Muhammad Faheem

Pakistan Bureau of Statistics today has started Seventh Housing and Population census process across Pakistan, including Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The census process is divided into two parts; in the first part the citizens have been given an option to self-enumerate through the specially designed portal.

While in the second phase, house-to-house census will be conducted by more than 120,000 enumerators using tablets and mobiles, which organizers say will make the process more credible, accurate and transparent.

The first phase has been named self-enumeration for which abovementioned portal has been set up on the website of the Statistics Authority for two weeks in which every citizen can register his/her data. This process started for two weeks on February 20. It will continue till March 3.

What is the self-enumeration portal?

To log in to the self-enumeration portal, every citizen has to register through a mobile number. At first, the head of the household will first be registered; his age, gender, religion, mother tongue, educational qualification, medium of education and highest education attained by the head of the household will be entered.

In the next step, the data of source of livelihood, job and its nature, place of birth/name of the city, the cities in which one resides, and the city in which one is currently residing, while the details of physical disability must also be entered in the same form.

After the head of the household, the data of the remaining persons in the household has to be submitted and the same details have to be submitted for each resident of the household.

After personal information, details of the house shall be given: period of construction, material of construction, supply of drinking water and its source, washroom facility, electricity and gas facility, kitchen, sewage, mobile, television, newspapers and details of the person residing abroad must be submitted.

After completing this process, a UTN number will be issued by the statistics agency. This number will be useful when the statistics team goes to the citizen’s home. At that time, the citizens will not need to submit all the details. With the help of UTN number, all the details will be entered in the team’s tablet and after verification; he will submit it as final.

Online data entry may be time-consuming for every citizen, but it will save time for the team visiting a citizen’s home.

What is a digital census?

In Pakistan, the census that started today from March 1 has been named digital census because this time around, data is not being collected on paper like it was done in the past, while the teams have been given tablets in which they will enter the data from the same place. .

Economic data has also been included in this digital census, while the data to be collected in the first census of its kind in Pakistan will not be limited to individuals but will also include the economic status of the citizens and the facilities available to them so that plans can be made in this regard in the future.

According to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, the Bureau of Statistics is moving towards digitization of records, and about 126,000 tablets have been purchased and 121,000 enumerators have been trained. It will also geo-tag structures, hospitals, schools and other facilities in each census block to facilitate data-driven planning and development in the country for the first time and make the data public.

Pakistan has not conducted a single economic census till date. An economic census provides a detailed picture of the number of employees, income, etc. In the previous census exercise in 2017, concerns were raised about the data collected by the provinces. Iran and Egypt took two years to plan their digital census and then conducted several pilot testing before launching process, while Pakistan started working on its digital census in September 2021 and has conducted only one pilot testing so far. .

Statistics Bureau has admitted that the digital census is a major exercise and requires timelines, but every effort will be made to complete the process by April 30.

Was Census intended to be started from March 1?

The seventh census across the country was planned to be conducted in July last year, but the change of government in April created political and economic instability in the country, leading to uncertainty in the country and the conduct of the census. The matter was shelved, but the government resumed work on it in October and it was planned to start in December.

No schedule was issued in this regard, the reasons could not be given and again this census was delayed and finally a schedule was issued to start the census from February 1, but this promise could not be fulfilled.
In view of the reasons, the 7th census across the country was delayed for one month. The field operation was announced to start from March 1 instead of February 1. All the preparations were final and the training process was also completed by the Statistical Institute.

As per the schedule, field operation was scheduled from February 1st to March 4th, but due to unavoidable circumstances, it was changed.

According to the Bureau of Statistics now, the field operation will start from March 1st and will be completed by April 1.

Why is this census necessary for the upcoming general elections?

As per the Constitution of Pakistan, the census will be conducted across the country after 10 years, however, Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa objected to the census in 2017, after which, in January 2021, the Council of Common Interests headed by then Prime Minister Imran Khan approved holding the next general elections under the new census.

Therefore, the new elections will be held under the new census, the statistics agency will collect the data and it will be collected in three levels, the data will be collected at the tehsil level, division and provincial level. Provincial commissioners will supervise all this process.

Currently, the Election Commission has completed the constituencies based on the 2017 census, but after the completion of the census, this data will be provided to the Election Commission by April 30, after which the Election Commission will re-define the constituencies on the basis of results of the new census.

Election Commission is bound to conduct elections according to the new data, for which Election Commission needs 3 to 6 months.

To conduct elections based on digital census; this process will be completed from July to September.

However, if the election commission completes the process of delimitation on a war footing basis, the delimitations across the country will be completed by August and after that elections will be held on new constituencies.

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