ASIA/PAKISTAN - Seventh national population census kicks off: awareness among Christian communities

Friday, 17 March 2023 society   religious minorities   faith  

Lahore (Agenzia Fides) - The seventh national population census has begun in Pakistan, which - a big change compared to the past - is carried out through an online registration across the country. Among the items on the form to be filled out, for individuals and families, there is also that relating to the faith professed: for this reason, Christian communities of all denominations are working to educate the faithful, especially those who are non-literate or less educated, on the procedure for registering, so that they can participate in the census correctly: "It is important to give the right number of Christian faithful in Pakistan.
Therefore Pastors, Bishops, political and social leaders and workers, educated people are called to do everything so that all Christian families are registered. If there is a need to go to the homes of less wealthy Christian families to help them register, do so. If possible, set up a small gazebo or pew in your neighborhood, or outside churches to sensitize everyone to register", hopes Christian Rohail Zafar, Secretary General of the "Pakistan Minority Rights Commission". "Even Christian television channels and mass media should launch awareness campaigns in this regard, in order to ensure the creation of accurate statistics of the Christian population", he notes.
The baptized in Pakistan demand maximum transparency from the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) in order to create public trust. It should be remembered that the results of the sixth population census, carried out in 2017, have become the subject of controversy and many data have been inexplicably classified: the request is for the census results to be public in order to create public trust.
In recent months, in view of the census, an analysis on the matter was presented in the report "Confusing Demographics for Minoritiese", based on the analysis of census data in 1981, 1998 and 2017 and carried out by scholars Qais Aslam and Peter Jacob, a Catholic. The text points out various critical points on the data, stating that they "leave doubts on credibility". According to the last three censuses surveyed, the population of so-called "religious minorities" (all non-Muslim communities) in 1981 constituted 3.32 percent of the total population; in 1998 it increased to 3.73 percent; in 2017 it reportedly decreased to 3.52 percent. The total population of non-Muslim religious communities in 2017 was counted at 7.32 million, including Christians (2.64 million), Hindus (3.6 million), Ahmadis (0.19 million), recognized caste (0.85 million), people of “other religions” (0.04 million).
The text calls for a more detailed categorization and the elimination of the collective term "minorities", suggesting the choice to self-identify one's religious orientation. For example, smaller faith communities (Baha'i, Kalash, Jews, Buddhists) do not have the option of identifying themselves, but are all lumped together as "other religions". (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 17/3/2023)