National Forum for Environment and Health’s Moot on census results

Karachi, September 09, 2017 (PPI-OT):While noting that initial census results didn’t at all report Karachi’s population accurately, concerned speakers of a panel discussion demanded that a random census drive should be conducted in at least one per cent area of 14,000 census blocks of the city to check accuracy of recently held 6th population and housing census.

The speakers of the moot said that earlier all scientifically held surveys and estimates including that of Federal Bureau of Statistics had shown that Karachi’s population had well crossed the 20 million mark. So in no way any of the concerned quarters in the city would accept the initial census results, which showed Karachi population at mere 16.51 million.

National Forum for Environment and Health (NFEH) and Environmental Management Consultants (EMC) organized the discussion on initial census results under their “Save Karachi” theme to organize moots on similar socio-economic topics. Some speakers suggest that services of a credible and trustworthy national institution like Pakistan Army should be utilized to do the random sample census activity in Karachi to recheck initial census count of the federal government.

Speaking on the occasion, noted economist Dr. Kaiser Bengali said that a follow-up exercise had to be carried out to verify the initial census results as it showed such anomalies and discrepancies, which could not be ignored by any expert having basic understanding about demographic research and survey methods.

He said it was not at all essential to do the proposed sample census survey under the auspices of the army as the Sindh government with the support of certain specialized agencies could easily do the job to verify initial census results.

He said that federal government was under strict obligation to share with concerned provincial authorities extensive block-by-block data of census results so to check whether or not enumerators had done under-reporting while doing census count in Karachi. In case, the federal government didn’t provide such required data then obvious questions of political nature would surely be raised regarding motives and intentions of the federal census organization.

He said that a government having no ability to conduct population census in a fair and accurate manner could not fully establish its writ in any other sphere of national life. Chief of Muttahida Quami Movement Pakistan Dr. Farooq Sattar said a proper census activity should count each and every person that lives in Karachi irrespective of his or her ethnic or linguistic background.

Dr. Sattar said that every person living in Karachi had to be counted so that he or she became part of the ensuing process of social and political development at the national level. He said that showing population Karachi less than the projected estimates of over 20.5 billion was not the loss of any single community living in the city as it was the collective failure of all ethnic groups living there.

“If in case Pakhtun population in Karachi has tremendously increased in last some years then I have no objection to this phenomenon as this should also be reflected in the census count so that Pakhtun community in the city could get due share for their proportionate electoral representation,” he said.

He said doing rigging in the census process meant that someone had tried to play with the cause of peace, solidarity, and future of Pakistan. Doing such a thing with a city like Karachi meant that it would create repercussions for the entire country as the metropolitan city was rightly considered as the mini Pakistan having representation of all ethnic and linguistic communities of the country.

He said that a fair estimate of Karachi’s population could easily be ascertained if one simply took into account 2.6 million consumers of K-Electric in the city. “If census is not conducted in a fair manner that means our foundations are not properly laid as an incorrect census count would simply serve as the mother of all ailments, injustices, and prejudices,” said MQM Pakistan chief.

Jamaat-e-Islami Karachi chief Hafiz Naeem-ur-Rehman said that as per the all previous estimates Karachi’s population should not be less than 20.45 million. “If we accept Karachi’s population as per initial census count then city needs only 800 million gallons water daily instead of 1255 MGD that is calculated as present day water demand of the city. So accepting such census results simply means usurping the due rights of the city,” he said.

Former Karachi Administrator Captain Fahim Zaman Khan said that Federal Bureau of Statistics had conducted the population census drive in a highly centralized and non-transparent manner while completely ignoring aspirations of the provinces. He said the federal government didn’t properly utilize US $ 12 million grant of United Nations Population Fund for setting up three data processing centres in different cities.

Noted industrialist Dr. Mirza Ikhtiar Baig said that reservations regarding recently conducted census drive had to be allayed as the entire process had become controversial after serious objections had been raised by concerned political parties and non-governmental organizations. He said the process of census should remain free of controversies as distribution of national resources among provinces took place on basis of census data. In case any province didn’t get its due share in national fiscal resources then it would lag behind other provinces.

He said that Pakistan Peoples Party ruling in Sindh had justifiably rejected the initial census results as earlier all logical and scientific estimates had calculated Karachi’s population having crossed the 20 million mark. Senior journalist Mazhar Abbas said that Karachi was no more a manageable and governable city irrespective of its fresh population count. He said that politicians who got the chance to rule the country didn’t establish institutions, which could conduct census drive in a fair manner as army had to be called to supervise the process like many other routine functions of the civilian government.

He said irrespective of the issue that how much less population of Karachi was shown in latest census results than the projected estimates the issue of population had never been considered seriously in Pakistan. He said the demographic make-up of the city had been deliberately and drastically changed in the past so that certain political forces could get the chance of creating and getting widened their vote bank among public.

Mr. Abbas said it was almost impossible to hold a census campaign in the most fair and transparent manner whose results would be acceptable to all the concerned quarters given sharp political divide and ethnic polarization persisting in the city. He said that a fair census could not be held without building trust of people in the system.

Summing up the debate, Sindh Information Minister said that Sind government had serious reservations over the initial census results as it had already rejected preliminary census count of the province. He said that Sindh chief minister had decided to challenge the initial census results in Council of Common of Interests and in superior courts to defend constitutional rights of the province and its people.

He said that billions had been spent on the census drive but such reasonable demands of Sindh government like disallowing use of pencils by enumerators and giving a copy of duly filled census forms to the relevant district administration official of the area were not met by federal authorities. Owing to such unreasonable attitude of the federal authorities concerned, the entire census drive became suspicious and untrustworthy, he said. Nadeem Arif of EMC, Naeem Qureshi of NFEH, and Wasim Aftab of Pak Sarzameen Party also spoke on the occasion.

For more information, contact:
Media Coordinator
National Forum for Environment and Health (NFEH)
309, Al-Sehat Centre, Hotel Regent Plaza, Shahrah-e-Faisal,
Tel: +92-21-35653676, +92-21-35213853
Fax: +92-21-35651797


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