Census; yet no consensus

By Noman Wazir.

The function of the state has been just the maintenance of ‘health’. The health can be interpreted in two ways. One is restricted to the physical realm and the other is associated with the metaphysical realm. The physical health of the citizenry can be assured through good law and order situation, and basic needs fulfillment, while the metaphysical health is associated with our intellectualism. It can be achieved through formal and socio-political education.

The prerequisite for the achievement of this goal is proper planning, which cannot be carried out without the detail study of the population and their diverse problems. In Pakistan, the population diverse needs and problems are not considered as important as it has to be in the welfare state. The delayed census is a clear manifestation of it.

Fortunately, now the census has been decided to be carried out in March 2016. But the, consensus has not yet built upon the procedure and the details which should be included in the form. The ethnic communities are voicing their dissent. However, the government seems to be forcing its decision on its subjects. The census should be the collective endeavor of all the stakeholders. If it is carried out without the consensus of the opposing forces then it would not bear the desired fruition.

Recently, the COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa approved 200000 personnel to be deployed for the security and ‘fair’ conduction of the census. However, the current government has shown its inefficiency through this step. The huge economic expense on the national exchequer will be borne by the common man. Consequently, the deployment of personnel will affect the ongoing operations, and Eastern and Western borders will become vulnerable owing to the hostility with our neighbors.

The personnel deployment is not a surety for the fair conduction of the census; however, the consensus among the stakeholder is. Therefore, the government policy of conduction of the census through deployment of personnel to supersede the dissenting voices is against the democratic norms and principles.

So what should be the alternative for the government?

The government should utilize the existing local bodies for the conduction of the census. The benefits of this exercise are manifold.

1) The local government members will take into confidence the population in their respective areas. The people will not feel that they are forced to give details of their family. The fruits of the census will be properly understood by them. Moreover, the people will then realize that government is doing a census for their betterment, which would ultimately result into the strengthening of democracy.

2) The democratic intuitions will be strengthened, because the local government members will learn to communicate with people to enforce the decisions of government through amicable way.

3) The national exchequer will save a lot of public resources, and would be able to divert it in other socio-economic development projects. Notwithstanding, the local body members, if paid less, can work diligently.

4) The military would be able to concentrate on the border security and combing operations. The issue of militancy has not yet been neutralized as the Quetta carnage and the recent Kuram agency killings are the vivid example in support of it.

5) The security issue is no issue for the Local body members because in every village there is the village council. It is comprised of 8 to 15 members. The LG members know each and every individual of their respective constituency. The same is true for cities i.e. neighborhood councils. In only KPK, there are 42000 LG members.

6) The women are also part of the Local bodies. They will be mobilized in this exercise.

7) The census will then be a consensus based and no province and ethnic community will feel that they are underrepresented.

These little things can prepare grounds for the development of democratic institutions. On the contrary, if the government is not sincere with the strengthening of democracy, then they should call upon the military and do the exercise as decided in their kitchen cabinet.

The writer is a socio-political analyst from Fata. He can be reached at nomanwazir75@yahoo.com

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