Census unacceptable in refugees’ presence, says NP

Published January 30, 2017
National Party (NP) president Mir Hasil Bizenjo speaks to reporters.— PPI
National Party (NP) president Mir Hasil Bizenjo speaks to reporters.— PPI

QUETTA: Announcing his party’s decision to approach the Supreme Court on the issue of the national population census, National Party (NP) president Mir Hasil Bizenjo has said that census in Balochistan is unacceptable in the presence of refugees.

Speaking at a news conference at the Quetta Press Club on Sunday, he said that it was the principled stand of his party that refugees, regardless of their ethnicity, should be sent back to their countries and that view was shared by other nationalist parties.

He said that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak, during a multi-party conference on the census convened by the government, had called for repatriation of refugees (living in KP) to their home countries before the census because the exercise would be a difficult task in their presence.

A similar situation existed in Balochistan also, Mr Bizenjo, who is also federal minister for ports and shipping, said.

Besides refugees, he said, another issue in Balochistan was internally displaced persons as a large number of people had shifted from Dera Bugti, Kohlu, Makran division and Naseerabad in the wake of what he called the ‘resistance movement’.

Under such conditions, complications would arise if the government went for the census, the NP chief warned.

He said that the Afghan government wanted repatriation of Afghan refugees but the government of Pakistan had allowed them to stay in the country till March.

He called for a delay in the census until complete repatriation of refugees from Balochistan.

In this regard, he said, Nawabzada Haji Lashkari Riasani was convening a tribal jirga in which the NP would participate to coordinate with tribal notables and devise a joint strategy on the census.

Replying a question, the NP chief said that they would not resort to boycott of the census but would follow whatever decision was made by the political parties. His party would soon devise a strategy on the issue in collaboration with other parties, he added.

The issue had been raised in the National Assembly and the Senate and would soon be taken up in the Balochistan Assembly, he said.

Former chief minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch, Provincial Health Minister Mir Rehmat Saleh Baloch and other leaders of the NP were present on the occasion.

Published in Dawn, January 30th, 2017

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