As the census finishes today, Karachi’s population won’t reach 20 million.
Karachi: There isn’t much chance that the deadline for the population census, which is still going on, will be moved again, so officials think that the final number of people living in the metropolis won’t be more than 19 million when the big exercise is over on Monday (today).
The current census seems likely to show that Karachi’s population is not much more than 16.05 million, which is the official number from the Sixth Population Census of 2017. This raises many important questions, such as how fast the city’s population has grown over the years and how effective the multi-billion rupee exercise has been, since it has caused more problems than it has solved.
“As of the end of the week [May 12], Karachi had a little more than 18.6 million people living there,” a Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) official said, citing statistics collected over the weekend.
“The counting process on weekly holidays (Saturdays and Sundays) usually doesn’t get many results and isn’t always done at full capacity. So there’s no chance that number will grow by a lot in the days left of the count,” he said, adding that he didn’t think there would be any more time past May 15 either.
Even though the deadline was extended many times, census takers had a hard time counting 19 million people.
Last month, the PBS added 15 more days to the end of the census. This was done after ministers, lawmakers, and political party leaders were given a full briefing to ease their worries about the exercise.
It was the fourth time that the deadline for the census had been pushed back since it started on March 1. Political groups with voting rights in Karachi were getting more and more upset, and the population of the city was still the main point of contention after the 2017 census.
Political groups, especially Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan and Jamaat-i-Islami, said that the final number of people living in the city was much lower than the real number.
Results won’t be accepted by MQM-P and JI
Almost all of the votes have been counted, so it will be interesting to see how the parties, including the one that is allied with the Pakistan Democratic Movement, respond.
The JI has already said that it will fight any attempt to put Karachi’s population under 35 million.
“Karachi’s population wasn’t even 16.05 million in 2017,” said JI Karachi chief Hafiz Naeem ur Rehman. “This led to questions, protests, and finally forced the government to do a new census.”
“After spending billions of rupees of public money, you still say that the 2017 census was wrong and that the real number of people living in Karachi is 19 million. Is this funny? Internationally recognized studies, real polls, and dozens of academic studies have all shown that the number of people living in Karachi is much higher than 30 million, but they still want us to accept this number. We wouldn’t let that happen, he said.
He said that the people of Karachi would not agree with this because they now know that political parties are working together against Karachi to take away their rights.
The MQM-P, on the other hand, said it wouldn’t accept the census results because it hasn’t counted all the people who live in city high-rises so far.
In a statement released here on Sunday, the party said that the PBS had missed counting 38,000 high-rise buildings in the city. It said that not even PBS teams from Islamabad were able to do what was needed.
“And all of this is being done to show that a certain ethnic group has more people,” the MQM-P said in a statement.
“The real number of people living in Karachi can grow by a lot if the process of counting is done honestly. The MQM-P won’t agree with the results of this kind of poll. The party will keep shouting until the last person in Karachi is counted. “If necessary, it would also protest in the street and in parliament,” it said.