PAKISTAN’S population has ballooned to 250 million, according to the results of the latest census published on Saturday, growing by 35 million in just six years.
Prime minister Shehbaz Sharif said the annual growth rate of 2.5 per cent presented a “big challenge” for the cash-strapped nation.
“Pakistan’s population growth rate is more than Pakistan’s economic growth,” Sharif said.
The country’s first digital census was conducted by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics throughout May 2023.
Sharif has said the coming election – due by mid-November – will be conducted on the basis of the latest census, with the data used to outline constituencies.
There had been speculation the election could be delayed if the census results were not approved in time, or that any changes to constituencies required by the census could not be implemented.
“Now it is up to the election commission how quickly it completes the (delimitations) of the constituencies,” law minister Azam Nazeer Tarar told a local television channel, warning there could be a delay to polls of up to two and a half months.
The four provincial ministers and the representatives of coalition parties agreed with the results of the census, according to Sharif’s office.
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement, a key ally, had earlier said that the census has undercounted the population of its main voter base, the mega port city of Karachi.
The country’s national assembly is expected to dissolve later this week, with an interim government taking control.
In a nation divided along ethnic lines, enumerating citizens is a politically charged act that can alter claims to power and scant state resources.
Just over 37 per cent of the population is expected to live in poverty, on less than $3.65 a day, in 2023, according to the World Bank in April.
Added to the country’s myriad of problems, including low literacy rates and a ramshackle health service, is the growing threat of climate change which scientists say is behind more frequent and intense heatwaves and heavier monsoon rains.