KARACHI, Aug 22 (APP):Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Senator Taj Haider has expressed concern over the digital census saying that his party’s central election cell has received disturbing reports about the undercount of the population from sources located in different provinces.
He said that Initial computations in the province of Sindh reveal that the damage done to the province of Sindh as a result of the so-called ‘Digital Census’ is far bigger than what was initially feared and warned against when we now look at the population figures published in the Gazette notification of August 7, 2023”, a communique said here on Tuesday.
Sindh, which remains the destination of economic migrants from other provinces, Gilgit Baltistan, and Azad Kashmir, besides a large number of illegal migrants, has been allotted an average family size (AFS) of a mere 5.64. Punjab has an average family size of 6.43, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 6.94, and Baluchistan 6.42.
He noted that the reduction of just one person in average family size results in a reduction of 18 to 20 % in the total population of Sindh.
He further said there were only four districts in Sindh, two of them urban in Karachi where the average family size is above six where rest of it in rural Sindh have less than that. All districts in Punjab (except Lodhran AFS 5.95) have an average family size well above 6. The lowest family size in Sindh is in Badin 4.89 and Dadu 5.11 both PPP strongholds. Ghotki has an average family size of 5.35. Adjacent Rahim Yar Khan District in Punjab has an average family size of 6.72.
Senator Taj Haider said the reports were alarming received from the provinces of Baluchistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa that even when no enumeration had been carried out in remote and sensitive areas of both provinces the notified population figures of various districts were significantly less than the ones that had been readily available in the digital census.
In Sindh where such data was mostly available the figures of houses and residents in many districts obtained in the much trumpeted ‘digital census’ count had been arbitrarily reduced by almost 10 percent in the notified census figures. One fails to understand any kind of logic behind this move except forced rigging.
The reduction in average family size has also been reinforced by a drastic reduction in the number of population blocks which in Sindh are only 43,838. Official figures of the population of each block have not been made public.
According to Law, the number of families per block has to range between 250 to 300. Dividing block populations obtained from other sources by Sindh’s average family size of 6.5 given in Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) conducted by UNICEF one finds hundreds of blocks where the number of families per block is 800 to 1000. There are some blocks where the number of families touches 2,500.
If we just multiply the reduced number of population blocks (43,838) with the MICS average family size figure of 6.5 and the least figure of 300 families per population block the minimum population of Sindh by simplest calculation works out to be 85, 484, 100, he maintained.
The revenue assignment to Sindh of 1,255 billion as part of Federal transfers would go up by a minimum of 500 billion if it was calculated on these minimum population figures of Sindh.
We need these rightful allocations for rebuilding 2 million homes, putting solar panels on 2.1 million houses, redesigning and reconstructing devastated irrigation infrastructure and roads, providing free medical and educational services, and making productive investments in order to create more employment opportunities.
Senator Taj Haider pointed out that in late 2021 a department of the Federal Government had constituted a 13-member advisory committee which did not have any demographers from Sindh and only one representative each from Baluchistan and KPK.
In the working paper that this Committee prepared in January 2022 de-jure method of counting instead of the de facto method was recommended. The government of Sindh continued to hold meetings with the Federal Government and registered their protest through many letters. But the protests fell on deaf ears.
Holding General Elections within the constitutionally mandated time remains our top priority at present. But if somebody thinks that the provinces will put up with the reduced figures of the population he is grossly mistaken.
Senator Taj Haider said that an internationally recognized statistical method has to be mutually worked out to correct the fraudulent census figures.