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Pakistan begins first census in 19 years

Pakistan begins first census in 19 yearsPakistan on Wednesday launched a countrywide census, the first in nearly two decades, amidst security fears and concerns about the political fallout of the massive exercise.

Asif Bajwa, the country's chief census officer, told reporters in the capital Islamabad that tens of thousands of civilian data collector will be working door-to-door, supported by soldiers. The project will be conducted in two phases and aims to be finished by May 15, Bajwa said.

Some 119,000 officials including 84,000 enumerators are taking part in the census with 200,000 troops providing security and monitoring the process to ensure authenticity.

The first phase of housing and population census will continue till April 15, followed by a 10-day break and then the second phase will begin on April 25 and finished on May 25.

Bajwa said that in the first phase the census will be completed in 63 districts of the country. In the second phase, the census will be conducted in 61 districts.

Bajwa urged the people to participate in the census process and cooperate with the officials.

He said the survey would for the first time include an estimated 1 million Afghan refugees living in Pakistan and also transgender people.

Under the constitution, the census should be held every 10 years to determine the exact population and allocation of resources among provinces on the basis number of people, but it had been delayed due to security concerns and political wrangling.

Pakistan, the sixth most populous country in the world, last conducted a census in 1998, when the population was around 180 million. It is believed to have since risen above 200 million.

The final outcome of the census would be known by July and it may lead to the demarcation of constituencies ahead of general elections next year.
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