Planning Minister Asad Umar on Tuesday unveiled the roadmap for the 7th population and housing census, saying that the final results of the count will be announced by December this year and the new elections would be based on it.
"In May-June this year, the government will conduct a pilot test of the census to test the whole process for risk management and disaster recovery, and for successful conduct of digital census," he said while addressing a press conference before inaugurating the National Census Coordination Center (N3C) at the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics in Islamabad.
Umar said the main field work will take place between June and September while they hope to complete post sampling enumeration in November.
"For the first time in [the country's] history, the government is going to hold digital census by utilising the modern technology to save time and ensure transparency and data accuracy," said Umar.
During the current year’s budget, the minister said Rs5 billion was allocated for the census. Around Rs10 billion would be spent on the procurement of software and hardware for conducing digital census, he added.
Briefing on the operation of the census, PBS Chief Statistician Naeem Zafar said the N3C set up would be headed by the Planning Commission deputy chairman with provincial/regional representatives and law enforcement agencies.
He added the Census Support Centres were being established in all 614 Tehsils of the country to conduct the census "smoothly and to avoid complications."
On the road map for the census, the PBS chief statistician said the exercise of appointment of staff would be held in March 2022 while training of field staff for pilot would be done from April 15, 2022 to April 30, 2022.
Similarly the pilot census (2,000 blocks approximately), would be held from May 15 to June 15 while enumeration work (first step-self enumeration) would be done from July 15-30, he added.
"House listing operation (first block) would be held from August 1-3 and the operation for second block would be held from Aug 16-18."
Zafar said face to face interview in first block would be held from Aug 4-15 and the interviews for second block would be held from Aug 19-31.
"Data processing and summary results would be finalised in September-October and the post enumeration survey would be held in November."
The PBS would hand over the summary results to the Election Commission of Pakistan on December 31, he said, adding that the data cleansing, imputation rules and detailed results would be announced in January-February 2023.
Umar stressed the need for holding the census more often. He lamented that the census was "not given due importance in the past."
He was of the view that without a transparent and timely conduct of population census, the resources’ distribution among various areas of the country would not be ensured.
"In order to make this exercise successful, the coordination of the provinces was a must," Umar said.
He also asked the PBS management to share each and every thing about the 7th population census with the media to ensure transparency and to identify any drawbacks.
To a question, the minister said the digital system would be "completely secured" as it would not be internet-based and to further ensure the security, all relevant stakeholders including IT ministry, NTC, NRTG had been taken on board.
He said: "The final results of the census will be announced in December this year, so the government will have 6-7 months more to complete the process of delimitation."
He said it was the requirement of the Constitution to hold the election on the basis of latest population and housing census.
To another query with respect to the opposition’s call of long march and no confidence vote in parliament, the minister said the government did not take such announcements as serious because it had already given multiple dates but "failed in their designs and this time the same would happen."