Planning Minister Asad Umar claims new census will conclude by 2023 and will be used to conduct the next general elections
Pakistan’s Council of Common Interests on Monday officially approved a population and housing census conducted in 2017, and ordered the launch of a fresh count before the end of this year for the 2023 general elections to overcome controversy over its accuracy.
According to Planning Minister Asad Umar, Punjab, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan approved the census-2017 results, while Sindh rejected them. He told a press conference after a meeting of the CCI chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan that all stakeholders would be taken on board for the new census to assure people it had been conducted transparently.
“The CCI approved census-2017 with a majority vote and also decided that the government will not wait for 10 years to conduct next national census and will hold it immediately,” he said. “The chief ministers of Punjab, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan voted in favor of the approval while the Sindh chief minister voted against the approval,” he added.
Umar claimed that to remove the persistent reservations over the census, the government had decided to launch the 7th national population census by October 2021. “What we had to do was that either to approve or to reject the results, and as the decision of rejection would mean a great loss to the provinces, the CCI has approved with majority vote and decided not to wait for 10 years to hold the next census,” he said, claiming the incumbent government had no option but to approve the results as it had “inherited” the problem from the previous Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) government.
Umar claimed that the framework for the new census would be ready within two months, adding final approval for its conduct would then be sought from the CCI. Once the census has been approved, he said, the exercise would formally commence within four months and would be completed by the start of 2023. “So the next general elections are expected to be held in October or November 2023 and they will be held on the basis of new census results,” he said.
To a question, he said that the new census would span two years and would be funded through allocations in the 2022 and 2023 budgets. It would cost around Rs. 23 billion total, he added.