ISLAMABAD:The federation on Tuesday informed the Supreme Court that they are ready for conducting census but due to non-availability of armed forced it could not be held this year.
Rana Waqar, Additional Attorney General, said the government was making all-out efforts to hold census but without armed forces the census would not be credible. “We need support of armed forces for transparency, credibility and security,” he added.
The AAG told the civil side is ready but as the armed forces are not available due to security reasons therefore census will be held in March/April 2017. He said in the last Council of Common Interest (CCI) meeting held in July, it was decided that the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics will again approach authorities of the army for availability of forces. He said the census will be held in March/April 2017.
Justice Saqib said the last census was held in 1998 and the next was due in 2008 but it was delayed for one or the other reasons. The judge said if the security situation would not improve next year then there will be no census and there will be no latest figures of the population. He said the census is must for the prosperity and future of Pakistan and the government should hold it on war footing for the benefit of the whole nation. A three-judge bench, headed by Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, was hearing the suo motu notice taken by Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali of not holding census in the country despite lapse of eight years.
The AAG informed that the forms have been printed and in view of the Supreme Court observation they have included one column regarding the steps dispensation of justice in the form.
He said approximately 1,67,000 military personnel would be required for the deployment at man-to-man level apart from command structure and security arrangements.
Rana Waqar said the census in the country is held not under any constitutional provision but under the UN Convention. He said as the court had observed in the last hearing that the census could be held in Islamabad and other peaceful areas. He said that under UN Convention the census should be held simultaneously across the country.
Justice Saqib said that UN conventions have force of law. He inquired what would be format of the census. He said it was the responsibility of the federation, which includes executive and the armed forces, to hold census and if it does not perform its duty then the Supreme Court would have to intervene for the protection of fundamental rights.
He said as the census was held despite the lapse of eight years the court therefore took suo motu notice in that regard. “We intend to find out the seriousness of the state,” he added.
Chief Statistician PSB Asif Bajwa informed that the forms have been printed and if the army ready then they could hold the census in three months time because they have to give training to enumerators. The court directed the chief statistician to give complete and comprehensive presentation regarding the preparation to conduct census.
Justice Khilji Arif said in light of the situation it appears that the exercise (census) would not be initiated next year too.
The case is adjourned till October 18.