ISLAMABAD: A meeting of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday has decided to postpone the national population census.
The CCI had earlier decided to hold the next census by March/April under the supervision of the army. But sources privy to the developments in the meeting today told Geo News that the decision to delay the census was taken based on three major reasons.
Source said that the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), responsible for holding the census, informed the council that the required number of army personnel and teachers was not available.
There are a total of 166,801 blocks all over the country needing 375,000 soldiers to carry out the population counting exercise. But the meeting was informed that this number of army personnel cannot be spared by the army at the moment as troops are currently deployed for the ongoing Operation Zarb-e-Azb.
A second reason for delaying the census was that the process of registration of Afghan refugees had not been completed as yet.
There are estimated to be over 2.5 million Afghan refugees living in Pakistan whose registration cards have expired or who remain unregistered. According to sources, the registration of Afghan refugees has been a major point of contention for provinces, especially Balochistan, which has refused to allow the holding of census before counting Afghan nationals is completed.
A third factor put forth during the meeting was the unavailability of government teachers, who would be required to carry out duties during the census.
Sources said that the meeting, led by the prime minister, decided to postpone the census bases on these reasons.
The new date of the population census will be announced after consultation with provinces, said the sources. The next meeting of the CCI has now been scheduled for March 25.