Citizenship for refugees

DURING his first visit to Karachi after assuming power, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday visited mausoleum of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and also chaired two important meetings — one on law & order situation and the other on federally funded development schemes for the mega city. He also addressed a fund raising function for dams where, among other announcements, he declared his government’s intention to grant citizenship to those Afghan and Bengali refugees who were born in Pakistan.
As for peace and stability, it was pointed out in the meeting that there has been 90 percent reduction in crime rate in the city but now Karachites are weary of growing street crimes. No doubt, this is primarily the responsibility of the provincial government but federal government too has strong presence in the city and its security machinery can, therefore, contribute a lot in addressing this problem as well. Karachi also faces numerous other problems since long and despite attempts and commitments made by successive governments no headway was made to address them effectively mainly because of questions relating to ownership of the city. Karachi has direct relevance to national economy but it lacks full federal or provincial government attention while the city administration too has been complaining of meagre coordination and resources to resolve problems of the people.
One of the salient features of July 25 general election was massive vote that PTI received from Karachi, which was previously considered to be stronghold of MQM. During his election campaign in May, PM Khan presented a 10-point agenda for development of Karachi, which included water supply, city administration, public schools and hospital reforms. People of Karachi have voted for change and it is now for the PTI government to redress grievances of people of Karachi. The issue of granting citizenship to illegal immigrants and refugees is fraught with serious consequences and it would effectively turn Pakistan into a refugee state. The decision seems to be politically motivated as PTI is eyeing at votes in Karachi and KP yet, if implemented, the decision would add permanent burden to national economy. Even developed countries of Europe are not accepting refugees but we are adopting a liberal approach despite financial constraints and social implications of the problem. This would also run contrary to PTI government’s commitment to provide job opportunities to people.

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