Pakistan on Wednesday began its first population census in 19 years to collect demographic data amid tight security, officials said.
Census chief Asif Bajwa said that thousands of enumerators escorted by soldiers are knocking every door in parts of the country to record the number of houses and individuals in a first phase.
The sixth most populated nation on earth last held the exercise in 1998 and the next one was due after a decade but a breakdown in security kept delaying it.
There has been a gradual improvement in security since 2014 when the military launched a series of offensives to push back Islamist militants from their hideouts on the Afghan border.
“It is secure enough to go for it now,” Bajwa told dpa in an interview earlier.
Bajwa said that the process was launched Wednesday in 63 of more than 100 districts across the country in the first phases scheduled to be completed in a month.
He said apart from a soldier each accompanying an enumerator, thousands of troops and police have been deployed to secure cities and towns for the exercise.
Also Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb told reporters that houses and individuals would be counted in the census.
Aurangzeb said that key demographic data on urbanisation, the number of people in various age groups, their ethnic and linguistic backgrounds and their educational qualification would be available.
She said initial raw statistics were expected to come out in six months after the two-phase process is complete.