ISLAMABAD - The government has counted Afghan refugees in the 6th population census as non-residents, which has resulted in the upward trend in the overall population of the country.

“The government had counted the Afghan refugees in camps during 5th population census held in 1998. Later, the Afghan refugees moved to different cities and villages in 2005 when they were issued Proof of Residence (PoR) Cards. Therefore, the government has counted them in the 6th population census, which was one of the reasons for the increase in the overall population ,” said consultant to Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) Asif Bajwa while addressing a press conference about the recently held census and its provisional results.

He said that the number of physically-challenged persons was recorded less than 1 million during the census exercise. “The number of physically-challenged persons is not correct, as we had got the decision of the Supreme Court after the start of the census process,” said Bajwa.

He further said that census expenditures stood at Rs17 billion wherein Rs6 billion was provided to the Pakistan Army and the remaining sum was spent by the civil administration on the exercise.

The census was conducted in two phases from March 15 to May 24 after a gap of 19 years. The Council of Common Interests (CCI) on August 25 approved the provisional census results, which showed Pakistan’s population has touched 207.8 million thresholds with an increase of 57 percent since 1998. The annual growth of population has been recorded at 2.4 percent.

He said that the federal government would address the concerns of the Sindh government on the provisional results.

Meanwhile, the other three provinces — Punjab, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, and Balochistan — have raised no reservations on the provisional results, he said. “The government has formed a high-powered governing council for supervising the compilation of the census data,” said Bajwa and added that they had asked the provinces to send their teams for inspection of the data compilation process. Teams from Punjab, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, and Sindh had already visited the PBS headquarters.

Bajwa said that final results of the population census would be announced in April next year, which might have some variation as compared to the provisional data of the census. A variation of around 1.5 percent was witnessed between the final and provisional figures of 1998 census that was according to international standards.

The CCI would take the decision on holding next general election on the basis of the 6th census in its next meeting, he said.

“The PBS had recommended to the CCI at its last meeting to make a constitutional amendment to replace the word ‘final’ with ‘provisional’ results to hold next general election on the basis of the 6th population census. The matter was referred to the Inter-Provincial Coordination Committee, which would send its recommendations to the CCI after getting replies from provincial governments,” he said.

Bajwa clarified that not the federal government but the provincial governments had determined the rural and urban areas.    

“The Local Government Department and the Director Military Lands were given authority to determine the rural and urban areas ahead of the census exercise,” he said.