ISLAMABAD - A parliamentary committee on Tuesday expressed reservations over the provisional results of 6th population census and demanded a post-census survey in one percent out of the total 168,000 blocks for cross-verification while Pakistan Bureau of Statistics rejected the objections raised by political parties over the census results, claiming the verification of ‘every individual’ was ensured.

The Senate Standing Committee on Privatisation and Statistics, which met under the chairmanship of Senator Mohsin Aziz, discussed the provisional results of the 6th population census.

The Council of Common Interests (CCI) on August 25 approved the results of the 6th population census, which showed Pakistan’s population has touched 207.8 million mark with an increase of 57 percent since 1998. The annual growth of population is 2.4 percent.

The 6th population census was carried out after a gap of 19 years from March 15 to May 24, 2017.

However, the political parties of Sindh have rejected results of the census.

Similarly, the Senate’s committee has also expressed reservations over the results of the census and said that Pakistan Army has different statistics on population census as compared to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).

The committee members recommended to the CCI to conduct a post-census survey in one percent of the 168,000 blocks. The blocks to be surveyed should be determined by the provincial governments, they said.

However, the PBS has rejected the objections of the opposition parties on census results. “Both, PBS and Pakistan Army have similar data on recently conducted population census,” said Asif Bajwa, consultant to the PBS on census 2017.

“We had sought the help of army for three purposes including, transparency, credibility and security. None of the provinces had raised any concerns on population census results during the meeting of the CCI,” he claimed and added if someone had solid proof of any area, which remained uncounted he should bring into the notice of the PBS.

Bajwa further said the government would have to see the availability of the Pakistan Army and international practices for conducting post-census survey.

He, while sharing details of the 6th population census, said the PBS had 20 percent of the national identity cards of the population through the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra), and around 70 million people of the country did not possess identity cards.

He said that population census cost Rs17.26 billion to the national kitty. Four army men lost their lives in a suicide bomb attack on a population census team in Lahore.

Similarly, 10 enumerators lost their lives during traffic incidents, while 19 were injured during performing their duties in the census.

The final results of the census would be compiled by April next year, Bajwa added.

Talking about provisional results, the consultant to the PBS informed the committee that Pakistan’s population had reached 207.8 million with annual growth of 2.4 percent. The country’s total population stood at 132.35 million in 1998.

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s population share in overall population has increased by 13.4 percent in 2017 as compared to 1998.

Similarly, Balochistan’s share increased to 5.9 percent from 4.9 percent, Sindh to 23.05 percent from 23 percent, Islamabad to 0.9 percent from 0.61 percent and Punjab’s share in overall population reduced to 52.95 percent from 55.63 per cent.

Bajwa also clarified the reasons for little difference in population of Karachi and Lahore.

He said that Punjab government had declared the entire Lahore district as urban, while two districts in Karachi were still classified as rural.

Giving details of the cities’ population, Bajwa said that Karachi was the most populous city in Pakistan with 14.9 million people, followed by Lahore with 11.13 million. 

He further said the government had counted transgender persons for the first time. Only those who had declared themselves as transgender were included in the category.

"No one was counted as transgender based on their appearance," Bajwa said. However, the government had not counted overseas Pakistanis.

He informed that one individual in Balochistan had shown 63 children.

The committee members also expressed reservations over the growth rate of population of the country.

Committee member Senator Saleem Mandviwalla said the government had not taken any steps to control the soaring population.

AFP adds: The previous census in 1998 put the population of Lahore at roughly 5.1 million people. Preliminary results of the 2017 census released by the PBS late Monday showed it had surged by a whopping 116 percent to 11,126,285 people, making it larger than Portugal, according to figures provided by the CIA World Factbook.

The results, which officials said could have a margin of error of up to two percent, mark a remarkable shift for Lahore, a power base for the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

But they were quickly called into question by the opposition parties, particularly in Sindh, where the early results also showed surprisingly slow growth for Karachi.

The country's commercial and industrial hub had a population of 9.3 million in 1998, and in recent years has been estimated to be home to some 20 million or more.

However the early census figures showed it had increased by 59 percent since 1998 to a population numbering 14,910,352, roughly equivalent to the number of people living in Senegal but still significantly lower than expected.

Pakistan Bureau of Statistics spokesman Habubullah Khattak told AFP there was no discrepancy in the statistics, suggesting the difference may be down to different regulations for urban and rural zoning in the two cities.

Once confirmed in the final report, Pakistan could be set to overtake Brazil as the world's fifth most populous country, according to statistics published on the US Census Bureau website.

The results will be the basis for revising political boundaries, allocations of parliamentary seats and finances ahead of national elections.

Punjab, for example, could see its political grip weaken as a result of its population not rising at a similar rate to other provinces, despite the growth recorded in Lahore.