The federal government has officially inaugurated the National Census Coordination Center (N3C) and promised that the first ever digitised population census would be completed before the 2023 general elections. While this is a major achievement that is being worked towards, there are some concerns that the entire process is driven by political motives and is being conducted rather hastily. If this is true, it would take away from the purpose of the entire exercise and render over Rs.10 billion of public funds useless.

The digitised census promises a smoother trouble-free process, more accuracy and inclusion. Traditional methods of door-to-door canvassing require immense man-power and capital that could be saved through digitising the process entirely. By removing the condition of each citizen requiring a CNIC, not only is the process made easier but it has allowed for more diverse fragments of society to be included. Those who identify as being transgender, with disabilities, and a host of other qualifies like ethnicity, age and geographical roots will be included within this census, making it more representative.

The practical steps being taken may be great but they will account for little if they are not backed up with genuine intentions of wanting progress within the country. There is some speculation that the government has hurried through the planning phase by utilising only less than a year to schedule the census for August, compared to the usual two years that it takes. This would be perfect timing as it would fall right before the next elections, alluding to the fact that there are higher political motives for wanting to carry out the census immediately.

More weight is given to this speculation when apparent problems with digitisation—connectivity problems and electricity shortages—have not been resolved. Even the matter of whether such a facility will be available for use in far-flung areas has still been left unanswered. Furthermore, the result of the 2017 census was released just a few months ago but the government has not made the effort in understanding its pitfalls and trying to bridge any gaps that exist. Instead, a whole new event is being organised without much thought and strategy. This is an important milestone for the country, it must not be led with these concerns still present.