The deadlock over the electoral constituencies’ delimitation law persists as main opposition Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), of Bilawal Bhutto, which enjoys a dominant position in the Senate, has refused to co-operate with the ruling Pakistan Muslim League - N (PML-N), of Nawaz Sharif, unless its demands on the modus operandi for a third-party audit of the census in 5% census blocks are accepted.
“We are not asking for the moon. Our demands are very clear and are meant to ensure transparency in the process,” PPP parliamentary leader in the Senate Taj Haider says.
He said the PPP would not allow passage of the constitution amendment bill in the upcoming session of the Senate scheduled for December 11 if it’s just demands were not met.
The bill, which paves the way for the allocation of seats in the National Assembly and delimitation on the basis of provisional census results, has already been passed by the National Assembly.
Article 51(5) of the constitution provides that seats in the National Assembly shall be allocated to each province, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and the federal capital on the basis of population in accordance with the last preceding census officially published.
There is a consensus among political parties that for purposes of the next general elections to be held in 2018 and by-elections, allocation of National Assembly seats should be made on the basis of provisional results of the census 2017 without changing the existing total number of general seats (272) and women seats (60) and retaining the share of Fata (12).
According to the proposed reallocation, seats will increase for Balochistan (2 general seats + l woman seat), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (4+l) and federal capital (l+0), while seats for Punjab will decrease (-7 and -2). The seats for Sindh will remain the same.
The inter-provincial Council of Common Interests (CCI) had at a meeting on November 13 approved publication of provisional results of the census for purposes of Article 5l(5) as provided in the bill.
The CCI had also decided that a third-party validation would be carried out of 1pc census blocks. The proportion of census blocks where the re-verification exercise is to be carried out was changed to 5pc when the bill was passed by the National Assembly.
Senator Haider said that if the faulty methodology used in the census 2017 was repeated in the Post Enumeration Survey (PES) of 5pc selected blocks by the same organisation that had carried out the census, the results would once again become controversial.
He said the de jure method used in the census had registered migrants in their provinces of origin and not in the provinces of their present residence. It had also missed illegal residents who were a great burden on the provinces in which they were residing.
The internationally accepted de facto method, which records residents at their present place of residence, was the only method to record population correctly and this method should be used in the PES of the 5pc selected blocks.
He called for the use of internationally recognised templates for enumeration that record the data and transmit it online to controlling offices.
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