–Imran Khan says Afghani and Bengali children born in Pakistan have right to citizenship
–Will make final decision after all parties present their recommendations on ‘issue of humanitarian importance’
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday sought recommendations from parliamentarians regarding a proposal to grant citizenship to Bengali and Afghan children born in Pakistan, two days after he had promised to end the refugees’ plight by issuing them passports and national identity cards.
“Children born in Pakistan have the right to be called Pakistani,” the PM said while addressing a session of the National Assembly.
Khan said, “A final decision has not yet been made in this regard and the proposal is up for discussion and everyone should present their recommendations.”
The PM’s promise, which came as a surprise for many, drew mixed reactions from opposition parties, some of which also expressed their reservations.
In response to a question, the prime minister said it is a globally recognised law that a child born in a country gets its citizenship. He said around the world, separate laws are applied to migrants and children of migrants born in the host country.
“Now the third generation of Bengalis are living in Pakistan, specifically in Karachi. As they have no computerised national identity cards, they are unable to get jobs and even admission in educational institutes.”
“We have been briefed that jobless youngsters are responsible for rampant street crimes in Karachi. What will be their future if we don’t grant them citizenship? They can’t go back as they are the third generation living in this country and what would they do if we don’t grant them citizenship?” Khan asked.
“Several people have been living in Karachi for decades without any nationality,” he added.
“Immigrants are also humans,” the PM asserted.
He explained, “If we do not take a decision regarding immigrants then we will have to face severe problems.”
Talking about Afghan migrants, he said they should return and the government is already working on their voluntary repatriation.
The prime minister said he has taken up the issue on humanitarian grounds, adding that international conventions bound countries not to send back migrants forcibly.
In addition to PM Khan, federal cabinet members and opposition leaders also attended the session which was chaired by NA Speaker Asad Qaiser.