ISLAMABAD - The government has decided to take political parties and provinces into confidence over holding of the sixth national housing and population census across the country which may result in delay of conducting the exercise by a month or so.

Sources in the government informed The Nation that keeping in view serious reservations over holding of the population census from Balochsitan and Sindh based political parties, Prime Minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif has directed the concerned quarters to hold meetings with the leadership of the parties from these two provinces and allay their concerns and avoid pushing the matter into controversy.

These sources said that the concerns of the provinces would be addressed in the upcoming Council of Common Interests (CCI) meeting due on 29th of this month.

The government was planning to hold the national housing and population census sometime last year but the matter was deferred due to the poor law and order situation in Balochistan. But now besides Balochistan, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have also raised objections over carrying out the exercise across the country without taking them into confidence.

On the other hand, the Armed Forces have also not pledged the requisite force required for this massive activity across the country owing to its active engagement in carrying out operation Zarb-e-Azb and other related jobs.

The last time census was held in the country in 1998 and it is the constitutional requirement that the exercise would be carried out after every 10 years and it has been long overdue.

It is pertinent to mention here that in 2010, then government decided to carry out the population census in 2011 but the same could not be carried out by the then PPPP-led government due to massive floods which had devastated parts of all the four provinces with major damage in Punjab and Sindh.

However, the house listing exercise which is a part of the population census exercise was conducted in 2011. The first census in Pakistan was conducted in 1951, the second in 1961, and the third in 1972 instead of 1971 due to political turmoil. The fourth census was held in March 1981 and fifth, which was due in 1991, was conducted in March 1998.