ISLAMABAD - A Senate panel showed its concern on Thursday over the continuous delay in holding of population census, due since 2008, and suspected that the chances of holding of next census looked dim even in the next two years due to a number of causes including security reasons.

The Senate Standing Committee on Inter-provincial Coordination that held under the chair of Farah Aqil also decided to write a letter to the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that allout efforts be put in place to conduct population census as the last census was conducted in 1998. Under the existing practice, population census is due after every ten years in the country.

The committee gathered to get a briefing on the government plan and strategy for holding next population census in Pakistan.

A female committee member from Balochistan, Begum Kalsoom Perveen, even went on to say that a constitutional amendment was required to make it binding on the government to hold population census within a specific period of time. The chairperson showed surprise that the country was using demographic data of 16 years old and pointed out that holding of census was very important to have a deeper look into the growing needs of the country.

Secretary Ministry of Inter-provincial Coordination Ijaz Chaudhry told the participants that the Prime Minister was keen in holding of population census and had categorically said that the census should be held. “The matter is with the Council of Common Interests (CCI),” he informed. He said it had been decided like 2011, 2012 and 2013 that the PM would talk with all the provinces and these had been written in this regard.

“The Balochistan government has written a letter to the federation that census could not be held in 8 to 10 districts of the province due to bad law and order conditions there,” the secretary said adding that the chief minister Balochistan had been asked to give the solution.

Chief Statistician, Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), Asif Bajwa, informed the committee that the bureau was ready to hold census but this would have to keep in mind that a military operation was going in North Waziristan Agency (NWA) besides bad security situation of FATA, Balochistan and in some areas of Karachi. “It was necessary that population census should be held at the same time throughout Pakistan to get exact results,” he argued.

He said that PBS had total 16.3 million house blocks and the same number of enumerators would be required to conduct census. “Our application with the army was pending for the provision of troops to conduct census,” he said adding that census was not possible without the deployment of 20 million troops keeping in view the volatile security situation of the country, “How can we conduct census without security in a country where polio workers are being targeted and killed,” he stressed.

He said that two officials of the bureau had been killed and the same were injured during house listing census held in 2011.

Chairperson Farah Aqil questioned whether it was not a constitutional requirement to conduct census within a specific period of time. Asif Bajwa answered that it was a constructional requirement to hold census but there was no bar of time period and keeping in view international practice census was held after every ten years. Pakistan was among few countries where census was delayed.

“Ten months needed for the preparation of census,” Bajwa said. The chairperson showed surprise that we were relying on probabilities for the last more than fifteen years. Kasoom Perveen said that they should prepare a constitutional amendment and bring it in the Parliament in this connection.

To a question of chairperson that Pakistan had no demographics data of people living in hilly areas during earthquake of 2005 and US provided these, chief statistician dispelled the impression saying: “We have all the data and now satellite image were being taken to upgrade the system.

To a question, Asif Bajwa said that population data could also be got through up gradation of birth and death system I the country and if was possible only if B-Form would be made mandatory.

The committee stressed that it was possible to conduct census but after hearing the official concerned, it concluded that the chances of holding of census looked dim in next two years.