ISLAMABAD - The disqualification of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has delayed results of the much-awaited 6th population census, which was expected to be announced on July 31 after getting approval from the Council of Common Interests (CCI).

“The provisional results of the 6th population census are ready, which will be presented before the CCI for approval before making it public, “said Habib Ullah Khan, a spokesperson for the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) while talking to The Nation on Saturday.

He said that the CCI was scheduled to meet on July 31 to approve the provisional census results. But the meeting has been postponed for an indefinite time after the disqualification of the former prime minister.

He said that it was essential to get approval from the CCI as the census contains the data of the provincial governments.  The CCI is a constitutional body, which resolves the disputes of power sharing between the federation and provinces.

Khan said that the final results of the 6th population census would be completed by April or May next year, as according to the census plan. He informed that census conducted in entire Pakistan.

Another official of the PBS said that they had conducted the census in a transparent manner with the help of the army. The international observers had shown satisfaction over the credibility and transparency of the exercise, he said.

The delay in census results could hold-up the Election Commission of Pakistan’s plan for delimitation of national and provincial assembly constituencies on the basis of the new population count. 

The chief election commissioner had already noted that they will not be in a position to start work on fresh delimitations before obtaining the final census data.

In a recent meeting with Chief Statistician Asif Bajwa, the chief election commissioner said it had now become impossible for the ECP to conduct elections on fresh delimitations, as the commission needed around seven months to carry out the process.

The census was carried out after a gap of 19 years at a cost of Rs18.5 billion. The result of the ongoing census will be used for delimitation of constituencies, a division of fiscal resources and allocation of civil service quotas among the four federating units.    

The government had conducted the census in two phases. In the first phase, the census was carried out in 63 districts from March 15 to April 15. In the second phase, the exercise covered 88 districts from April 25 to May 25.

According to reports, the government conducted its first census in 1951, the second in 1961, the third in 1972, the fourth census in 1981 and the fifth census was conducted in March 1998. According to the Constitution, it is mandatory to conduct census after every 10 years.