ISLAMABAD - Opposition Leader Syed Khursheed Shah yesterday expressing concerns over the statement of Chief Census Commissioner for negating the importance of timely holding of census in Pakistan, asked Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to ensure holding of national census as early as possible in the country.

Shah, through a letter to Prime Minister Sharif, expressed reservations about further delay in census.

Opposition leader was of the view that the statement of Chief Census Commissioner negating the importance of timely census is worrisome and questionable. “At a time when almost every Pakistani is demanding a fresh census in the country, the statement of the Chief Commissioner not only hints a further delay but also shows unwillingness of the government to complete this process at the earliest,” he wrote in his letter to the prime minister.

About the importance of census for country, he said census is essential to know the exact headcount necessary to ensure judicious distribution of resources, equal representation in parliament, constituency delimitation, electoral process, tax collection and civic issues including growing urbanisation and evaluation of resources for infrastructure development.

“I have already written a letter on December 3, 2013, regarding the matter of population census. And I am writing you again as I feel it’s a serious matter concerning the future of this country,” he said, adding that authorities concerned should give a timeline to avoid further delay in conducting census rather than giving such shaky statements. About conducting national census, Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC) Riaz Hussain Pirzada has shared with this newspaper around a week before that IPC Ministry has completed paper work for ‘National Population Census’.

“The national population census is pending till the completion of operation Zarb-e-Azab, as constitutionally it cannot be conducted step-by-step in different provinces,” Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC) Riaz Hussain Pirzada had shared with this scribe.

Earlier, The Council of Common Interests (CCI) around five months ago had decided to delay the population census till the end of Operation Zarb e Azb.

The last census was held in 1998 and the next was due in 2008 as under the constitution the exercise should be conducted once in every 10 years.