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ICC Note:
Historical census data in Pakistan has established that religious minorities in Pakistan, including Christians, only make up a small percentage of the country’s Muslim-majority population. A national census has not been taken in years and religious minorities have consistently complained that they are under-represented in Pakistan’s government. Now, with 2017 marking the next national census, religious minorities have an opportunity to show their actual size the the nation and hopefully also get the representation they need. 
01/26/2017 Pakistan (Daily Times) – From 1951 till 1981, a census was regularly undertaken in the country, which suggested a gradual population growth. Then censuses were delayed for a year because of Bangladesh’s severance in 1971. As per the latest enumeration, the population in 1972 was 65 million which went up to 130 million by 1998.
Since then, the fact was established that a Muslim majority occupies 97 percent of population data and 3 percent ethnic minorities representing Hindus, Christians, Sikhs and other scheduled caste communities. For the first time under Presidential Order No.14 of 1985, ten seats were reserved for minorities in the National Legislature Assembly and proportionate minority seats in the provincial assemblies.
Since then, ten selected minority members belonging to majority political parties share their political representation. In 2008, the NA seats were raised up to 342 whereas the number of minorities’ seats was never revised or increased. Asia Nasir, JUI-F nominated Christian Member of the National Assembly, tried time and again to get the minorities seats increased but could not succeed.
Recently, her effort was turned down by the standing committee with the plea that minorities’ seat increasing bill could be moved after the national census in 2017. Responding to a query on the issue, she said, “I will keep raising the matter in the Parliament.”

The 2017 census is the best chance to claim the real presence percentage in the country to affirm proper political participation in Parliament as well as socio-economic rights. Nevertheless, Pakistan Bureau of Statistics in coordination with the Provincial governments will carry out country’s census, but communities at large must take responsibility aiding the governmental agencies for decorous enumeration.
Talking about minorities, who can help government agencies, the principal responsibility lies with the religious institutions of minorities. The Roman Catholic Church, one of the Main Line Christian Churches in Pakistan keeps a record of all individual members of congregations. Similarly Church of Pakistan, Salvation Army Church, Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church of Pakistan, Seventh Day Adventist Church and other formulated Free Evangelical and Ecumenical Churches may trigger communities to take an active part in the process of census taking. Likewise, Hindu Council in Pakistan and Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (PSGPC) are the major representatives of Hindus and Sikh communities.
Secondly, minorities’ political leadership could play a significant role to raise public awareness through media outlets and subservient local political groups. Thirdly, Non-Governmental Organizations working at grass root level are vital for the procedure to bring out the real number of minority members living in a place, region or area. The coordinated efforts of all institutions pertaining to minorities could show a miraculous result with a much-swollen participation than it had been for the last three decades.

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