Govt collecting data of refugees, illegal immigrants: Mazari


ISLAMABAD : Federal Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari on Tuesday informed the National Assembly that the government had started process to collect the data of refugees, un-registered refugees and illegal immigrants.

The minister stated this while responding to a call to attention notice regarding a proposal to give citizenship of Pakistan to refugees and illegal migrants residing in the country.

She said the data will be collected with the assistance of UNHCR and local agencies and will be shared with the National Assembly.

“This is the first time the government has started the collection of data, while governments in the past had never touched this important issue,” Mazari added.

She said that a policy regarding the future status of refugees and immigrants will be devised after consultation with the opposition parties.

The minister said this matter involves a lot of legal, political and humanitarian obligations which will be considered before taking a final decision on granting citizenship.

Mazar also said the issue of Biharis is different from those of Afghan refugees.

The minister also agreed with the suggestion of BNP-M leader Muhammad Akhtar Mengal to hold a debate in the National Assembly.

“We are ready to hold a debate on the issue, but the opposition should also come with suggestions and proposals to resolve the issue as we cannot linger on this important issue any more” she added.

Shireen Mazari emphasised that if the opposition wants an amendment in the Citizenship Act, the government is ready to move forward with consensus.

The minister said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had announced to give citizenship to refugees and immigrants on humanitarian grounds, but she said that the policy will be devised with the consultation with the political parties.