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Featured Political Dissection on National Census 2017

Discussion in 'Pakistan's Internal Security' started by Horus, Apr 6, 2017.

  1. Horus

    Horus ADMINISTRATOR

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    By | Zain ul Abideen Bangash - In Karachi

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    Pakistan has a political history that is extrapolated on different events that siphoned democracy with military rules and vice versa. That it is rogue and volatile with souring high corruption, nepotism and personal interests, still it provides with a rich background to recollect and flag weak areas of governance and instate the power of accountability and control to mend our ways past the present.

    The state has seen 5 censuses starting from 1951 then 1961, 1972,1981 and 1998. Whereas the Indo-Pak history records the census-taking happening after every ten years starting 1881 in the region, Pakistan conducted the exercise first in 1951 and subsequently further later with imminent delays. This can be attributed to different reasons – political instability and emergency situations e.g., 1971. It is important to understand that the provincial representation in the National Assembly, Civil Service of Pakistan and National Finance Commission (NFC) is derived from the Census statistics. Which shows how important this exercise is in policy making for the state.

    The ongoing census in the country after almost 19 years is much more of a surprise since it met more annihilating challenges on its way to commence; credit goes to the duress exerted by Judiciary and ECP. Nevertheless, the emergence of TTP in our western periphery as an off shoot to the America’s War on Terror, rising number of suicide attacks on soft targets, transiency of military rule to democracy, Political Instability, boiling down of sectarian fault lines all made it a tough deal. Whilst these factors purport not a feasible environment for census, it definitely also doesn’t cut its importance.

    In Dec 2012, an Apex Bench in the Supreme Court of Pakistan, while hearing the case on the situation of law and order in Karachi, stressed the need of redrawing the electoral constituencies. These remarks met a ranting uproar from political quarters such as MQM where its leader and founder Mr. Altaf Hussain via telephone call to his party workers said: “The judges have violated Article 25B of the Constitution which says all citizens are equal in the eyes of the law … the MQM will not let anyone infringe upon the democratic rights of the people.” Also one of his high ranking party official was quoted as saying, “For us, this order is just a manifestation of some greater plan and we will resist it.” Whereas Delimitation Act 1971 states that a census has to be conducted first before delimitation of the constituencies, the sensitivity of holding census brings to light the insecurities prevailing in politics paraphernalia of Pakistan.

    In Sindh, the ruling Pakistan Peoples’ Party has its vote bank shrunk to rural areas of Sindh, whereas the urban centers of the province are witnessing its complete wipe out. MQM, Independent Candidates and, PTI also jostling hard at the very least to grab a share in interior Sindh, have cropped up as political adversaries to the Provincial Status Quo. This is becoming a nightmare for a political party which has also witnessed a very ripping defeat in recent general elections of AJK and, a mere count in once-home constituencies of Punjab, KPK and Balochistan. Moreover, the census is also ringing bells of provincial status quo for it fears that the same effect might also cascade into the rural areas of the province.

    Apparently, urbanization is a social process implying that people usually move from rural areas to urban cities in order to secure better opportunities of education, job and health insurance. How would this turn out if the Census reflects a higher share of households and people in urban areas than the rural compared to the pervious statistics; Obviously this would be a disaster for PPP – a good ground to make the whole thing disputed, and that only in the name of dirty politics which could not even provide a good road infrastructure to the home town of Bhuttos. How strange is all this? Aren’t we just the mute audiences because of our own insecurities too.

    Balochistan has a similar wave of fears rounding off its political atmosphere as Baloch Nationalist Parties like BNP are wary of the fact that a higher number of Afghan Refugees residing in the province, especially in the cities of Noushki, Chaghi, Bolan, and Sibi, might tilt the ethnicity balance of the province and that the Baloch might become a minority in home province. It is reasonable to understand that this would affect everything related to ethnic Baloch population, from share to representation. Whereas Situation in Balochistan is already rough in terms of security and the level of trust of Baloch People in state, any heedless encroachment on the provincial affairs from Federal would just make the matters more worst. BNP(M) in one of its policy statement has said, “Our ancestors have sacrificed their lives to save our homeland for centuries. Holding a census is a matter of life and death for us. Hundreds of thousands of the families of Kohlu, Dera Bugti, Jhalawan, Makran, Awaran, and other districts have been displaced because of anti-Baloch policies.” The party has also filed a review petition in Balochistan High Court and Supreme Court against the census. In one other instance, a retired bureaucrat Ikramullah Kashani has been quoted as saying, “Look, Balochistan has a scattered geography, and people are still living in faraway areas where administrative reach is almost impossible. As [a] census is thoroughly a counting-based process, such areas would be neglected in every possible way, as even the local people would not jeopardize their lives by going there.” What is mandated and required is that the Federal Government find a Suitable middle ground to appease the grievances of crying child Parties, and also be not politically blackmailed into submission. Every genuine concern must be addressed but the Census must find a smooth course to follow.

    While KPK, Punjab and Gilgit-Baltistan appear more politically stable for holding census, the deployment of a huge contingent of Army of around 200,000 men to make happen this mass exercise, speaks of a derelict Condition of our Civil Armed Forces in such scenarios, notwithstanding national exchequer is taking a considerable drain to augment the lofty claims of revival of Police in terms of Weapons, Training and use of Technology. Where in Corruption is usually found seeding beneath such political gimmicks by Government; consider the case of procurement of Armored Vehicles for Sindh Police under Zardari Regime in which billions of rupees were embezzled. Moreover, Political demeanors on Police Force demands a total dismissal from roots.

    It is easy to comprehend that absolutes don’t really lie in events, but stratification of priorities that can get us closer to a Prospering and Corruption-free Pakistan, this shall rule the Chess Board.

    Bio | Zain ul Abideen Bangash has a keen interest in National Security, Geo Politics, CT/COIN and Information Warfare. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Systems from Institute of Space Technology, Islamabad. He also writes for Command Eleven.