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Opposition Questions PM Khan’s Statement on Citizenship for Afghan, Bengali Refugees

SEP 25, 2018: Some lawmakers on Tuesday sought clarification on Prime Minister Imran Khan’s statement earlier this month regarding granting citizenship to people of Bengali and Afghan parentage who were born in Pakistan.

The issue was raised jointly by opposition party PPP and one of the government allies, the Balochistan National Party (BNP), through a call to attention notice in the assembly session.

Criticizing the statement, PPP’s Nafeesa Shah termed the premier’s statement “insensitive” and said that PM Khan had “failed to take the feelings of the locals” of Karachi into consideration.

She said that the prime minister made the statement without realizing the ‘sensitivities’ of the metropolis, which she said had fought “civil wars” over resources.

BNP Chief Sardar Akhtar Mengal also opposed the proposal and called for a thorough debate on the issue. He lamented that the government was considered granting citizenship to Bengali and Afghan refugees on humanitarian grounds, while the Baloch people were not even treated as human beings in their own country.

Responding to the arguments raised by PPP and BNP, Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari said that the government was ready to debate the issue before taking any decision.

She further said that the Citizenship Act of 1951 grants citizenship status to everyone who is born in Pakistan.

“Whether you like it or not, it is the law that those born in Pakistan are Pakistani nationals,” Mazari said, but added that the house could amend the law it can.

Mazari also stated that the forceful eviction of Afghan refugees was not possible. She also stated that the Bengalis could no longer be considered citizens of Bangladesh as they had opted to live in Pakistan.

ANP backs proposal of granting citizenship to Afghans

A day earlier, the Awami National Party (ANP) that is close ally of PML-N in a big development supported the idea saying three generations refugees have grown up in Pakistan.

“I fully support Primer Minister Khan’s announcement about citizenship to Afghan refugees as this step would not affect interests of others. The citizenship was a human rights issue hence the third generation of the Afghan refugees should be given Pakistani citizenship, I am also Pakistani Afghan”.

The Central president of Awami National Party (ANP) Asfandyar Wali Khan observed while addressing a media conference in Peshawar on Monday. He stressed that Afghans should be given citizenship under international law.






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