04/05/2023, 19.59
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Pakistan census extended as minorities demand everyone be counted

by Shafique Khokhar

Data collection will continue until next Monday after questions are raised about omissions and shortcomings. Some groups fear that the census result will not faithfully reflect the country’s demography, like in 2017.

Lahore (AsiaNews) – The Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) has extended the end date of the ongoing census until next Monday, 10 April, in order to complete leftover work.

The process was supposed to be done yesterday, 4  April, but various groups raised concerns that some areas and questions might be left out.

The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), whose volunteers have been monitoring census taking across Pakistan over the past month, urged Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif to extend the process.

“The date must be extended to review and ensure that the issues are addressed immediately and build trust in the process and the final results,” said CSJ executive director Peter Jacob.

Several monitors have reported serious shortcomings, such a poorly trained staff and failure by enumerators to ask key questions concerning disabilities, religious identity, and mother tongue.

The questionnaire itself does not include Kashmiri among the language options, while minority groups fear that the census will not accurately reflect their numbers.

“The current census was initiated after the results of the census 2017 were rejected by mainstream political parties, including religious minorities,” said Ata-your-Rehman Saman, a Christian activist, speaking to AsiaNews.

The PBS should revisit its decision and should address the issues raised by the communities. [. . .]  Otherwise, this activity will not carry and its fate will not be different from the results of the census 2017.”

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