KARACHI, Mar 20 (SABAH): Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has challenged the ongoing population census in Sindh High Court (SHC).
The PPP petitioned the Sindh High Court on Monday to challenge the procedures put in place during the ongoing census and sought disclosure of all data collected during the process.
The petition was filed against the federal government, as well as other parties, over alleged irregularities in the census procedure.
PPP approached Sindh High Court to challenge the process and procedure of population census saying that it is a conspiracy to show lesser count of the real residents of Sindh.
The petition filed by Senator Farhatullah Babar and Mola Bukhsh Chandio argues that Articles 2, 4, and 19 of the constitution are being violated in the ongoing population census as those residing in Sindh as well as the foreigners are being counted as permanent residents of the province.
This would be dangerous for national unity, federation, and political stability of the country. The petition pleads for impartial staff for census and only the Pakistanis and the real residents of Sindh should be counted.
In addition, the houses that remained uncounted should be numbered in the house count and measures should also be taken to stop second and third registration. In case of erroneous input seeking information again should be allowed and an online complaint cell should be formed to redress complaints.
PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar told reporters after submitting the petition that the party has reservations over the procedures put in place for the census.
“Access to information is our basic right; however, several important categories of information have been labelled as confidential in the census,” Babar complained.
“The data collected in the census should be posted on a website immediately so the people can know how many houses have been marked in the house counting process,” he added.
He said he feared the people would remain unaware of the data collected on them and all information would be sent to Islamabad. He added that all citizens should be provided a copy of their information so they can tally the data at a later stage.
Farhatullah Babar said Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa have also expressed their concerns pertaining to head count.
He said every segment of society is expressing concern. PPP wants transparency in process of population census. Important information should be uploaded on website whereas a mechanism should be crafted to address complains.
It is pertinent to mention here that first national census in 19 years kicked off last week amid tight security from around 200,000 military personnel.
A 70-day data gathering operation, starting in 63 districts and protected by police and soldiers, is being carried out by 118,000 officials.
The previous census was completed in 1998 and the long delay in updating it is down to a lack of funds, political disputes and insufficient troops to keep everybody involved safe.
But in December last year the Supreme Court set a deadline of March or April, saying a census is essential to democracy, seats in parliament are allocated according to population density and without a census the number of seats cannot be decided.
Rural populations in the world’s sixth-largest country frequently change as people try to escape poverty and ethnic or sectarian violence by moving to towns and cities.
The security staff is protecting census teams and ensure households can enter data without being intimidated by powerful feudal landlords and political families who fear losing influence.
Other communities have criticized the decision to include only nine of the estimated 70 languages used in Pakistan.
Households will also be asked how many toilets they have, as the United Nations estimates up to 40% of Pakistanis defecate in the open air with dramatic health consequences, especially for children.
In a sign of how much has changed since the previous census, Karachi’s population was put at 9.2 million in 1998, but current estimates now vary between 18 and 23 million, according to the National Database and Registration Authority.
It may be mentioned that MQM has rained complaints over the issue earlier and two days ago Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah had hinted at approaching court over the issue during his Sehwan visit.