Census Chief Commissioner Asif Bajwa on Tuesday turned down the objections raised by political parties over the results of the recent population census, claiming that the verification of ‘each individual’ was ensured.
Briefing the Senate’s Committee on Privatisation and Statistics about the recent census, the commissioner said that the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) had verified the national identity cards of 20 per cent of the population through the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), adding that 70 million people in the country do not possess identity cards.
Rejecting the opposition’s demands that the PBS should compare its records with that of the Pakistan Army to get a clear picture, Bajwa said that both the institutions had similar records, adding that the army had assisted the department in carrying out the census by ensuring that the process was transparent and by providing security.
The chief commissioner also said that the reason why there was not much difference in the population of Karachi and Lahore was that the government had declared entire Lahore district as urban, while two districts in Karachi were still classified as rural.
PPP Senator Aijaz Dhamra had rejected the census results pointing out that the population of Karachi and Lahore — the provincial capitals of Sindh and Punjab, respectively — had not shown major differences, which was not possible.
The census commissioner also waived the objections over the ‘transgender community’s’ census saying that only those who had declared themselves as transgenders were included in the category. “No one was counted as a transgender based on their appearance,” he said to the committee. The overseas Pakistanis had not been included in the census, he added.
According to the commissioner, the final census report will be prepared by April 2018. He added that the cost of the census amounted to Rs 17 billion.
The Senate committee demanded that a post-census survey be conducted in 1 per cent of the total 168,943 blocks. It said that provincial governments should determine the blocks.
Opposition parties, notably the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan (MQM-P), have voiced serious concerns over the preliminary results of the national census, questioning the authenticity of the figures released by the statistics division.
Opposition leader Khursheed Shah had released a statement last week demanding that the data collected by the division and the Pakistan Army be compared to get authentic results.
Shah had also claimed that the government had treated the enumeration exercise as a mere formality, adding that no one was satisfied with the way the census was conducted. However, Bajwa told the Senate committee that the census had been conducted based on the 1998 model.
MQM-P leader Dr Farooq Sattar had also rejected the results and termed them as “rigged”. He alleged that the population of Karachi had been understated as “it cannot be less than 30 million”.
According to the provisional results, 20 per cent of Pakistan’s population lives in 10 cities. Karachi is the most populous city in Pakistan housing 14.9 million people, which shows a 57pc increase in the population since 1998. Lahore holds the second position with 11.13m people, showing an alarming increase of 75pc increase in its population and is followed by Faisalabad, Rawalpindi, Peshawar and Hyderabad, among others.
On average, the population in the country’s 10 largest cities has grown by 71 per cent over the past 19 years and currently stands at 41 million, as compared to the 24 million who lived there in 1998.