Pakistan's sixth housing and population census is to start on March 15 and will continue until May 25, Minister of State for Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage Maryam Aurangzeb said during a press briefing in Islamabad on Sunday.
The census will be conducted in two phases, with the first phase stretching from March 15 to April 15, followed by a 10 day break for the movement of logistical arrangements, after which the second phase will go on until May 25, Aurangzeb said.
The census of the budget is Rs18.5 billion, said the minister. Of this amount, Rs6bn has been contributed by the army, Rs6.5bn has been set aside for transportation and Rs6bn has been allotted to the civilian budget, she said.
Total civilian staff taking part in the census equal 118,918, and are all government servants serving in various departments, Aurangzeb said.
Aurangzeb, accompanied by Director General (DG) Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor and Chief Census Commissioner Asif Bajwa, told the press that a Rs50,000 fine and six months imprisonment would be handed to those who wilfully misrepresented facts or provided incorrect data.
The DG ISPR added that the census would be conducted with the assistance of over 200,000 troops in approximately 168,000 blocks.
"There are approximately 168,000 blocks, and there will be a soldier accompanying every civilian enumerator on that level," he said.
Soldiers will go door-to-door with enumerators, fill in their own forms and once the data is provided, the soldier ─ who will have a link to the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) ─ will be able to get Nadra verification of the data immediately.
Dual nationals who are present in Pakistan at the time of the census will be included, Aurangzeb said.
The army has created a support plan for the census according to which the military has three tasks, Ghafoor said. "That the census is smooth, transparent and that security and law and order are maintained."
The army will make security arrangements for the retrieval of filled forms, he added.
With help from the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, master trainers in various cities have trained more trainers under them at the division level, so "each soldier is well-trained to undertake this task", Ghafoor said.
Form 2A of the census will count transgender individuals for the first time, Aurangzeb said, along with people with disabilities.
The provincial results of the census will be published after May 25. Regular reports will be issued at the provincial, district and national levels, the information minister said at the briefing, with a summary of demographics as well as a visual representation published before the final results are released.
The government is also set to undertake a mass communication and awareness campaign on a national level, Aurangzeb said. Citizens who wish to report any discrepancies are encouraged to call a helpline 0800-57574, she said.
"Take the soldier who comes to your door for the census as a thank you from the Army for your devotion, and please cooperate with him," the ISPR said.