Updated Oct 10, 2017 11:27am

Identity issue haunts Karachi’s Rohingya population

Zia Ur Rehman
The PMA did not win any seat but bagged significant votes from eligible Burmese and Bengali communities in Korangi and Bin Qasim areas. For example, in 2002 general polls, the PMA candidates bagged around 5,000 votes from each of NA-254 (Korangi) and PS-129 (Bin Qasim) constituencies, only from Burmese and Bengali neighborhoods.

However, after MQM formed a special committee for the Bengali and Burmese communities called the Pakistan Bengalis Action Committee (PBAC) in 2005, the PMA abandoned its activities. The PBAC, led by Shaikh Feroz, a former town nazim of Orangi, is now active in all Burmese neighborhoods in the city.

Rohingya community is more inclined towards religion and they send their children to madressahs. It is a major reason that many religious parties, especially the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat, the JI and the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl, have their organisational set-up in Burmese neighborhoods.

Community leaders say that law enforcement agencies have arrested a number of Rohingya people in different slums of the city in recent months but mainly for their involvement in ethno-political violence and street-crimes.

According to the United Nations, the Rohingyas are ‘one of the most persecuted groups of people in the world’. The community in Karachi is also worried over the ethnic cleansing taking place in Myanmar. It has organised several protests in the city against the oppression and conducted fund-raising campaigns for helping their kith and kin in Myanmar.

“A number of Rohingya members living in Arakan Abad have lost their relatives in recent attacks by Buddhist mobs in June 2012 in Myanmar,” said Mohammad Fazil, a local JI activist.

Rohingyas in Karachi regularly collect donations, Zakat and hides of sacrificial animals and send these to Myanmar and Bangladesh to support the displaced families.

Published in Dawn, February 23rd, 2015

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