ISLAMABAD – The Council of Common Interests on Friday (CCI) agreed to conduct Pakistan’s sixth population census on March 15, 2017, a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif presided over a meeting of the council conducted in Islamabad, which was attended by all the chief ministers.

Chief Ministers with PM Nawaz before CCI meeting

During the meeting it was decided that the census will be carried out in close coordination between provincial governments and that there will be a committee comprising the secretary statistics and four chief secretaries to address all implementation issues.

Participants of the meeting agreed that the house listing and census operation may be carried out in one go, and the census may be held in two phases.

Each phase may be carried out in all the provinces simultaneously, they agreed.

The census, which should be conducted after every ten years, has been overdue since 2008. The last census was conducted in 1998, after a delay of seven years, in which the population was calculated at 132 million people. For the last 17 years, budget and other affairs have been managed without any exact demographic data.

Since then, the population is believed to have crossed the 200 million mark, suggesting that Pakistan was the sixth most populous country in the world. This, however, is only an approximation based on rough figures from yearly growth statements issued by Statistics Bureau.