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Pakistan to conduct first Census since 1998; minorities express both fear and hope

Ahead of the first Census since 1998 that Pakistan will be conducting, minorities in the country have expressed both hope and fear. The hopes arise from the belief that the Census would allow minority communities to know their exact population, which in turn will give them representation in the political system of the country. It may be recalled that Pakistan has an estimated 200 million population and it is considered as the sixth most populous country in the world. It is provided in Pakistan’s constitution that Census be conducted every 10 years, but the same has not been done since 1998. Differences between politicians and certain sections of the Pakistani Army have delayed the Census for two decades.

Among the minority communities in Pakistan are Hindus, which are estimated to be around 2.5 to 4.5 million and Christians, which are estimated to be around 2-10 million. However, not all minorities want themselves to be counted. For example, Pakistani Ahmadis have been declared non-Muslims by law and they often face persecution and violence. They are not even allowed to call themselves Muslims. Such minority communities would prefer not being counted, as they fear that they may face further violence after their identification in the Census.

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