The 7th Population Census will be held in the next calendar year. The government has moved a summary before the Council of Common Interests (CCI) for approval for the holding of the census, with details of foolproof security of personnel of armed forces.
A census is always hugely consequential—it can redefine constituencies, demographics and limitations, thus having a big impact on elections and politics. In fact, the 2017 census raised a lot of contentions from different political parties, particularly the PPP which used the excuse of the census to delay local elections. The results of the census also has a large impact on the construction of policies, research initiatives and funds allocation.
Thus, it is essential for the functioning of the country—and for the next democratic process to proceed smoothly—that the census should be conducted as transparently and fairly as possible. While the government works on this, it is also important to back up the digital experiment with the regular paper trail since this is the first time. Training of staff and a whole host of other issues could lead to more errors in the count, which is why the implementation of digital setups is generally given more time.
This task is made more formidable considering this is the first time the census will be conducted digitally. The government has not had a good record with keeping up to date with technological advancements in this regard—it must ensure it has the best resources and experts on hand to help with this gigantic project. The government must also look to the 2017 census to make sure it does not repeat the mistakes made then. On this occasion, the census should be a collaborative project. To ensure credibility and ownership of the entire census process, provinces must be involved from the start to the end and from planning to the compilation of census results.