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CSOs are “worried” about how the first digital population count is “faltering.”

The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) and the Peoples Commission for Minorities Rights (PCMR) are very worried about how the current census is being done. This is the first time in the country’s history that the census is being done online.

At a press conference on Monday, former Punjab minister Ijaz Alam Augustine, CSJ Executive Director Peter Jacob, and Reverend Dr. Majid Abel said that even though the date for the seventh census has been pushed back for the third time, the enumeration and the preliminary data show that staff were not ready or trained.

Jacob, for his part, said, “The way the census has been done has raised serious concerns in the civil society.”

“PBS said that the process will be completely digital, that the staff will be fully trained on how to use the devices, and that there will be no gaps in the counting to make sure everyone is counted, but the reality is different.”

He talked about how important the census is, as well as how it affects society and politics, social justice, and planning and mapping for the future to reach the Sustainable Development Goals.

The CSJ official also said that the group had made many suggestions to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) over the past year to make the process more trustworthy, open, and inclusive.

On March 7, 2023, in Sodiwal, which is in the city of Lahore, officials are gathering information for the digital census. — APP
On March 7, 2023, in Sodiwal, which is in the city of Lahore, officials are gathering information for the digital census. — APP
Concerning the “correct count” of religious minorities, CSJ held a news conference in Islamabad in June 2022 to release a White Paper about the declining population of religious minorities in the last census. This was done to stress the need for a reliable census.

“Yet, PBS didn’t include all of Pakistan’s religious diversity, like the Baha’i and Kailash, which are recognised minorities,” the CSK said in a statement.

PCMR said that PBS had enough time to get ready but ignored the important parts of getting ready.

In the statement, it was said that the CSJ had also helped raise awareness among minority groups and had worked with volunteers in 24 districts to watch and help with the census.

It also told PBS about problems, like the fact that paper was used to collect data, etc. So, PBS needs to push back the date for fixing the process and entering data correctly in order to get results that are reliable and correct.

“The best thing to do would be to share the collected data with the union council and let people figure out who was left out. The trust and its credibility would be hurt even more by a culture of secrecy, so a third-party review of the data compilation would be needed.