening. The minister had chaired a meeting to review preparations for the upcoming Population and Housing Census-2016.

The CCI under chairmanship of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had taken decision to conduct population census under supervision of Pak Army in March/April 2016.

The finance minister is said to have made contacts with top military leadership on the eve of last Governing Council meeting held few days back in order to get green signal and so far he seemed confident that the Army would be able to spare soldiers for undertaking this important exercise.

The sources said that the Army’s Defence Unit was assigned to work out exact modalities to match with the requirement of total workforce.

For last census held in 1998, Pak Army had deployed around 250,000 personnel in total 104,000 blocks all over the country. Now the number of blocks has been increased to 164,000 all over the country so it requires at least 3,50,000 personnel from commander to soldiers. This number might go up because they will have to deploy additional strength for ensuring security of their personnel as well in different sensitive parts of the country.

“A proposal to hold census on pattern of elections was discussed but rejected by the authorities arguing that the population census could not be held in phases,” said the official.

Chief Statistician, Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), told that their preparations were underway to accomplish this important exercise in accordance with the decision taken by CCI where Army’s support was required in this regard. “We are holding meetings with Army’s officials to finalise our arrangements,” he added.

He said that the census forms having bar code provided by UK were sufficient to meet our requirements so there was no immediate need for publishing more such forms.“We have started providing training to our master trainers who will then be assigned to impart training all over the country,” he added.

According to press statement issued by Finance Ministry on Monday night, Chief Statistician, PBS informed the meeting that as decided in the just concluded 9th meeting of Board of Governors, frequent consultations with technical experts and professionals are being conducted for ensuring quality arrangements and preparations for the census.

He also shared with the meeting details of the media plan for projection of the census and public familiarisation.

Ishaq Dar said that all arrangements should be given a final, concrete shape so as to ensure undertaking the census on schedule.Senior officials of the Ministry of Finance and Statistics Division attended the meeting.