No sign of census


What will it take?



For a party that prides itself for safeguarding democracy time and again, PML-N’s attention towards some of the more subtle democratic practices can be worrying sometimes. And, more often than not, the Supreme Court has to provide a not-so-gentle nudge for it to grudgingly move forward. It was like this in the local government elections. Despite its love for democracy, the PML-N just seemed in no mood to allow power to devolve to the grass-root. Those how know them, and our particular democratic system, well enough said, with authority, that it was to keep development funds, etc, closer to the top of the totem pole than the bottom.

Whether or not they would have been so apprehensive had they known they’d win a good number of them is another matter. But the SC’s push did engineer local body polls, and we did get a toothless, powerless lower cadre of democracy – for whatever it is worth. Of late the government has been showing similar resistance to holding the census. It’s been due for a while now, and none of the governments that promised holding it did anything to hold it. And, so far, PML-N has been no different. The new promise is for March, yet there’s little to show the game is afoot yet.

The ruling party says it’s chiefly because of the unavailability of the military – bogged up as it is with Zarb-e-Azb, etc. But there’s not much chance of the army finding much elbow room by March. Why, then, this deadline, especially since there’s been zero movement since the announcement? Again, there seems more weight in arguments of those closer to the picture, who say the census unnerves the government because of possible ramifications for shares of political seats in parliament and such politics, even at the cost of working blind in terms of policy formulation because available census data is 18 years old. The census matter deserves greater attention than it is getting. And, unfortunately, the SC seems less able to nudge this one through than the local body poll.