CENSUS OF 1998 It took 17 years for Pakistan’s politicians to muster enough political courage to hold another population census Under normal circumstances, a census should have been held in 1991, in keeping with the decennial approach, which the country was expected to follow along with the rest of the world Also, the constitution of 1973 had mandated that population censuses should be taken every 10 years to provide the basis for the allocation of seats in the National Assembly and the sharing among the four provinces of revenues collected by the federal government This did not happen because the government of Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif did not feel that it had enough political authority to overrule the objections of provinces and powerful socioeconomic groups that would have lost some political ground as a result of an accurate count of the population Accordingly, the census was postponed The successor government of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, operating under the same set of constraints, also failed to hold a census while it was in office (October 1993-November 1996) It was only with the decisive victory of Mian Nawaz Sharif and his Pakistan Muslim League in the elections of February 1997 that a government came to office that felt it had sufficient political authority to go ahead with a census The census was held over a period of 18 days in March 1998 The military assisted the government by having soldiers accompany enumerators as they went from house to house gathering data Preliminary results from the census were announced in June 1998, according to which Pakistan had a population of 137 million, 10 million less than the estimates of most demographers

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