ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Bureau of Statistics announced that the Population and housing census is scheduled for March 15.

The overseas Pakistanis will not be included: “Only those expatriates who left the country less than six months ago will be counted,” Chief Statistician Asif Bajwa told reporters after releasing data on inflation at the Statistics House.

Following the new rule sets approximately seven million Pakistanis, mostly labourers from Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Azad Jammu and Kashmir working in the Middle East, to not be counted as part of the country’s population.

Adding further, Mr Bajwa stated that Pakistanis who had been abroad for more than six months would not be counted as part of Pakistan’s population. This also includes students studying in foreign universities.

The first phase of the census will start on March 15 and end on April 15, while the second phase will commence on April 25 and end on May 25. The census reports will be completed in two months. The army will provide 45,000 personnel for the first phase and another 45,000 personnel from the civil administration would also be involved.  

The first census in the country was conducted in 1951, the second in 1961, the third in 1972, instead of 1971 due to political turmoil, and the fourth in 1981. The fifth census, which was due in 1991, was held in March 1998 with the help of the army. Under the Constitution, the government is bound to conduct population census every 10 years.

Several political parties in Balochistan have opposed the census on issue of Afghan refugees and urged the government to first ensure complete repatriation of Afghan refugees. Only those Afghans who have valid Pakistani ID cards will be counted while the rest will be left out. The PBS will use Nadra’s database to check fake ID cards.

In response, Mr Bajwa stated that the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) has blocked approximately 100,000 fake ID cards belonging to Afghans. Bajwa said that the census would cover all the people living in the country irrespective of their ethnicity or nationality and the Foreign nationals would also be registered.

On the matter of internal migration, he said people who had migrated from one province to another and stayed there for more than six months would be counted as part of the population of the host province.

There are stages based upon the approved plan. The census will be taken first in Federal Territory (Islamabad), Balochistan, and be divided into two phases for Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Fata, AJK and Gilgit Baltistan will be covered in the second phase.

The divisions to be covered in the first phase are: Mardan and Peshawar (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Lahore, Faisalabad, Dera Ghazi Khan and Sargodha (Punjab), Karachi, Hyderabad and Mirurkhas (Sindh) and Quetta, Zhob, Sibi, Naseerabad, Kalat and Markan (Balochistan).

The divisions to be covered in the second phase are: Hazara, Malakand, Kohat, Bannu and DI Khan (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Gujranwala, Rawalpindi, Bahwalpur, Multan and Sahiwal (Punjab), and Larkana, Sukkur and SB (Shaheed Benazir) Abad (Sindh). The second phase of the census will include the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK) and GB, respectively.