March 13 , 2017

Census set to start on 15th after 19 years

Wrong information to carry punishment; Afghan refugees to be also counted; DG ISPR says army personnel to visit each house

ISLAMABAD: The process of national census will kick start across the country on March 15 after 19 years. Providing wrong information would carry fine of up to Rs50,000 and possible six-month imprisonment. Afghan refugees would also be counted in the exercise.

Minister of State for Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage Marriyum Aurangzeb in a joint press conference with DG ISPR Major General Asif Ghafoor and Chief Census Commissioner Asif Bajwa here on Sunday, said that physical deployment of staff had been completed to begin the much-awaited 6th National Population Census from March 15, 2017. The minister highlighted that conducting a nationwide census was the 2013 election manifesto of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, which was being fulfilled.

She said the census was scheduled to be conducted in two phases, from March 15 to May 15, with the total budget of Rs18.5 billion. She further specified the budget to be divided as Rs6 billion for the armed forces who would be overseeing the census, Rs6.5 billion for logistics and the remaining Rs6 billion would be used for the civilians to conduct the exercise after a hiatus of 19 years.

"This is a prodigious exercise requiring as many as 118,918 civilian staff and over 200,000 army personnel. We are in a sound state of readiness and preparedness as comprehensive knowledge building and capability enhancement have been conducted through an exhaustive and transparent campaign.”

The minister said the final decision to conduct the exercise was taken during the meeting of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) in December 2016, during which programmes related to assigning roles to the provinces and different departments were also finalised.

Categorising the Census of 2017 as a historic event, she said the census was scheduled for 2016 but was postponed due to engagement of security forces in across-the-country operation against terrorism.

The minister said the census mechanism had been designed to ensure data accuracy and transparency of the whole exercise, which was imperative for provision of social services to the common man, particularly health and education, in accordance with the vision of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

She said that all the persons living in Pakistan would be in scope of the population census, including dual nationals (if in the country on the reference date) and diplomats, adding that the data of diplomats would be obtained from the Foreign Office.

The process, she said, would be conducted simultaneously all across the country. She said for the first time in the history of the country the transgender population would be counted and accounted in the census, while a separate form had been prepared to hold count of the disabled persons and record the nature of their disability.

The minister said a helpline would be operational to provide the people access to the census department in the event if they faced any challenges, had queries or complaints.

The minister, while highlighting the importance of population census, said representation in parliament was based on the population data while the allocation of resources to the provinces and infrastructure development was also based on the population count. "So holding of census is very essential to have such estimates," she added. Dual nationals, who are present in Pakistan at the time of the census, will be included, the minister said.

The Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General, during the joint presser, elaborated that the census would be conducted with the assistance of over 200,000 troops in approximately 168,000 blocks.

He said the soldiers would go door-to-door with enumerators, who with the coordination of National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) would be able to get verification of the data in that particular time.

Major General Asif Ghafoor said the army had created a support plan for the census according to which the military had three tasks i.e. the census was smooth and transparent, and that security and law and order were maintained.

The army would make full security arrangements for the retrieval of filled forms, he added. With help from the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, he said master trainers had trained more trainers at the division level, so that "each soldier is well-trained to undertake the task.”

He said, "It will be a unique activity where an army soldier will go to each house in Pakistan.”

He asked the people to support the army and also cooperate for census. Answering a question, Marriyum Aurangzeb said as per the reports of a Standing Committee of Parliament, 90 percent of the IDPs had returned home while those still outside were also registered, so that they would be included in the population census.

She appreciated the role of the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics for making untiring efforts towards making this much-awaited national exercise to set in. She requested the media to play its due role and provide accurate information to the people and display a positive conduct so that the census was to be carried out in a transparent and seamless manner.

She said an extensive public awareness campaign through print, electronic and social media would be underway in the coming days to ensure that everyone stayed informed and extended maximum cooperation for compilation of error-free and trustable data.



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