Afghans were counted alongside Pakistanis in census: chief census commissioner

ISLAMABAD: One of the reasons for the increase in the country’s population was that Afghan refugees were counted alongside Pakistani citizens, Chief Census Commissioner Asif Bajwa said on Monday.

Addressing a press conference, the chief statistician said the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics would soon announce the actual number of Afghans living in Pakistan. “We will be in a position to estimate the exact number once reports are finalised,” he said, adding that Afghans would be declared “non-locals”.

Since 2005, after getting proof of residence cards, Afghan refugees were allow­ed to live among Pakis­tani citizens. At the time of the 1998 census, all Afghan refugees were living in refugee camps.

According to statistics provided by the UNHCR, around 1.3 million Afghan refugees are currently in Pakistan. But unregistered Afghan refugees are reportedly present in much greater numbers.

Number of disabled decreased since 1998 due to improperly trained staff, says census commissioner

Mr Bajwa said that when Afghans were removed from the total population figure, there might be some variation between the provisional and final census results, which was a routine matter.

In the 1998 census, he said, a variation of 1.5pc was recorded between the provisional and final figures. This, he said, was as per international standards.

Mr Bajwa also said that one million disabled persons were registered during the census 2017, as opposed to 3.1 million in the year 1998.

The lower number of disabled persons was the outcome of improperly trained surveyors. “These figures are not representative figures,” a PBS officer said at the sidelines of the press conference, adding that staff were already in the field when directions were received in this regard from the Supreme Court.

On the issue of using provisional data for the next election, Mr Bajwa said this could only be possible only after an amendment to the Constitution.

He disclosed that the matter was referred to the Inter-Provincial Coordina­tion Committee (IPCC), which would send its recommendations to the Council of Common Interests (CCI).

On the issue of data compilation, he said the provinces were requested to send their teams to inspect the process. “So far, technical teams of three provinces — Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh — have visited the PBS, while no team from Balochistan has arrived so far,” he said.

The Punjab technical team also paid a second visit to the PBS, he said, adding that they had expressed satisfaction over the process.

Mr Bajwa also claimed that three provinces — Punjab, Balochistan and KP — had no reservations over the census process, while Sindh had some objections, which would be addressed.

In response to a question, he clarified that declaration of urban or rural areas was carried out by the provincial authorities and PBS followed the boundaries notified by the provincial governments.

In the case of Lahore, he said that all of the district was notified as an urban area in 2015, and even two union councils of Kasur were included in it, hence its population was recorded at over 11 million.

In case of Karachi, he said that just seven mauzas were considered urban areas, and the boundaries drawn in 1998 were still valid for the city.

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