Census shows Sindh, Balochistan with decline in population

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The initial findings of the ongoing digital population census of 2023 have revealed significant “anomalous results,” particularly in the provinces of Balochistan and Sindh. While some areas have experienced unusual population growth, others have witnessed a decline in population growth.

To address the concerns raised by various political parties, particularly MQM Pakistan regarding Karachi, the government has organized an important briefing session at the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) in Islamabad. On Friday afternoon, 28 political leaders primarily from the political allies of the PDM (Pakistan Democratic Movement) and four chief ministers were invited to address the stakeholders’ concerns. However, no invitation has been extended to PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf) leaders.

In Balochistan, the population growth has surged by 7.8 percent, with certain divisions such as Panjgur, Makran, Rakshan, and others experiencing higher-than-normal growth. Meanwhile, Karachi, a major urban center, has seen a population growth of just 0.4 percent, whereas rural Sindh has witnessed a remarkable growth of nearly 9 percent. Additionally, the preliminary results indicate that the population of Karachi and Lahore are in a similar range, around 16 million.

According to official sources at PBS, abnormal results in specific divisions of Balochistan were noticed during the house listing exercise. The Provincial Census Commissioner of Balochistan and local authorities made efforts to address the situation. However, there are plans to verify the authenticity of the results using satellite imagery from SUPRARCO, NADRA data, and other sources before submitting the results to the Council of Common Interests. To rectify the problematic areas in the provinces, a special committee of demographic experts, chaired by Dr. Zeba Sathar from the Population Council and including experts like Dr. Durre-e-Nayab from the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, has been formed. These demographers have recommended extending the deadline for rectification by an additional 10 days until May 10, 2023.

The initial census results also indicate that the fiscal shares of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) are expected to decrease under the National Finance Commission (NFC) Award, while the shares of Sindh and Balochistan are anticipated to increase. It is worth mentioning that population criteria carry 90 percent weightage in the resource distribution formula within provinces, while poverty, backwardness, area, and other criteria account for only 10 percent.

Experts have repeatedly advised the government to adopt the Indian model, where the resource distribution formula among states is not linked to the population census results. They suggest that this linkage should be eliminated in Pakistan as well to ensure transparent and fair outcomes.


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