No policy devised yet to grant citizenship to Bengali refugees

No policy devised yet of citizenship issue of Bengali Refugees

Pak Chronicle Report

Islamabad

No policy is under consideration yet by the government of Pakistan to award citizenship to Bengali Refugees residing in Pakistan.

Statement into this connection was made by Interior Ministry in the National Assembly on Friday to a query of a law maker in Question Hour.

“Will the Minister for Interior be pleased to state whether there is any proposal under consideration of the Government to give nationality to Bengalis residing in Pakistan; if so, the details thereof?” had inquired an MNA Muhammad Alamgir Khan during the proceedings of the House.

“So far no special package or policy has been devised for providing the right of citizenship by birth to Bengali refugees residing in Pakistan,” the Lower House of the Parliament was informed.

The lawmakers were told that the nationality of Pakistan is governed under the Pakistan Citizenship Act, 1951 and the Naturalization Act, 1926.

There is no special package under consideration or no policy has been formalized yet to provide the right of citizenship by birth to Bengali refugees living in Pakistan, the lawmakers were informed.

This is pertinent to mention here that thousands of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants arrived in Pakistan in the 1980s, while Bangladesh was battling extreme poverty.

According to some estimates by 1995, continuous migration of Bangladeshis crossed the 2,500,000 mark.

During the rule of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto crackdown was started against these immigrant and large number of persons having Bangladeshi origin were deported.

Benazir Bhutto’s action strained and created tensions in Bangladesh/Pakistan relations and Bangladeshi government refused to accept these deportees.

According to some estimates there are over 200 settlements of Bengali-speaking people in Pakistan mostly in Sindh of which 132 are in Karachi while other smaller communities exist in Thatta, Badin, Hyderabad, Tando Adam and Lahore.

There are numerous Bengali colonies in Karachi such as Machhar Colony, Musa Colony and Chittagong Colony.

The Prime Minister Imran Khan after formation of his government in 2018 had also defended his announcement of granting citizenship right to the children of Bengalis and Afghan refugees born in Pakistan.

Speaking on a point of order in the National Assembly in September 2018 Khan had said that Pakistan cannot continue to ignore the issue of non-citizens and needs a policy to facilitate those who have been living here for decades, were born or married here.

However, policy in this connection is yet to be formed by the government of Pakistan.

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