History of Census in Chitral
Hidayat ur Rahman
Notes: This article is basically a summary of the research study on the given topic conducted by researcher. Full fledged and elaborate research report will be published in some historical journal. But the basic findings are put before the authorities and the readers so that previous censuses should approaches committed during the valid authentic census report can be conducted based on modern sciencetific approaches of research.
Census is Latin word the census was a list that kept track of all adult males fit for military service. In English it means “official counting of a country’s population or of other classes of things, e.g. traffic, for statistical purposes”.
Every five years, each male Roman citizen had to register in Rome for the census. In this he had to declare his family, wife, children, slaves and riches. Should he fail to do this, his possessions would be confiscated and he would be sold into slavery.
But registration meant freedom. A master wishing to free his slave needed only to enter him in the censor’s list as a citizen (manumissio censu).
To the Roman the census was one of the foundation stones of their civilization.
There are many definitions of census. A census is the procedure of systematically acquiring and recording information about the members of a given population. It is a regularly occurring and official count of a particular population. The term is used mostly in connection with national population and housing censuses; other common censuses include agriculture, business, and traffic censuses.
United Nations define it in following words.
“The essential features of population and housing censuses as “individual enumeration, universality within a defined territory, simultaneity and defined periodicity”
UN recommends it for that population census be taken at least every 10 years.
Importance of Census for the Society
The importance or reasons for conducting a population census include: aiding the government to know the number of people living in the country and the structure of the population; helping in the determination of taxable adults so as to know the amount of revenue expected from that sector; enabling the country to forecast her future economic needs e.g., housing, food etc and the provision of statistics to the government to determine the level of unemployment in the country
Further importance could be: its assistance in the determination of the standard of living of the people in a country through per capital income; using the statistics of the number of people in a country to formulate economic policies e.g., revenue formula is at times based on population figures; the estimation of the number of immigrants in a country, the assistance to the government in the distribution of resources e.g., areas of high population will get more resources than areas of Low population; giving the government an idea of the different population in various parts of the country and this can help in the provision of social amenities like housing, water, electricity, roads, schools, hospitals etc. It doesn’t just end there, Population census is also very vital in giving detailed information to the government on areas of the country where population per land area is high or low; reveals level of man power by helping to reveal the total number of people who are working-when the level of manpower is high, the economic development of the country is assured and assists international agencies and governments in giving aids and other assistance to countries; assists international investors in making investment decisions. In some developing nations, Population is often used to allocate parliamentary seats. States with high Population are given more parliamentary seats than states with low population.
So all said and done, population census as we can now see is far beyond just counting the population of a particular area at a particular time. It can go a long way in helping an area’s or nation’s economy to grow even as it varies from one year to another.
There are two approaches as described by Population Census Organization of Pakistan for the census enumeration:
(a) De-jure – in which persons are counted at their usual place of residence and
(b) De-fecto– in which persons are counted where they are found on the census data. In 1998 census both the approaches were applied simultaneously during enumeration, but the data was tabulated and published on de-jure basis for comparability of data over time.
Census in the State periods
The first census in Chitral was conducted in 1899. Prior to 1899 E.H. Barrow , Cockeril , Dividson and B.E.M Gurdon had surveyed and collected some rough census data from Chitral. E.H. Barrow ’s Gazetteers of Eastern Hindu Kush and B.E.M. Gurdon’s Military Report and Gazetteers on Chitral are note- worthy works of them. All of these talks in relation to sources are not usual census but some census statistics are there.
|E.H. Barrow 1885
Gazetteers of the Eastern Hindu Kush 
|Munshi Muhammad Aziz-ud-Din
|B.E.M Gurdon 1902
Military Report and Gazetteers 
|79000 (Mastuj and Yasin included)||77500 (Mastuj and Yasin included)||43,740|
Sources Barrow 1887, Aziz-ud-Din and Gurdon 1903 Fig. 1
E.H. Barrow Aziz ud Din roughly estimated the population. Their digits are not up to the mark giving population in much larger as given by Gurdon in 1903. Gurdon says in his Military Reports that Assistant Political Agent of Chitral conducted census in 1895. But on contrary Hills that first census of Chitral had been taken in 1899. The census report of 1899 is not available.
On the plea of Chief Commissioner N.W.F.P and A.P.A Chitral Mehtar Shuja-ul-Mulk assigned following men to conduct census in Chitral [excluding Mastuj]. This is known as census of 1911. The Mehtar had given the order of the following persons.
|Enumerator of 1911’s census|
Source: State Census Report 1911 Fig. 2
For these areas the all-India standard questionnaire was not adopted and only the following six simple questions were asked:-
(1) Name (3) Sex (5) Social status
(2) Age (4) Tribe (6) Means of livelihood
The census started at December 1910 and ended in February 1911. The population was as fellows.
|Name of Sub-Districts||Population||Number of fighting men|
Sources: Hills 1914 and State Census Report 1911. Fig. 3
In 1911 Census some persons had large numbers of individuals in their houses. Which are as under.
- Mehtar Shuja-ul-Mulk Shahi Qila Chitral 269
- Wafadar Khan Seen Lasht 154
- Mir Hussain Shah Molkho 66
- Bahadur Ataleq Goldur 59
- Astaftanosh Molkho 60
- Firoza Zarkaranderh 46
Source: State Censes Report 1911
Census of 1911 is worth mentioning for the ethnography of Chitral. It is first ever Census to identify the tribes and clans of Chitral. It also explores social positions of the population. This Census has discovered five hundred and thirty three tribes living in Chitral.
Post 1911 another census conducted by the State of Chitral in 1921. The Census Report of 1921 does not exist but some of the related materials are available in Ex- Malia Records [Revenue Records].
Census of 1921
Source; General Staff of India 1928 Fig. 4
Another Census was carried out by the State of Chitral in 1931 and 1941. Thus the Ex State of Chitral accomplished four Censuses in Chitral.
Census of 1941
Source: Government of India 1941 Fig. 5
Summary of Population in the British colonial period
Post Pakistan Censuses
Since amalgamation of Chitral to Pakistan five Censuses were carried outs which are as fallows. [The 1998’s census we will discuss thoroughly later on]
Fig.7[Sources. Census Report of Tribal areas, Karachi, 1964. A. Latif, 1972 District Census Report Chitral Karachi, 1976. A.H. Khan, 1981 District Census Report of Chitral, Islamabad 1983.]
According to these censuses main tribes in the district were the Kho (Chitralis) Kalashas, Pathans, Dangeriks, Gujars and Yadgah. The Further detail of the tribes is that these have numerous sub tribes of their own. The majority of the people about 90% belong to the Kho tribe. The Kalash Kafirs possess a very different cultural group. The Kafirs and Kho have similar physical features.
These censuses have declared Chitrali to be Indo Aryan origin however; the Chitralis are a little different. Some of the Important Chitrali Kho tribe mentioned are Katore, Khushwakhte, Reza Khel, Khoshees, Baike, Sheigniye, Khusrawa, Zondre, Muhammad Bege, Dashmane, Khaniya, Roshte, Sangale, Raise, Khuja Khel and Seyeds [ Ibid].
Census of 1998
The fifth population and housing census was conducted in March 1998 in Chitral. There were three questioners are used for house listing and getting information on population and characteristics of housing.
The report was published in May 1999 by Population Census Organization Statistical Divisions Government of Pakistan Islamabad.
Census Report mainly consists of three sections viz (1) General description about the District of Chitral. (2) Broad analysis of Population census data (3) Broad analysis of housing census data The general description wraps locations, boundary, area, geography, climate, rainfall ,ethnicity, administrative set up , agriculture flora and fauna, health, industries communication system infrastructure beside launching the district. The broad analysis of population census deal with population size, growth and distribution, other demographic and socio-economic characteristics.
In the history and ethnicity section the numerators have used a very weak source of history “Nai Tarikh-i-Chitral of Mirza Ghulam Murtaza of 1962”. Nai Tarikh-i-Chitral is an important document as it prevails some vital information but it has its weaknesses in terms of Chronological orders and date of events etc. Which have been erroneously used in the census. This book has no primary sources and secondary sources and as no references has been given.
A renowned scholar on the Central Asian History Professor Wolfgang Holzwarth says
“I am inclined to consider Nai Tarikh-e-Chitral’s proposed out line of the Raisa period as very weak, if not fictional. I explicitly exclude the chapters relating to the Kator/Sang Ali dynasty. However, they also reveal serious gaps of information on the political events in the seventeenth century”. [Holzwarth 1996: 121].
Italian scholars Professor Alberto M. Cacopardo and Augusto S. Cacopardo who are working on Chitral’s society and history since 1973 commented on the Nai Tarikh-i-Chitral
“The chronological scheme of NTCh has in fact very weak basis”. [Cacopardo and Cacopardo 2001: 47].
German anthropologist Stellreht says
About modern historiography of area in general, both the chronological and oral traditions it derives from “can be considered as instrument of legitimation”. [Stellreht 1997]
Population of Chitral 1998
|Name of Sub division||Both sexes||Male||Female||Average H, hold size||Literacy rate
|Average annual growth rate|
|Sub Division Chitral||1,84,874||95,499||89,499||7.6||35.9%||2.49|
Source; Government of Pakistan Fig. 8
Top ten villages on Literacy rate in Chitral.
Census of 1998 as shows us the literacy rates of the various villages. The top ten villages of Chitral are as followings (see fig. 9).
|S. No||Name of Village||Literacy Rate|
|5.||Dad Khanduri Drosh||64.4%|
Source; Govt of Pakistan 1998 Fig. 9
The new census will be carried out in the current year but the important thing is that this census should not be taken as a formality like the non specialized one conducted in 1998. The non scientific and unsocial blunders committed in the previous not be repeated, these flawed approaches are given below.
- The total population of Chitral town is 30622 and 19 villages which have not in the census report been given village wise.
- The racial and social stratification and class divisions made in the said report is absolutely baseless historical document like Tarikh-e Chitrar of Mirza Muhammad Ghufran and Chitral of Mehtar Shuja ul Mulk do not support the existence of different classes on racial basis. There was a division on the basis of social status as in the present democratic era all the citizens of the country are equal and no one has discriminatory right according to the constitution of Pakistan. Even this class division in the pre-independent society was erroneously given in the colonial sources and the history written by Mirza Muhammad Ghufran does not mention such a racial classification. Mehtar Shuja-ul-Mulk [1895-1936]’s un-published book titled “Chitral” mentions only two classes i.e. Elite [amir] and commoner [gharib]. This division was purely social not a racial. His argument is that there is no racial basis for being an elite or a commoner. One’s talents or lack of talents will make an elite or a commoner. The social stratifications given in the 1998‘s census report have not been given even in the previous census reports conducted in 1961, 1972, and 1981. It means that such a classification is a fabricated one. Ex State judicial documents, colonial records, Gurdon’s Gazetteers, Lockhart‘s report etc falsify such an artificial stratification of the society.
- The third flaw of the given census report is that fourteen local languages are spoken in different parts of Chitral but the report has not written about the population of inhabitants speaking these languages.
Last but not least is that the present census because of the unavailability of research tools and sources demands a professional and skilled based valid census report.
To sum up this article I would like to conclude that about first we studied some pre-professional census of ex-state of Chitral. These sources were Lockhart, E.H. Borrow, Munshi Muhammad Aziz ud Din and B.E.M Gurdon, who explored rough data about the population of this region. The 1911 census was the first state census conceded out professionally by the state officials explained by Charts and diagrams. The details of successive census report till the 1961 census are not available. Population has rapidly increased from 1899 to 1998. Population of Chitral has increased to 43,740 to 3, 18,689. We have also explored that post independent numerators have also used old colonial documents like Military Report and Gazetteers and Notes on Chitral of I.D. Scott. No post Pakistan sources have been used excepting Nai Tarikh-i-Chitral. I have examined last census report thoroughly, this report is elaborate, comprehensible and precise but some parts have been criticized in earlier and given suggestions have been given for rectification.
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