The Govt Wants to Address PPP's Concerns About the Census

Federal government addresses concerns raised by PPP over digital census in Pakistan

The federal government decided to address the concerns raised by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) regarding the digital census. To alleviate reservations of the PPP, Chief Statistician of the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), Dr Naeem Uz Zafar, and his technical team will meet with Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah.

The meeting was decided by the 7th Census Monitoring Committee under the leadership of Federal Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives Ahsan Iqbal. The heads of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, and Punjab’s secretariats, as well as the NADRA chairman and PBS director, were present at the meeting.

The planning minister promised that the concerns of Sindh would be immediately addressed and that the government would consult with all the provinces before the census. The planning minister’s efforts to address his province’s reservations were appreciated by the chief minister of Sindh.

The PBS chief statistician briefed the attendees on the census activities, and it was decided that the Census Monitoring Committee will meet once a week for better coordination and prompt problem-solving.

The next general elections would be based on the results of the new census, according to Planning Minister Iqbal, who emphasized that this was a matter of national importance. He added that it was their duty to ensure accuracy and transparency because some people were trying to sabotage the process. The minister emphasized that he will not compromise on transparency and that the digital census will affect Pakistan’s future.

As a result of the federal government’s commitment, the process will be completed by April 30, 2023, to be followed by four months of delimitation of new constituencies by the ECP.

The PPP chairman, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, recently criticized the digital census as “flawed” and threatened to leave the federal cabinet if his concerns weren’t addressed.

The Sindh Assembly also passed a resolution in which it expressed grave reservations about the digital census and called for an extension of the deadlines for self-enumeration, house listing, and headcount. Jam Khan Shoro, the irrigation minister who proposed the resolution, criticized the scant media attention and publicity given to the ongoing digital census.

The resolution stated that the results of the pilot census conducted in July 2022 were kept a secret from the people of Sindh. Additionally, it was noted that the relevant authorities were hesitant to respond to the Sindh government’s request for access to the dataset, and the dashboard was not functional, raising serious concerns about the thoroughness and quality of the enumeration.

It should be noted that the federal government is committed to ensuring that the digital census is transparent and accurate, taking into account all reservations of all provinces, and that it is completed by the date specified. The Census Monitoring Committee’s ongoing weekly meetings will guarantee improved coordination and prompt issue resolution.

Written by Imad Khan

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