Pakistan on Wednesday launched the first phase of its national census — its first in nearly two decades — amid tightened security in several parts of the country to prevent any disruption of the exercise.
The army will be part of the census, which will first count buildings under a housing survey and then proceed to counting residents in the next phase.
Pakistan is the world’s sixth most populous country but has not held a census since 1998.
More than 300,000 people will be involved in counting what is expected to be a population exceeding 200 million.
With 50% of resources and government jobs going to Punjab province over the past three decades, the census in Pakistan is a politically charged affair.
The count will be the basis for revising political boundaries, parliamentary seat allocations and finances as the country gears up for a national election next year.
“If conducted honestly, we will be seeing a change in demographics,” commented economist Kaiser Bengali.