KARACHI: A meeting of the independent human rights commissions and civil society on Monday demanded that the government come up with a clear policy on Afghan immigrants, including their status and make sure that all Afghans were repatriated respectfully and their stay in Pakistan be governed under the UN regulations.

Co-chaired by Sindh Human Rights Commission chairperson retired Justice Majida Razvi and National Commission for Human Rights member Anis Haroon, the meeting was also attended by Sindh Status of Women Commission (SCSW) chairperson Nuzhat Shirin, Resident Director Aurat Foundation Mahnaz Rahman and human rights activists Asghar Dashti, Adam Malik, Shahid Jatoi, Naghma Iqtidar, Wahid Baloch, Sarah Zaman, Anita Panjani, Jugdesh Ahuja, Shireen Ajaz and others.

They said that laws and regulations governing demography should be revisited and reformed as per existing realities.

“The Sindh government is spending huge funds on Rangers, however, the paramilitary force has failed to play an effective role in averting the riots, which disturbed the city life and in many parts of the province for many days recently. The Sindh police should be strengthened and trained on how to deal with such situations,” they demanded.

The participants expressed serious concerns over the government’s ignorance to register, monitor and take action against illegal immigrants in the country.

They said that Karachi was already overwhelmed with population influx, particularly from people of other provinces and even other countries. “The city’s socio-economic and civic infrastructure cannot withstand this unchecked tendency; hence steps should be taken to stop any further population influx in Sindh.”

They said that the ethnic realities of Sindh should be acknowledged and a proper dialogue initiated to find a just and lasting solution for peaceful coexistence. “Political parties should stop risking the ethnic balance of the province and particularly in Karachi at the cost of their electoral compromises.”

The meeting hailed the role of nationalist parties from both sides and also condemned the arrests of the Sindhi nationalists who were protesting against illegal Afghan immigrants in Sindh.

“There should be a distinction between people from other provinces who come as workers and those who are purchasing properties reportedly for strategic reasons,” the speakers said, calling upon the government to create a permanent platform where such problems could be immediately addressed.

The population census, particularly in Karachi, had remained a controversial issue. Since the government is planning to hold a census in Karachi, it should be done credibly and then a policy should be initiated to provide basic rights to the citizens. The PPP government in Sindh bears dual responsibility as a ruling party of Sindh as well as a major political party in the country, the meeting noted.

“We condemn the violence of all sorts and ask the government to take strict action against those disturbing peace,” the participants said.

They condemned the murder of Bilal Kaka and demanded those responsible be tried under the anti-terrorism law.

The participants observed that several illegal immigrants had acquired computerised national identity cards (CNICs) in Karachi and there have been reports of the involvement of the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) staff in issuing cards to foreigners. “A thorough investigation is required and government must ensure all such CNICs are cancelled.”

Published in Dawn, July 19th, 2022

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