PILAP’s press release expressing strong disappointment at the population census delay was published in several newspapers. Following is the text of the press release that was sent out to various publications:
KARACHI: The Public Interest Law Association of Pakistan (PILAP) would like to express its strong disappointment at the news that the population census has been delayed. It was last year in March that the government had promised to hold a census by March 2016 and it had an entire year to prepare for the exercise.
We at PILAP believe that the arguments being raised by various quarters regarding the security situation in the country and the large presence of illegal immigrants that need to be repatriated hold little water and are only serving to distract. These statements are also coming a little late in the day, as the government has had a year to prepare and arrange for the large number of army troops required to carry out this mammoth, yet crucial task.
The security situation in the country has been unstable for a long time now and was known at the time the government announced that it would conduct the survey. Indeed if an election can be held during uncertain times, as they were three years ago, surely so can a population census. No stakeholder was under any illusion that the situation would remedy itself within a year when the census was announced last year. Furthermore, if the government has the capacity to identify illegal immigrants for repatriation purposes, surely it can identify them for the purpose of the census.
The postponement of the census is yet another glaring display of the government’s inefficiency and incompetence. Yet again the government has failed to create a consensus amongst the provinces and other stakeholders and is now backing out from undertaking this critical exercise.
Updated data on the population is imperative for planning Pakistan’s march to progress and development. Delaying the census by even a few months can have serious repercussions on various aspects of planning and development. However, in the current scenario, the problems will be exacerbated as the delay will have an irreparable impact on the next general election.
It is for this reason that PILAP would like to strongly stress that the government rise to the occasion and take comprehensive and serious steps towards conducting the census as soon as possible, in order to implement plans for development and to ensure that the next general election is held on the basis on the new updated population data.