ISLAMABAD: In a high-level meeting chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) has announced the closure of the census field operation for the 7th Population and Housing Census, heralding the successful completion of the country’s first-ever digital census.
The decision was made in recognition of the importance of accurate data collection and analysis for evidence-based policy planning and improved service delivery.
The field operation, which commenced on 1st March 2023 and proceeded without any interruptions, reached its culmination on 15th May 2023. The PBS expressed its pleasure in announcing the completion of this milestone in Pakistan’s demographic history.
As part of the closing process, the data collected during the census will undergo verification and validation to ensure complete coverage within the next 15 days. All census district officers, acting as crucial pillars of the operation, will provide completion certificates in the prescribed format. Upon receipt of these certificates, payments will be disbursed to the diligent census field staff by the deputy commissioners (DCs) and assistant commissioners (ACs), as per the decision of the Census Monitoring Committee.
It is worth noting that the headcount data from restricted areas, including those belonging to the armed forces, as well as collective residences, will be incorporated into the population counts of their respective blocks. Moreover, the PBS is committed to addressing citizen complaints regarding non-coverage.
These complaints can be lodged and resolved until 30th May, 2023 at Citizen Service Centers (CSCs) and PBS Call Centers (0800-57574). It is essential for complainants to provide their National Identity Card (NIC) numbers and requisite information for prompt redressal.
To ensure data quality, a verification process will continue through the application of modernised techniques such as Computer Assisted Telephonic Interview (CATI). Respectable citizens are encouraged to cooperate with the verification team by verifying their data through randomly generated CATI calls.
In line with the commitment to accurate analysis, a committee of renowned demographers has been established to examine the census data for any departures from normal trends.
The National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) and the Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) will contribute technical assistance through forensic audits to rectify any instances of underreporting or overreporting.
The Demographers Committee will analyse the census data using demographic techniques, taking into account forensic reports and ground realities. The committee will subsequently finalise its recommendations for the consideration of the Census Monitoring Committee.
It is important to note that the population counts currently being reported in the media are provisional and subject to change. Modifications will be made to ensure data synchronisation, incorporate restricted areas and collective residence aggregated counts, account for leftover structures, and align with the recommendations approved by the Demographers Committee and Census Monitoring Committee.
The PBS expressed profound gratitude to the citizens of Pakistan who actively participated in the census, fulfilling their moral and legal obligations.
The successful implementation of the digital census is expected to pave the way for evidence-based policy planning, safeguarding citizens’ rights, and ensuring better service delivery—a vital step towards a prosperous nation.