Govt yet to work through nitty-gritty of plan

ISLAMABAD – Though the PML-N government will make all-out efforts to carry out the five per cent audit of census blocks on the basis of provisional census results — as agreed upon at the recently held meeting of the Council of Common Interest — before completing its five years term, it is yet to work through the nitty-gritty details of the plan.

The process for the audit of the census blocks has yet to take a shape as minutes of the last CCI meeting have not been provided to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) for undertaking the task.

“An estimated timeframe of around six months will be required for completing the audit,” the sources said that mentioning that besides the budget, the PBS will have to put in place the usual modus operandi to complete the exercise at the stipulated time.

The government has committed to complete the exercise in three months time, which, according to the sources, was not sufficient to wrap up the task.

The issue of raising the census blocks from one per cent to five per cent for a third party audit was approved at the last CCI meeting chaired by the Prime Minister.

Recently, the National Assembly passed a Constitutional Amendment about fresh delimitation of constituencies on the basis of provisional results of the 6th population census, but, the Senate is yet to pass the Constitutional Amendment.

It was the demand of the Pakistan People’s Party and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan to raise the blocks from one per cent to five per cent for a third-party validation.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had assured the Opposition to fulfil the demand at the CCI meeting.

MQM-P chief Farooq Sattar recently tweeted: “We protested against census 2017 because of discrepancies. Hence, moved to SC. Finally, NA approved our proposal of 3rd party audit of five blocks of census 2017 results. While recommending the decision we hope that a transparent audit takes place for the stable future of Pakistan.”

The deadlock over the Constitutional amendment started at the 48th National Assembly session when the PML-N thrice failed to get the law passed after the two Opposition parties (PPP and MQM) opposed it.

Political pundits believe that the government will complete the audit of blocks before the completion of its tenure (June 2018) to take the credit for carrying out the population census without any controversy.

The government has also persuaded the Opposition to pass the Constitutional (Amendment) Bill, 2017 regarding fresh delimitation of constituencies from the Upper House of Parliament in its upcoming session.

The first population census was conducted in 1951, the second in 1961, the third in 1972, the fourth in March 1981, the fifth in 1998 and the 6th census was conducted in 2017. The census is required for judicious distribution of resources, representation in Parliament, tax collection, etc.

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