An overwhelming number of Karachi’s Bengali community remains out of the finalised electoral rolls for the general elections because they do not possess a CNIC, a prerequisite for being on the electoral rolls as per Elections Act 2017.
The community, whose strength in Karachi is estimated to be around two million, has a sizable number of people who either do not possess a government-issued ID or their CNICs have been revoked on suspicion of being illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. Social and political activists belonging to the Bengali community of Karachi estimate this number to be around 1.2m. Three sisters — Ameena, Rukhsana, and Zareena — are among those of the Bengali community who remain without a CNIC despite their claimed eligibility.
Residents of Zaman Town in Korangi, the sisters say that they have not been issued CNICs despite filing applications several times at the local Nadra centre in Korangi-4.
“The officers there tell us that Bengalis cannot get a CNIC. They ask us to prove that we were born here, and that our parents had been living in what was then West Pakistan before 1971,” says Zareena, who then shows their father’s employment cards and documents which demonstrate that the family has been living and working in Karachi prior to Dec 16, 1971.