ISLAMABAD - The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly (NA) Syed Khursheed Shah on Wednesday separately wrote letters to Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif, calling for a fresh population census to be conducted in Pakistan.

The population census, last conducted in 1998, should be conducted on priority basis as it would be helpful for next general elections in the country, according to the crux of the letters written to the Prime Minister. The Election Commission, in its letter, also asked the PML-N government to bring the matter to the notice of the Council of Common Interests (CCI), sources said, adding that the ECP also highlighted the need and importance of the population and delimitation of constituencies on its basis.

Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly (NA) Syed Khursheed Shah terming it a constitutional requirement called for fresh population census in the country.

Shah, in a letter to PM, said that it is a constitutional requirement for better planning of developmental programmes related to health, housing, education urbanization planning, etc.

He further mentioned that this survey could also be important for allocation of assembly seats and constituency limitations. Shah also highlighted the newly conducted data base could also be helpful for meeting the demands of fast increasing population by matching it with resources.

It would not be out of place to mention here that the first census in Pakistan after independence was conducted in 1951, and later in 1961, 1972, 1981, and 1998. The 1971 population census was delayed one year due to war, while the census in 1998 was delayed due to political issues. The country’s next national census was scheduled to take place in 2008, and later in 2010 but the plan could not materialize.