Pak Army gets judicial powers for census

Islamabad [Pakistan], Mar. 15 (ANI): As the first phase population census began today in Pakistan, the Interior Ministry has given the army judicial powers to hand down on-the-spot verdicts against those who refuse to cooperate or give false information.

"The ministry has approved a summary to give judicial powers to the military personnel supervising the national headcount exercise," the Express Tribune quoted an official of the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), the body responsible for holding the census, as saying on Tuesday.

According to the PBS Census and Survey Member Habibullah Khan, the bureau had sought these powers for its enumerators to ensure speedy dispensation of justice.

"The law already provides for giving punishment but the PBS wanted that the judgments should be given on spot to compel the people to cooperate and remain truthful," he added.

According to the law, those who refuse to participate in the national headcount or give false information will be liable to a 50,000-rupee fine and a six-month jail term.

The Pakistan Army is providing security for the census through its 200,000-strong force. About 42,000 personnel will perform the role of enumerators while the rest will provide security.

The exercise is taking place after a delay of nine years, as the last population census was conducted in 1998. The data obtained from the census will be used for distribution of the National Assembly seats and division of financial resources. The population is also the base for distribution of civil service jobs among the provinces. (ANI)