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Punjab may lose seven NA seats in new constituency delimitation

Tahir Mehdi

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Punjab’s share in the general seats of the National Assembly is likely to go down by as
much as seven when a new constituency delimitation exercise is conducted in accordance
with the population figures provisionally released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics
last month.

Out of a total of 272 geographical constituencies, the country’s biggest province currently
has the majority share of 148 seats. Census 2017 has revealed that the population
growth rate in Punjab has been the lowest among all the federating units.

Punjab’s loss will mean gain for other provinces. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will be the biggest
beneficiary gaining four more seats while Balochistan is likely to add two to its tally of
14 and the share of Islamabad will rise from two to three. Sindh share is likely to remain
unchanged.

These calculations are based on the assumption that Fata will continue to retain 12 seats
that are double its share in the country’s population. The tribal areas have been accorded
similar advantage in all delimitations undertaken since 1970. The unsaid justification for
this treatment is that since the area is not represented in a provincial assembly, it has
to be compensated with greater representation in the National Assembly. This, however,
shall not hold if the tribal areas are merged into KP as proposed in the constitutional
amendment bill presented by the government in the National Assembly in May this year.

If the Fata seats stand frozen at 12 and the rest of the 260 are distributed among
provinces and the federal capital proportionate to their share in population, there shall
be one National Assembly seat for a population of 779,896 and the provincial shares
shall be as below.

Within KP, Peshawar district with four seats at present has the strongest case for
getting an additional seat. The district’s proportionate share in the 39 seats of the
province stands at 5.45. The other clear winners for an additional seat are Swat district
and the duo of Lower and Upper Dir.

The fourth additional seat, however, may prove to be contentious. Dera Ismail Khan
has at present one whole seat and it shares a second with the tiny district of Tank.
But according to the new population figures, Dera Ismail Khan now qualifies for two
whole seats with its share standing at 2.1. Tank’s share is still way below one seat,
that is 0.5, and the share of its only other neighbouring district, Lakki Marwat, is 1.12
which implies that Lakki Marwat may share one additional seat with Tank. But that
will exhaust the available additional seats, leaving none for Bannu that now has a
share of 1.49.

Despite the loss of seven seats in Punjab, the provincial capital Lahore’s tally of seat
is likely to rise from 13 to 14. The collective share of the south Punjab districts of
Dera Ghazi Khan (present seats: 3), Rajanpur (2) and Muzaffargarh (5) stands at
11.78 or 12 seats which is two more than their present total strength. They may
each get one additional seat or may share two additional seats among themselves.

On the other hand, the districts of Faisalabad (11), Sahiwal (4), Okara (5) and
Narowal (3) clearly stand to lose one seat each. Pakpattan (3) may also lose a seat
for its share stands at 2.34. It may, however, share a seat with neighbouring
Bahawalnagar (4) that has four seats against a share of 3.82.

Sheikhupura district had seven national seats in the last delimitation but then the
new district of Nankana Saheb was carved out of it. Now the two districts’ shares
are 4.44 and 1.74, respectively. So Sheikhupura will get four and Nankana two or
they will have to share one seat. In either case the number of seats for the older
district of Sheikhupura will be reduced to six.

The same will be the case for Jhang and Chiniot districts that were one at the time
of last delimitation and had six seats. Their current shares are 3.52 and 1.76.
They will either get three and two whole seats or three and one whole while
sharing the fifth one. The number of seats for the older district of Jhang in both
cases will be reduced from the present six to five.

Gujranwala (7) and Hafizabad (2) now qualify for 6.43 and 1.48 seats, respectively.
Their combined share is close to eight but they are likely to get seven unless
given one shared seat.

The fractional part of Kasur’s share of 4.43 and of Attock’s 2.41 may find it hard
to translate into a national seat. The neighbouring Gujrat and Jhelum districts
may also pose a problem as their shares are 3.53 and 1.57 adding up to 5.1 seats
but their combined seats at present are six. If these two districts are made to
share a seat, it will free up a seat and the best candidates for it can be the Kasur
and Lahore combine with an unrepresented share of 0.43 and 0.26, respectively.

Besides Karachi, Sindh had 15 districts at the time of last delimitation. Now the
province has 23 districts (sans six of Karachi) which means the new delimitation
is likely to change the entire electoral map of the province. The six districts of
Karachi now qualify for 20.44 seats compared with its present strength of 20
seats. The fractional share may or may not translate into an additional seat as
it will have to compete with six other districts whose fractional shares vary
between a quarter to over a third.

In Balochistan, as the districts are less populous than rest of the country, more
than one districts are combined to form a national constituency. Ten districts of
Kalat and Makran divisions presently share five national seats among themselves.
This is unlikely to change as their share in population has only marginally increased
from what it was in previous census. The present two seats each of Nasirabad
and Zhob divisions will also remain the same.

The proportionate share of Quetta division in province’s seats, however, now
stands at 5.41 while it currently has four seats. The share of the neighbouring
division of Sibi is 1.35 which means Quetta division in addition to a few districts
of Sibi will get both the additional seats that the province is likely to accrue
under new delimitation.

The Election Commission has to delimit constituencies after the results of the
population census are officially notified. Pakistan Bureau of Statistics has,
however, released only provisional figures of the sixth population census yet.
The field enumeration exercise for the census was concluded in May this year.

Published in Dawn, September 9th, 2017

Pakistan's population has ballooned to 207.8m,
provisional census results show

Pakistan's population has surged to 207.77 million, having experienced a 57
per cent increase since the last census in 1998, provisional census data
presented to the Council of Common Interest (CCI) on Friday shows.

The sixth population census in Pakistan, finally carried out by the Pakistan
Bureau of Statistics (PBS) earlier this year after a gap of nearly two decades,
reveals an acceleration in the population growth rate of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,
Balochistan and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), even as growth
in Punjab and Sindh has slowed compared to previous results.

Pakistan houses 106.45m males, 101.31m females and 10,418 transgenders,
the provisional data reveals.

The results show that 30.5m people reside in KP, 5m in Fata, 47.9m in Sindh,
12.3m in Balochistan, 2m in Islamabad, while Punjab — the largest province
in terms of population — houses 110 million people.

An increase in the urban-rural ratio has been observed in all administrative
units except Islamabad, which nonetheless remains the second most urbanised
unit of the country.

Over 52pc of Sindh's residents live in urban areas, which has surpassed the
capital territory as the most urbanised territory of Pakistan. Close to 36.4pc
of Pakistanis live in urban areas, the provisional results reveal.

Balochistan, the least urbanised of Pakistan's provinces, has experienced the
fastest average annual growth rate since 1998 of 3.37pc. Punjab's average
annual growth rate remained the slowest at 2.13pc, slightly below the
national average of 2.4pc.

The provisional results exclude data from Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Jammu
and Kashmir, which is likely to be included in the final report.

The census is likely to have important implications for the upcoming general
elections, as constituencies are expected to have to be redrawn according to
the newly-compiled results.

Source:DAWN.COM, August 25, 2017

Punjab may lose four NA seats to K-P, Balochistan

By Irfan Ghauri

In this file photo, Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif gestures after appearing before a Joint Investigation
Team (JIT) in Islamabad on June 17, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: Punjab’s relative success in controlling population growth may come back
to bite it by shrinking its parliamentary representation in parliament.

Seats in the National Assembly are allocated to the four provinces largely on the basis
of population. Punjab, being the most populous province, gets more than half the seats
in the assembly.

This might also result in a proportionate reduction in Punjab’s share in the federal
divisible pool in the National Finance Award. About 82% of the federal divisible pool
is distributed on the basis of population.

While demarking constituencies, in order to reduce Punjab’s dominance in the Centre,
the province was given fewer seats proportionate to its population size in 2002, when
the last proper delimitation was carried out. That was on the basis of the 1998 census,
which listed Punjab’s population at 73.62 million, while the total population of the
country was 132.35 million. Based on the population formula, the 272 directly elected
seats should have had average constituencies of 486,589 people.

With around 10% variation, constituencies are marked on the basis of population and
geographical contingency.

Punjab would have 151 seats if the population formula had been strictly followed, but
it had been allocated only 148 directly elected seats, with the other three adjusted
among the smaller provinces and regions.

According to provisional data for the 2017 census, Punjab’s population grew at an
annual rate of 2.13%, which was the lowest among all the federating units. It was
also the only federating unit to stay below the national average of 2.4%.

If the population formula is followed now, and parliament decides to partially amend
Article 51, which deals with the number of National Assembly seats, Punjab’s share
will have to be reduced further due to its lowered share of the population.

Another option available with parliament would be to increase the total number of
seats in the national and provincial assemblies, which seems unlikely.

Gains abound
Apart from Punjab’s 148 seats, the National Assembly currently has 61 seats for
Sindh, 35 for Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), 14 for Balochistan, 12 for the Federally
Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), and two for Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT).
There are also 60 indirectly elected seats reserved for women and 10 for non-Muslims.

If the assembly’s size remains the same, with the new population figure of 207.8
million, an average constituency will have 763,877 residents.

If the population-based formula is strictly followed in the new delimitations,
Punjab’s population of 110.01 million people will have 144 seats to represent
them – four fewer than its current delegation.

K-P might see the highest gains, with up to five seats being added to its current
35 in the National Assembly.

Provisional census results show an annual growth rate of 2.89% in K-P – the
third highest among the federating units and above the national average. KP’s
population now stands at 30.523 million – which is 14.69% of the total
population, as compared to 13.4% in 1998.

Balochistan is likely to be the second-largest beneficiary, with its population
meriting two more seats in addition to its current quota of 14.

Balochistan’s population stands at 12.344 million, or 5.94% of the total
population, according to the 2017 census. The province’s annual growth rate
remained 3.37% – the highest among the provinces and second only to ICT.

In the past 19 years, its population has grown by 5.8 million or 88%. Its
population share in the 1998 census was only 4.96%.

Sindh’s annual growth rate remained 2.41% – slightly above the national
average. The second-most populous province is home to 47.886 million people
or 23% of the total population. They are represented by 61 MNAs while
calculations show this figure should be between 62 and 63.

ICT’s population is now two million, which is 1.2 million higher than in the
1998 census. In terms of percentage, it has grown by 149% over the last
19 years. ICT currently has two seats in the lower house of parliament while
its population share of 2.62 would suggest it could merit a third.

Meanwhile, Fata is already the most overrepresented region, relative to
population, with 12 National Assembly seats. Fata residents only got the
right of adult franchise in the 1997 general election. It was allocated 12 seats
back then, which has remained unchanged in subsequent elections. Based
on its population in 1998, Fata’s share was 6.52 seats.

Data for 2017 census show that Fata’s population is now 5.1 million – an
increase of 1.8 million or 57%. The annual growth rate, however, remained
2.41%, or roughly equal to the national average. Its population share is now 6.5.

Long wait The last proper delimitation was done ahead of the 2002 polls.
Since no census had been held since 1998, the Election Commission of Pakistan
(ECP) only conducted readjustments of constituencies before the 2008 and
2013 elections by making nominal changes.

On a related note, an electoral reforms package passed by the National
Assembly is in the Senate for a vote. It would make it binding for election
authorities to conduct fresh delimitation after every census, which should
be held every 10 years.

Under the existing law, the ECP is now required to use the final data of the
census to conduct delimitation, which could take as long as six months to
complete. The Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), the body in charge of the
census, had earlier said that it could finalise the data by April next year, but
the ECP wants the PBS to provide the data by October this year so that a
fresh delimitation can be done.

If the PBS fails to meet this deadline, the ECP may have to settle with minor
changes in case the 2018 elections are going to be conducted on time and
hold off a proper delimitation for the 2023 elections.

Source:The Express Tribune: Published: August 29, 2017

WHO STANDS TO LOSE FROM A CENSUS?

remuneration packages for young doctors in the province. Many argue,
however, that the doctors are largely after the jobs on offer in urban centres
and the government has been unable to push highly-trained professionals
into semi-urban and rural areas.

Crucially for Punjab, though, the inter-provincial water accord will have to be
reworked since the province’s current share in agriculture will need to be
reassessed. Due to population variance in central and southern Punjab, we
may also see relations between the two get strained.

In Pakistan, policy has largely had an anti-poor bias and Punjab has been no
exception. The road transportation network has been developed to suit the
city’s commuting needs rather than improve the lot of its under-privileged
dwellers. In theory, policy objectives are to prioritise socio-economic
development in various administrate units but in practice, housing and food
remain at the bottom rung of government priorities.

But for these to become pressing concerns, someone will have to give up
their existing privileges and perks. In Punjab, this burden is likely to be
shouldered by its bureaucracy and hence the reluctance to have a housing
and population census conducted afresh.

KP’s bureaucracy

The census assumes greater significance in KP because it allows the
government to take stock of what has survived in the embers of war, how
many people have lived, and how many perished to militancy. The move to
make Fata as part of KP is also welcome as it brings tribal areas into the
national mainstream. This has great political advantages: the swell in
population numbers will allow the province to have more seats in the
National Assembly, enjoy a larger share in the NFC Award, and have
integrated governance.

But for KP’s bureaucrats, any such move will need to come with separate
funds for Fata’s development, which are not drawn from the province’s
existing budget. The federal government’s proposal to cut the size of
the FDP is meant to allay these concerns: if the other provinces give up
their share, some of the money will then be redirected to the development
of Fata. Till now, Sindh and Balochistan have strongly resisted the move.

Meanwhile, Aftab Sherpao, chief of the Qaumi Watan Party and an ally
of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, claimed last week that a conspiracy to
undermine the “Pakhtun majority” in the country’s population was being
hatched by the federal government. He termed any attempt to do so to
be worse than rigging in national polls.

Balochistan’s Baloch

Two chief ministers — Sanaullah Zehri and his predecessor Dr Malik Baloch
— have resisted a census in Balochistan. Their argument: the Baloch
cannot be allowed to become an ethnic minority in Balochistan. In such an
eventuality, it would be difficult to allay the concerns and reservations of
Baloch nationalists who have been alleging that the centre has historically
been unfair to them.

Balochistan’s population is largely divided between the Baloch and Pakhtun,
with a significant minority of Hazara and Punjabi populations. But it’s the
Baloch and Pakhtun that are face to face when it comes to benefitting from
resource allocation in the province. The Pakhtun belt in northern Balochistan
now witnesses the gradual encroaching of Pakhtun people in all spheres of
life, much to the chagrin of Baloch nationalists. The Baloch concern is that
the inclusion of over a million Afghan refugees, many of whom carry
Pakistani CNICs, will further marginalise the native Baloch.

As mentioned earlier, the issue is serious enough to draw Mir Hasil Bizenjo’s
ire. Despite being the incumbent federal minister for ports and shipping,
his argument to delay the census in Balochistan and KP is, in fact, a move to
ensure that the Baloch are not counted as an ethnic minority in Balochistan.

Urdu-speaking populace of Karachi

When the Advisor to Sindh Chief Minister on Information Maula Bakhsh
Chandio urged Urdu-speaking and other migrant communities to describe
themselves as “Sindhi” in the census, it touched a raw nerve in many of
Karachi’s political circles. Some Sindhi nationalists have been loathe to
consider the Urdu-speaking people as “new Sindhis” and this dynamic has
historically resulted in greater acrimony between Sindhi nationalist parties
and parties of Mohajir nationalism.

The response in Karachi was the distribution of leaflets urging the “Mohajir”
people to stick together to safeguard the future of their next generation,
and to ensure that “no Sindhi wadera can usurp their rights in Karachi.”
These leaflets urged the Urdu-speaking, the Memoni-speaking and the
Gujarati-speaking to register themselves as “Urdu-speaking.”

As per the census data of 1981 and 1998, the proportion of the Urdu-
speaking population in Sindh declined from 24.1 percent to 21 percent.
During the same period, the Sindhi-speaking population of Sindh rose
from 55.7 percent to 59 percent. Given their higher level of education
and consequently lower birth-rates, Sindh’s Urdu-speaking population’s
proportion is expected to go down further to below 20 percent. At the
same time, the influx of Pakhtuns into Karachi is also challenging the
characterisation of Karachi as a ‘Mohajir’ city.

In 1998, 48.52 percent of the entire population of Karachi Division
mentioned Urdu as their mother tongue. Punjabi claimed 13.94 percent,
Pashto speakers were 11.42 percent and Sindhi speakers were 7.62
percent. But between 1972 and 1998, some 3.8 million migrants were
added to the city and constituted about 40 percent of the total reported
population of 1998. Of the 2.15 million migrants between 1981 and 1998,
40 percent were from Punjab and the NWFP. Of the total migrant
population, 43 percent were illiterate and 58 percent were male. About
91 percent of those who migrated to Sindh between the two census
periods of 1981 and 1998 settled in urban Karachi.

The Swat Operation, the floods of 2010, and the ongoing Operation
Zarb-i-Azb further inflated the rate at which migrants arrived in Karachi
from up-country and interior Sindh. The results of the 2017 census, in
all probability, will radically redefine the demographic composition of
Karachi with far-reaching impact on the politics of Karachi and in turn
Sindh.

These factors will inevitably impact the politics of all factions of the
“Mohajir” leadership and will be reflected in their dealings and negotiations
with other political parties at the provincial and national levels. It is
envisaged that the results of the 2017 census will compel Karachi’s
traditional ’Mohajir’ leadership to devise ways to coexist and negotiate
with other stakeholders. The electoral rolls, if modified in the light of
census results, will empower migrant communities to redefine the city’s
politics through the potential of their swing votes.

The 2017 census will, in all probability, also disturb the rural-urban
equation in different spheres, including job quotas. In 1998, Sindh’s
urban population totalled 30,439,893, which amounted to 48.8 percent
of the total provincial population. Karachi’s total population (five districts)
in 1998 was shown as 9,856,318 (32.4 percent of the provincial
population). About 94 percent of these citizens reside in the urban areas
in Karachi. Needless to mention, even Sindhi nationalists remain sceptical,
for the right and some not-so-right reasons, about the transparency and
the eligibility of the census methodology.

Moreover, it is often mentioned that Karachi’s alien population was under-
reported in the 1998 census. Media reports suggest that 75 percent of
the 3.35 illegal immigrants (2.5 million) in Pakistan made Karachi their
abode. Those need to be accounted for in the census and their interaction
with the city and its various actors needs to be studied — this will help
explain the dynamics of poverty and the modus-operandi of a powerful
informal sector that is responsible for the de facto management of the city.

Patriarchs and conservative Pakistan

President Donald Trump isn’t the only one seeing the rise of women as
agents of change. If the 2017 census goes ahead as planned, the women
factor in Pakistan will become substantial in all matters of society, politics
and planning.

It is interesting to note that 47 million women were added till 1998 to the
women population of 1951 which was 15.6 million. Some 22.7 million
women were added between the two census periods of 1981 and 1998,
and this addition alone is greater than the actual women population
reported in the census period of 1961-1951. The women population in
the 1981 census was recorded as 40 million but with these additions,
this number swelled to 62.7 million.

Though the per annum growth rate is moving down the curve but women’s
share in the total population has increased from 46.22 percent in 1951
to 48.05 percent in 1998. It is worth noting that from 1972 onwards,
while the base population of men for each census year is greater than
women, the increase in the population of women is always greater than
their male counterparts. In all probability, the trend of a narrowing gender
gap will continue in the 2017 census.

But there are other interesting associated trends that will also be verified
in the census. A perusal of other indicators reveals that there is a sharp
decline in women’s marriage rates, an upward shift in the age at which
women marry, an increase in literacy rates, an increase in higher educational
attainment and an increase in divorce rates between the census periods of
1981 and 1998 at the national level. It means that there is a real transition
taking place in the priorities of Pakistani women. The desire for job security
is slowly replacing the earlier concept of security associated with marriage.
It is envisaged that these trends will be more observable in the results of the
2017 census all across small towns and big cities of the country.

We are often told that change is incremental. But when counting heads and
homes after 19 long years, change will seem to be monumental. This will be
an illusion of sorts — had we had the census back in 2008, changes to
Pakistan’s society and polity would not be registered as an upheaval. The
2017 census is expected to turn the tables on the existing status quo and
urge policy makers to rethink their paradigms and priorities. Whether they
shall do so remains open to debate.

The writer is a freelance researcher with a special interest in demographic
and societal changes in Pakistan. Connect with him at mansooraza@gmail.com



SOURCE:DAWNN.COM,1/29/2017

The political consequences of a hasty census

AUGUST 29, 2017 EDITORIAL

Talks are the way out

The PML-N government had shown little keenness to hold the census till the
Supreme Court pushed it to fulfill a constitutional obligation. What took place
was no more than a headcount minus the collection of vital socio-economic
data regarding changing needs of society, availability of resources to different
areas, internal migration, mortality, fertility, disabilities and other social
indicators. Right from day one there were complaints from political parties
about the shortcomings of the exercise. Most vocal were the Baloch nationalists –
who wanted the exclusion of the Afghan refugees prior to the start of the census.

The census has made interesting findings. The population growth in Punjab has
lagged behind all provinces. It will be the only province to lose its previous
share in NFC Award and in National Assembly seats. The gainers are KP and
Balochistan – on account of their population growth ratio. Sindh’s share in the
total population increased marginally from 23 percent to 23.4 percent and the
province would neither be a loser nor a gainer. Another remarkable finding is
that the urban population in Sindh has increased from 48.75 percent in 1998
to 52.02 percent in 2017. Karachi’s population has grown close to 60pc to
reach 14.91m, while Lahore’s population has more than doubled to 11.13m
from 5.14m.

The findings have drawn strong reaction from PPP Sindh and MQM-P which
has accused the federal government of conspiring to reduce the population
figures of Sindh. But had there been a conspiracy, Punjab would not have
been a loser. There were already reports that migration to Karachi had
slowed down due to the law and order situation while it had increased in
the case of Lahore.

While the PPP and MQM agree that Sindh’s population has been artificially
undercounted, they differ on the urban-rural share of population. The PPP
is reluctant to accept the census results as these would reduce its represen-
tation in Sindh Assembly, the Senate and NA. Khurshid Shah’s suggestion
to compare the data collected by the statistics division and the Pakistan
Army needs to be given a try to resolve the issue.

SOURCE:PAKISTAN TODAY, 29/08/2017

Census woes and vows

By Dr Pervez Tahir


pervez.tahir@tribune.com.pk

The most remarkable thing about the latest census is that it has, at long last,
been held. Thanks to judicial activism, supported on the ground by the deploy-
ment of the jawans of the army and the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics led by
Asif Bajwa, we now know how many we are, men and women, in urban and
rural areas, and in provinces and districts. This is useful information for a
government interested in public welfare. However, the only positive role of
the federal government is that it did not stand in the way of releasing the
census data.

The Punjab government and the political parties with the main bases in Punjab
also deserve credit for not making any noise about the reduced share of the
province’s population in the national total, despite the fact that the 7th NFC
award reduced the weight of population and now the proportion of population
itself has decreased. There is also no celebration in that province of the relative
success of its population programme.

But woe betide those responsible for increasing or not increasing enough of
the population to the rest of the provinces! Sindh’s population share in the
national total has stayed almost the same, leaving its share of resources and
electoral constituencies unchanged. However, the significant reversal of rural-
urban shares witnessed the urban-based parties vowing never to accept the
census result that shows an increase far less than they perceived. And a woeful
rural-based party vows to reject the census result for the opposite reason —
the decrease in the proportion of the rural population. The battle of electoral
constituencies and quotas is gripping the province. Even in the provinces
experiencing an increased share in total population — Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa
and Balochistan — the census woes and the vows against are no less common.
In Balochistan, the Baloch-Pashtun balance has been disturbed by the
perceived addition of the Afghans. In Khyber-Paktunkhwa, most concerns
relate to Fata that seems to have been undercounted, mainly because of the
difficulties related to the IDPs.

Sadly, while there is a lot of criticism by the political class about the under-
enumeration of their constituents, the same class is virtually silent about the
dismal demographic picture painted by the census results. Only a few months
ago The Pakistan Economic Survey 2016-17 claimed: “A constant improvement
in health and education indicators along with effective population welfare
programs, the population growth is persistently declining. It was 1.92 in 2015
which declined to 1.89 in 2016 and 1.86 in 2017.” As we know now, the average
annual growth of population since the last census has been much higher at 2.4
per cent. This makes a mockery of the claims made about the effectiveness of
population, health and education programmes. Between the censuses of 1981
and 1998, the annual average growth rate of population was 2.7 per cent. In
19 years, there was a reduction of a mere 0.3 percentage point.

No census can be perfect. The latest census is no exception. However, just as
the cure to democracy is more democracy, there is no alternative to a census.
Suggestions for improvement are better left for the next round. It will be a
good idea to hold the next one in 2021 to return to the historical ten-year
cycle. In the meantime, the political class should tell us in their party
manifestoes for the coming elections about the concrete plans they have to
address the utter failure of the social sector in the intercensal period. Instead
of the woes about undercounting, they should vow to ensure a better and
timely census in future.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 9th, 2017.


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