New electoral data

The country has added 21m voters in just five years, according to the latest Election Commission of Pakistan data.

The country has added 21 million voters in just five years, according to the latest Election Commission of Pakistan data. Although we still don’t know when the next elections will be, the new data shows that men make up 54% of the electorate — a substantial variance from overall demographic trends, which show the male population at about 51% of the total. This variance shows that many women are still not registering to vote, often due to societal pressures and taboos. Although the differences is most pronounced in Balochistan, which has almost 56% male voters, and least visible in Punjab, with its 53.6% male voters, the narrow range suggests that lack of female participation is a nationwide problem.

Overall voting population growth was also relatively consistent, with Sindh registering a ‘lowly’ 19.3% increase, marginally less than Punjab, while K-P and the ex-Fata areas combined grew by 21.7%, and Balochistan grew by 23.3%. Islamabad also saw its total electorate cross one million for the first time, on the back of a 35% increase in the capital territory’s voting population.

On a separate note, the increase of almost 20% works out to about 4% per year, or almost twice the population growth rate, and should be taken as a warning sign of a massive challenge the country is mostly failing to address — employment. Even before the economy began to nosedive, job creation was not keeping up with the requirements of the workforce, partly due to the focus on high-paying and capital-intensive investment areas over lower-paying, labour-intensive industries. But as long as economic growth was reasonable, the magnitude of the problem could be hidden. Now, with several industries actually cutting jobs, the extent of the problem in coming years becomes more evident. Since working-age population growth is also dependent on events from almost two decades ago, policies to address the problem depend on extensive foresight — something that has been lacking in most of our leadership.

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