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Opinion

September 26, 2017

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Karachi’s Rohingya

History has, once again, repeated itself – but in a more frightful manner than in any other age. Under attack by the specialised security forces, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims have been forced to flee Myanmar. In the Arkanabad locality of Karachi, the Rohingya who moved to Pakistan have next of kin who were swayed by the Myanmar administration’s incursion that began a month ago.

After Myanmar and Bangladesh, Pakistan is home to an alarming number of the Rohingya. The Rohingya who live in the country are enraged over the government’s lack of interest to halt the homicide in Myanmar and ameliorate the conditions of the, what some say are, 500,000 Rohingya people living in Pakistan.

According to Noor Hussain – who heads the Pakistan chapter of the Rohingya Solidarity Organization – suitable efforts need to be taken by the government as the Rohingya need more succour to stand up against the violence in Myanmar.

Pakistan was among the first nations to denounce the Myanmar government’s hostile acts, which began after Rohingya aggressors attacked members from the security forces. According to the UN, no less than 370,000 Rohingya people fled to Bangladesh after this barbaric action. Members of the civil society in Pakistan are ready to take up arms against those who are persecuting Muslims in Myanmar. Meanwhile, a large number of Rohingya vagrants in Pakistan continue to live in loneliness.

At the Arkanabad ghetto, ramshackle shanties with shaky corrugated roofs and makeshift walls serve as an abode to more than 100,000 Rohingya people.

The men are professional anglers while a modest number of them weave rugs or work in the textile industries. An inadequate diet and diarrhoea are common among their children. They have limited access to schools and spend their days playing in waterways that are filled with refuse.

A single tap of water serves nearly 30 families. Nonetheless, even where running water is accessible, it frequently flows for less than four hours a day. There are also no clinics in the ghettos.

At least six women in the locality who I spoke to last week about one of their relatives who had died during childbirth because she had not been admitted to a government hospice.

In any case, what individuals complained about the most was routine badgering by the police. Many spoke bleakly about a Burma cell – an exceptional police division in charge of taking action against Rohingya vagrants.

The Rohingya have been issued Pakistani CNICs. However, since action was taken against those possessing phony documentation in 2014, many Rohingya people have experienced difficulties in renewing their cards. Moreover, even their children are consistently being denied identification cards.

As a result, the Rohingya cannot seek employment, their children’s cannot apply for higher education and government hospitals are inaccessible to them. In the jhuggis of Burmi Colony, it is illegal for inhabitants to leave the area to go fishing. Mohammad Younis, 30, is an angler who has not worked for six months. His monthly remuneration of $600 has fallen to approximately $60.

According to Younis, when anyone from the persecuted minority tries to go fishing, they are barred by the police who demand to see their CNICs. When they provide documents for the renewal of their CNICs, they are not permitted to leave for their respective jobs. In this way, the Rohingya are coerced to take their last breath in these slums and denied access to earn their livelihood.

Residents recall how those individuals who did not possess identity cards were arrested and held on an unbearable indemnity until an inducement was paid to the concerned officer. Malik Ishfaque – a police official whose jurisdiction includes a significant number of the Rohingya-dominant slums – said that the officers were compelled by a solemn obligation to take action against any individual who did not have substantial records. While he confessed that a Burma cell did exist, he said it had been disassembled.

Even though they have no means to support their own survival, the Rohingya are still endeavouring to directly help their clan back in Myanmar. Numerous members of the community who live in the country can’t even formally call themselves as Rohingya. To maintain a strategic distance from oppression and be acknowledged as natives, many have pretended to be Bengalis, who moved from East Pakistan in 1971. While the Rohingya attempt to collect small sums of money to help their families,  help is still needed from affluent sections Pakistani society to address the plight of their persecuted community.

 

The writer is a freelance contributor. Email: [email protected]

 

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