Pakistan underscores yet another abyss, undercounts minorities in census

·2-min read
Representative image
Representative image

Islamabad [Pakistan], September 2 (ANI): Minorities in Pakistan have accused the government of undercounting them in the sixth Population and Housing Census, according to a media report.

Pakistan Bureau of Statistics completed the data of the sixth Population and Housing Census under the former prime minister Nawaz Sharif's tenure in 2017 and released it in May, Pakistan Today reported.

As per the data, religious minorities shrunk in the country while the Muslim population grew by 96.47 per cent of the population. Hindus accounted for 1.73 per cent of the population; Christians, per cent, Ahmadis, per cent scheduled caste 0.41 per cent and others 0.02 per cent, Pakistan Today said.

The previous census was conducted in 1998 that recorded nearly 132.3 million people, while the 2017 data show the population has grown to 207.68 million.

Karachi Supreme Court attorney Neel Keshav said, "The 1998 census data showed a Hindu population of nearly 2 million. Yet the new census showed that it had only risen to 3.5 million in 20 years." However, he maintained that the numbers of Hindus are likely to be much higher as the majority of them reside in rural areas.

Human rights experts have warned that minorities aren't safe in Pakistan and their social and economic status is also precarious. Analysts have stressed that the security of minorities is subject to the arbitrary whim of the Muslim majority, reported Pakistan Today.

Center for Social Justice Director Peter Jacob also highlighted the undercounting of Christians in Pakistan. He said, "Even though Christians have migrated overseas and converted to Islam, our church records make us suspect that Christians may have been undercounted by at least half a million. We're struggling to find accurate data, and somehow the government is not helping. It is not investigating."

Prof Abdia Elvin of Forman Christian University said, "Reservations of minority communities about census reports are widely known. The minorities have never accepted the census results that have deprived them of their rights and privileges. The policies and distribution of resources have not been fair. The census has led to identity crises and political mishandling of minorities' affairs."

Currently, minorities can contest only 33 reserved seats in the assemblies and four seats in the Senate.

Minorities in Pakistan say that the government has undercounted them in an attempt to draw smaller constituencies and share out fewer seats in assemblies and Senate. (ANI)

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