All-out efforts being made for transparent census: Dar

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APP31-16 ISLAMABAD: April 16 – Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar briefing media about progress of Housing and Population Census. APP photo by Saeed-ul-Mulk

ISLAMABAD, April 16 (APP): Finance Minister Muhammad Ishaq Dar on Sunday said all-out efforts were being made to ensure transparency and credibility of the 6th population and housing census being held under the supervision of Pakistan Army.
Addressing a press conference here with Chief Census Commissioner Asif Bajwa, he congratulated the census staff, army personnel, all provincial chief ministers and the nation on the successful completion of the first phase of the census.
The minister said the first phase had been completed in 63 districts and the second one would start on April 25 and continue for a month.
The information and data gathered through the extensive census exercise would be made public after its compilation that would take a couple of months further, he added.
The minister said in 1998, it was also the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government that had conducted the population census under the leadership of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and again the credit went to it for holding the 6th national census.
He said the current census was being held after 19 years, which,
otherwise, should have been conducted after every 10 years. The
government had decided to conduct the census in 2016, but due to the operation Zarb-e-Azb and reservations of the stakeholders, it was
postponed.
Paying tribute to those martyred during the exercise, he said the government had announced compensation for their heirs.
Ishaq Dar said during the first phase, around half of the country’s population and families had been counted.
He said around 172,000 staffers took part in the first phase and hopefully the second phase would also be completed successfully.
The minister said the prime minister had tasked his Special Assistant Khawaja Zaheer to help resolve the problems confronted by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics during the exercise from time to time.
To a question, he said census in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) would be held in the second phase as had been requested by the parliamentarians from the region.
Ishaq Dar said around 75 per cent internally displaced persons had returned to their homes as the government was extending full assistance to them, including transportation charges.
Regarding Awaran and Kech districts of Balochistan, he said census would also be carried out in those districts.
He said all the expenses on the census exercise were being incurred under the set rules. Due to the country’s security situation, army personnel’s deployment was necessary for smooth census operation, he added.
To another question, the minister said six teams of the international observers, who were monitoring the census, had expressed their satisfaction over its credibility and transparency.
He said the nation should reject all the rumours about the transparency and credibility of the census.
He said he had received a letter from the Sindh chief minister expressing his reservations on the census, which, however, had been addressed up to his satisfaction.
The census results could not be changed according to anyone’s desires, he added.Chief Census Commissioner Asif Bajwa said total Rs 18.5 billion was allocated for the census operation with Rs 6 billion each for the civilian staff and the army personnel, and Rs 6.5 billion for the transportation of the staff and material.
He said in the second phase the census would be carried out in 87 districts and completed in a period of 30 days.
Each numerator, he said, had been assigned two blocks. Each block would be completed in 14 days with first three days for house listing, 10 days for form-2 and the last day for enumeration of homeless population, he added.
He said an army personnel accompanied each enumerator supported by local police and civil armed forces.
Asif Bajwa said in phase one, held from March 15 to April 15, census was carried out in 63 districts in all the provinces where 80,702 blocks were enumerated in 188 census districts.
He said during phase two, approximately 43,950 enumerators would be engaged in 87,823 blocks.
He said the filled-in ICR forms from Mardan, Swabi, Charsada and Nowshera districts had received at the PBS headquarters in Islamabad.
He said around 200,000 army personnel had been deployed on census duty. Some 44,000 of them were for enumeration work with 5 per cent reserve staff and the rest were used for provision of security to the field staff in addition to the civil armed forces and police, he added.
He said census teams had received very enthusiastic support from the public across the country as people offered them tea, cold drinks and food.
Asif Bajwa said the census operation carried out till date had been generally acceptable to all segments of the population with no boycotts reported. The outstanding support was extended by the provincial governments, district administrations and the armed forces. Enumerators and other field staff showed an exemplary dedication, he added.
He said an unfortunate incident occurred in Lahore on April 4 when a suicider attacked a military census team, killing four personnel and three passersby, and injuring 19 others.
An enumerator, he said, died in a road accident in Mansehra district on March 16 while two others kidnapped from Kech area were still missing. A Charge Superintendent died of heart attack while on duty on April 2, he added.
To a question about complaints, he said total 4,337 complaints had been received at federal and provincial control rooms, which were addressed satisfactorily.