Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, May 27th, 2020

Afghanistan- Still Without a Comprehensive Population Census

World Population Day is going to be celebrated on July 11, 2011 throughout the world and in Afghanistan. On the day when the world is going to talk about the various aggregates of population living in different parts of world it must be mentioned that Afghan population has been one of the most deprived ones in the world. The continuous wars and conflicts have hampered the way to progress to a large extent and have left the population as a whole in severe agony. Afghanistan has been so unfortunate that it is yet to carry on its first comprehensive and scientific population census. Efforts were made in order to carry out first population census in 1979, but it was never completed. However, the estimations were carried out on the basis of some results that were derived from such a census.

Those estimations were definitely gotten after hard work but they lacked capacity to be considered as true representative of Afghan population. After the downfall of Taliban, the decisions were made to carry out a comprehensive census in the country. The prevailing peace after the foreign support and prior to first presidential election in 2005, the ground was totally ready for such a census, but because of self-centered political incentives, the opportunity could not be cashed. The decision was then taken to have a census in 2008, but because of so called security concerns it was postponed for 2010. Now, we are in 2011 and yet to have our first comprehensive and reliable census, which is really unfortunate for the country.

A comprehensive population census is important for a country in so many ways. The data produced as a result of a census can prove to be an asset for the government in particular and the nation as a whole in general. It is believed that reliable information is of utmost importance for policymaking, planning and decision making and administration. So, the authorities relevant to public administration can receive valuable information from census data, which makes them capable of making better decisions and design effective policies and arrangements.

Apart from that the same data and information can be really helpful in management and evaluation of programs in education sector, housing, health facilities, labor force, transportation and other necessary areas that are essential for public welfare. Without reliable census data, the deficiencies and the shortcomings in the areas mentioned above can not be ascertained and the authorities can not carryout effective decisions on how and where to allocate resources and how often to do so. One of the most important uses of the census data is in the demarcation of constituencies and the allocation of representation to governing bodies. This use of census data can be helpful in providing just government system, which is one of the most basic requirements of a democratic society.

Proper representation of the people in accordance to their number and their constituencies strengthens the grass root democratic patterns and provides a platform to resolve conflicts and to give every member of a society representation in the government. This is concept is the true demand of diverse societies, like that of Afghanistan, which is composed of various races and ethnic groups.

In the absence of reliable and thorough population census both because of self-centered political motives and inappropriate conditions, there have been controversies developing among the ethnic groups and social and political analysts. It is believed that Pashthun majority has been over-calculated, and the difference between Pashthun population and second and third dominating ethnic groups – Tajiks and Hazaras – has been over-emphasized, thus, declaring Pashthuns a dominating majority, which has been further fanning the flames of controversies.

Such controversies in the country can serve as sever blow to democratic evolution and can deprive the people of their true representation in the government. The government along with the international community and organizations must carry out every possible step to ascertain a comprehensive census in the country, if the democracy has to be flourished on the principles of true guardian of the rights of all the people in the country.