ISLAMABAD - The federation hinted at holding population and housing census in March or April next year, as the armed forces are presently busy in Zarb-e-Azab.

In a statement, submitted in the apex court on Tuesday, said: “In case, necessary strength of armed forces is made available a fresh date, possibly March/April 2017, will be proposed to the Council of Common Interest (CCI) for holding census.”

A two-member bench comprising Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali and Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, hearing a suo motu on July 15, had ordered the additional attorney general to get instructions from the authorities and file a statement when it intended to hold census and inform about definite time-frame within two weeks.

The CJP had taken a suo motu notice of not holding census in the country despite lapse of eight years.

The reply says that census is in Part-II (9) of 1973 Constitution and falls within the purview of the CCI, which on March 25, 2016 had decided that efforts should be made to conduct census in this year, subject to availability of required armed forces personnel to ensure transparency and credibility. The Ministry of Finance allocated funds in the financial budget.

However, the Military Operation Directorate told that presently the requisite troops are not available for census in view of the Zarb-e-Azab.

The report said that in compliance of the court order Statistics Division/ Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) approached the Defence Division regarding availability of the armed forces for census so that a comprehensive plan could be submitted to the CCI and the apex court.

The secretary Statistics Division along with chief statistician and member visited the Military Operation Directorate, General Headquarters, Rawalpindi, on July 20 to discuss holding of census in current year.

The director Military Operation informed about the deployment of armed forces in Zarb-e-Azab and security related tasks and that the requisite number of troop could not be presently available for census. He assured that as soon as there was improvement in the present security situation, the troops’ availability position will be re-assessed by December.

A follow-up meeting was held in Statistics Division with the Ministry of Defence on July 22, which was attended by the representatives of NADRA, Military Operation Directorate, GHQ and PBS.

Holding of census under the supervision of armed forces was reviewed, particularly with reference to use of NADRA’s database in aid of census result and use of latest technology i.e. Android Cell Phone and Tablets in census operation instead of traditional method.

After detailed deliberation, it was decided that the CCI be updated that the Military Operation will reassess the availability of forces by the end of this year and inform the PBS through Ministry of Defence. On completion of CNIC verification exercise, NADRA through Ministry of Interior shall inform PBS regarding blocked and cancelled CNICs issued to the Afghans and other aliens. In the meanwhile, the PBS shall make preparations for use of latest technology in data collection.

The statement says that the PBS, which is entrusted to hold population and housing census under section 31 of General Statistics (Re-Organisation) Act 2011, has completed essential arrangements on the civil side.