All over the world states conduct the census to enable them in getting different sets of information regarding their citizenry, but Pakistan has ignored this responsibility and then unnecessarily delayed it. It helps a state in formulating policies, plans to run public services and allocate funding to different areas of a country. Right now, we are running on guess work.

In most countries, the population census is conducted once every ten years. However, there are countries where the process is repeated every five years. In Pakistan, this will be after 19 years, 20 if the federal government doesn’t stabilise and pull itself together.

The results were expected by the end of July this year. However, the present political mayhem, resulting in the ouster of the PM, has delayed the results, and it is unclear why. This is a bureaucratic exercise, sanctioned by the government, and the news of a delay just sounds like another excuse. Expectations were that the government would announce the results of the much-awaited census on July 31, 2017, once approved by the Council of Common Interests (CCI). Expectations also were that the census would be put into use for delimitations before the elections in 2018, but expectations and actions rarely match when it comes to policymaking in Pakistan.

Because of the disqualification of the former Prime Minister, a meeting of CCI cannot be held accordingly. The meeting has been postponed for an indefinite time. Deferring results of an already delayed process, that is claimed to have been completed, is disappointing. A successful census is a victory in itself, and results should be announced without delay. Imagine the benefits to academic research and national projects and from it, not to mention future elections, national and otherwise.

In the longer run, the results of the census will allow the government of Pakistan to divide fiscal resources and allocate civil service quotas among the four federating units. However, any further suspension in announcing the results of the census may exacerbate the already strained relations between the four provinces. The Government of Pakistan needs to declare the results of the process as soon as the interim Prime Minister takes charge of his duties.