The census would be a politically challenging activity. This fact was well known way before it began. The initial problems included the security of the enumerators; however, the activity was allotted 70 days for completion. This was a long enough time for the entire process to reach fulfilment. Previously, the enumerators were only given two weeks.

After dealing with these initial problems, the hardcore political issues came up. Mainstream political parties like Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) were strongly against the inclusion of several key aspects into the census. It was reduced to merely a headcount of the individuals in the country rather than showing a demographic change and internal migration. If such key information was to be included, it would have meant a change in the number of seats in the National Assembly (NA); one of the things that these parties rely on. It would also meant a revision in the National Finance Commission (NFC) Award.

Delaying tactics are what our political actors are adept in. In a recent meeting of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), it has been declared that the existing delimitation of the constituencies are going to be used because they do not have the required data. Even if they did, the delimitation process takes around 7 months for completion. According to the Chief Census Commissioner, Asif Bajwa, data entry is underway and the final report will be published by April next year.

This sheer lack of planning highlights how misplaced our priorities are. A special committee was formed in October 2014 to work on the laws pertaining to electoral reforms. Since then, the committee had not been able to hold regular meetings to identify the plausible ways of dealing with the census. The ECP also offered to help the NA in gathering all the stakeholders and pushing the activity forward. However, like always, it was delayed to the extent that it would hold no meaning in the upcoming elections.

This move benefits the mainstream political parties. It also highlights how flawed our system is and activities like the census become mere political gimmicks. Those in power should realise the importance of carrying out the census and democratically pushing forward the delimitation process. This not just simply about the constituencies, but also impacts the inclusion of FATA with KP. The more that is delayed, the more challenging it will get to control these areas.