In a recent development, Government of Pakistan has announced to hold population census in March 2016 – apparently with the help and support of armed forces. The cost of what would be divided between provinces through federal divisible pool. If this actually happens unlike previous (verbal) attempts then Pakistan will finally have its population (and housing) census being conducted after almost a period of 18 years. Fingers crossed!
No doubt, it is a severely important task that has been overdue for an extremely long period of time. In fact, current population estimate as in population clock at Population Census Organisation website is nothing more but an abstraction. It may not be even any closer to any real figures once they arrive after announced census survey is practically conducted. Not only it will make a huge difference in administrative controls but as well as it will passively help in resource management and better future planning in many areas – especially in national security.
Easier said then done however. The population census itself won’t make much difference other than having a better population figure in hand. There may be other important factors that need to be addressed in advance to preparation of announced census and as part of continuing work afterwards. These factors include clearing out the obsolete data, making sure that every head is counted etc. Even this may be a good opportunity to make sure that every eligible citizen has a valid Computerised National Identity Card (CNIC) or birth certificate. Also not to miss to collect the statistics that can vastly help in many ways in upcoming years. Nevertheless, despite being a country with one of the largest biometric databases of its citizens, dire need of at least one comprehensive census survey cannot be denied.
Last year (2014), we published a project that deals with public data collection – in fact more as a resource centre. A sub-project of this initiative – called PK Census – deals with population census data. This is basically a repository of census data in various machine readable formats. Ironically, this could not include a lot of census data since only available census data was from population census held in 1998.
Originally housing and population census were supposed to and were held every ten years regularly – from first population, and housing census in 1951 to 1981 – except only time in 1971 when census were delayed for an year due to war. The next census chore – expected in 1991 – massively delayed due to political and domestic issues until March 1998. The exercise to delay this critical task kept delaying for upcoming years. Next scheduled census for 2008 were again postponed to 2010 and further. There were few speculated figures during this period about increase of population, precisely to be 16.9% but were not very reliable. Therefore, census survey of 1998 is the most authentic or reliable data till date. Ironically data from census survey of 1998 is practically obsolete for any reliable use.
However, Pakistan Population Census Organisation website has a lot of information about a scheduled census survey for 2011. There are lots of tasks from this survey that are still pending, and according to their due dates, they were supposed to be done at different times between 2011 and 2014. There is also some information about a seminar on census of 2011 which gives a detailed schedule of the day but does not provide an actual date/day when this seminar was held or supposed to.
We hope that this time, this announcement shapes into a practical format and a census & housing survey is conducted. It is very important in many aspects where these figures can help in better resource management, governess, security and public itself. We are definitely looking forward to all new data set and can’t wait to share it with you all.