Pakistan has begun its first national census in 19 years amid tight security from around 200,000 military personnel. A 70-day data gathering operation, starting in 63 districts and protected by police and soldiers, is being carried out by 118,000 officials. The previous census was completed in 1998 and the long delay in updating it is down to a lack of funds, political disputes and insufficient troops to keep everybody involved safe. But in December the chief justice of Pakistan’s supreme court set a deadline of March or April, saying a census was essential to democracy. Seats in Pakistan’s parliament are allocated according to population density and without a census the number of seats cannot be decided. Rural populations in the world’s sixth-largest country frequently change as people try to escape poverty and ethnic or sectarian violence by moving to towns and cities. The security staff will protect census teams and ensure households can enter data without being intimidated by powerful feudal landlords and political families who fear losing influence.
“We made all the arrangements for a smooth, safe and transparent process of population census,” said census official Javed Iqbal in Peshawar, capital of the volatile Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
For the first time, transgender Pakistanis will be counted – although forms had already been printed when the decision was made. “We have been anxiously waiting for the process to begin but it hurt us as there is no separate column in the form,” said Farzana Riaz, president of Trans Action. Afghan refugees will also be included, despite opposition from the southwest province of Baluchistan on the border with Iran, where ethnic Baluchs fear becoming a minority. Other communities have criticised the decision to include only nine of the estimated 70 languages used in Pakistan. Households will also be asked how many toilets they have, as the United Nations estimates up to 40% of Pakistanis defecate in the open air with dramatic health consequences, especially for children.
In a sign of how much has changed since the previous census, Karachi’s population was put at 9.2 million in 1998, but current estimates now vary between 18 and 23 million, according to the National Database and Registration Authority.
The Government has confirmed more than 13m of funding to boost security at Jewish schools next year, as the CST s chairman warned that instability in America and Europe will have a negative impact on Jewish communities.
The renewed funding towards the cost security guards at Jewish schools for 2017-18 follows similar commitments from David Cameron and Theresa May during the last two CST dinners.
The funding will be overseen by the charity, which last night welcomed around 1,000 guests including Amber Rudd, new Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick and a host of political leaders to its flagship fundraiser in central London.
We will continue to listen to the funding needs of the community going forward . But however friendly ad professional security guards are, I m sure you would prefer to go to your local synagogue or drop your child at school without being greeted by one and this is the future we are all working towards.
She spoke of the government s work to challenge extremism from Islamist to the far right including the recent ban on National Action . And she spoke of work social media companies to speed up the removal of illegal content and demote hateful material in online searches .
It can t be right that when you type Gena Turgel s name into search engines, instead of her story of surviving the Holocaust, you can bring up Holocaust denial sites.
Praising the CST and its army of volunteers, Rudd said the bomb threat that forced the evacuation of London s Jewish Museum this week was a reminder of the importance of the charity s work.
She added: We are doing what we can to confine anti-Semitism to the history books . Our efforts have been internationally recognised . In front of an audience that included Tom Watson, Tim Farron and Angus Roberston, she also praised Sir Eric Pickles remarkable which led to Britain becoming the first country to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism.
CST Chief Executive David Delew thanked the Government for their strong efforts to help combat terrorism and antisemitism, epitomised by the continued funding for security guards at Jewish schools, but also shown in a range of other measures, including the adoption and promotion of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism .
Addressing the gathering, CST chair Gerald Ronson said he expected more anti-Semitism, more division within society in future and warned that global instability won t be good for the Jewish community.
Look at how fragile Europe is; and suddenly nobody knows what America stands for any more, he said . People are moving to the extremes . They face globalised problems, which they want simple solutions to . I don t need explanations of fancy modern phrases such as populism or false news or post truth , because I know the danger they point to.
Rightly or wrongly, people are angry . They don t only feel left behind, they feel betrayed . And they need someone to blame . None of this is going to be good for Jews.
Ronson detailed the extent of the CST s recent work including setting up a nationwide control centre covering 220 sites and providing bullet proof vests to every shul.
Insisting that fighting anti-Semitism must never be a party political issue, he said: I know that, despite it all, we still have many friends in the Labour Party and they know what is at stake every bit as much as we do .
We have many good Muslim friends here this evening, but I just wish we had many more .
The more Muslim friends we have, the better off both communities will be.
Squatters who were branded a possible risk to the Queen’s security have been evicted in a “stealth mode” operation. The group were living in a seven-storey building just metres away from Buckingham Palace. The property’s occupiers, who claim to be part of the Autonomous Nation of Anarchist Libertarians, were removed at around 4am on Saturday after the building’s owners filed a submission to the High Court. Daniel, one of the group of 30 campaigners, said: “It was pretty unprecedented . To just wake up and you are surrounded by bailiffs, they came in in stealth mode. “I opened my eyes to bailiffs on the staircase.” Owned by Bahraini Abdulrahman Aljasmi, the building has stood derelict for decades, the group claims, leading them to re-purpose it as an embassy for “indigenous people” and “nations that are not recognised”.
Court documents shown to the Press Association by the squatters cited a Metropolitan Police royal specialist protection officer who flagged a “potential security risk” posed by the group. Concerns were raised that if the squatters accessed the adjoining roof they could directly peer into the gardens of the royal grounds. Snipers stationed on the roof of Wellington Barracks were in “regular contact” with a next-door owner to raise concerns about the view into the palace gardens from the roof, the document said. Security considerations were further fuelled by a post on the group’s social media feed, which said they had decided to relocate “as close to the Queen’s bedroom as possible”, it added. One organiser later claimed the message was just a joke. Warning signs pinned to the door of the once-lavish property, which neighbours the Swaziland High Commission, say the premises is now being being looked after by County Enforcement Group. The building was the third high-profile property in central London to have been occupied by the squatters.
They were evicted from a multimillion-pound property in Eaton Square last month, before immediately moving into a nearby seven-storey building on Grosvenor Gardens.