Decision to award citizenship to Bengali, Afghan refugees open for debate: PM

ISLAMABAD : Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday said that his announcement of awarding citizenship to Bengali and Afghan refugees is open for a parliamentary debate.

During his speech at the floor of the National Assembly, the PM maintained that no international law allows any country to forcibly repatriate refugees, while children born in a particular country are naturally considered citizens of that country worldwide.

“Bengali refugees, for instance, are here (in Pakistan) for more than 40 years and generations have spent their lives here without basic rights, when are we going to take a final decision regarding their future?,” asked the PM.

The premier maintained that during his visit to Karachi, he was told that these refugees, deprived of basic rights, are turning towards crime.

He implored the NA to think of refugees like fellow human beings not aliens.

As Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Nafisa Shah objected upon his announcement, the PM clarified that no final decision has been taken in this regard and the decision is open for debate.

“I invite you to give suggestions on this matter and it is open for debate but my question remains: when, if not today?,” said the PM.

In his maiden visit to Karachi on Sunday, Prime Minister Imran Khan had announced that Afghans and Bengalis living in the country for many decades would be issued National Identity Cards and passports, which would effectively make them formal citizens of Pakistan.

The announcement has since been criticised by opposition leaders across the country.


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