Expressing displeasure over the federal and provincial governments for dragging their feet in holding fresh population census in the country, the Sindh High Court directed them to gear up efforts for holding the census within shortest possible time.
The court directed the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) to make preparations for the census at the earliest as the same has been delayed inordinately.
A division bench headed by Chief Justice Maqbool Baqar had taken up a petition filed by Dr Muhammed Siddique Rathore, vice president of the Jamiat Ulema Pakistan (JUP), who moved the court seeking its directives for the respondents to hold population census in the province before holding local government elections.
Following the court order, the PBS submitted a report stating it was ready and willing to conduct the fresh census; however, the matter was pending with the Council of Common Interests (CCI).
It submitted that at least 10 months are required for making necessary arrangements and developing coordination with the provinces to undertake the exercise. Moreover, necessary funds are also required.
The court noted it was unfortunate that the summary for holding 6th population and housing census was placed on the agenda of the CCI meeting for its consideration on February 10, 2014, however, the matter remained undecided.
Subsequently, when the matter came up in CCI meeting on May 20, 2014, it was agreed in principle to conduct census at the earliest and the Balochistan chief minister was asked to come up with possible solution of holding census in the province in view of law and order situation within a month and the minister for inter-provincial coordination was directed to coordinate with Balochistan CM on the issue but the report of PBS did not reveal what transpired thereafter, said the court order.
“The above-mentioned report reveals absolute non-serious attitude of the government. It rather reflects that the government is attempting to delay the census,” noted the court, adding in view of bad law and order situation in Balochistan, immediate measures should be put in place to counter the same.
Moreover, the judges said, when operation against the terrorists and outlaws was under way in the country, it seemed that the situation in Balochistan has relatively improved. They directed the government to allocate sufficient funds for the exercise without any further loss of time.
The court directed all the concerned more particularly the cabinet division, prime minister secretariat and PBS to submit a detailed and comprehensive report after preparations so that census as required could be held within the shortest possible time and steps towards the same be initiated at once.