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August 8, 2019

‘Nothing worse than being stateless’


August 8, 2019

A moot on topic of “Stateless in Pakistan: Opportunities and Obstacles in the Domestic Legal Framework” organised by SHARP-Pakistan on Wednesday at Movenpick Hotel in Karachi stressed that the government must respect the legal and human rights of all the migrants and stateless persons in the country who are eligible to obtain citizenship.

Speaking at the event, SHARP-Pakistan CEO Liaqat Banori said that right to identity was a fundamental right of a person and nothing could be worse than a person being stateless. He said that approximately there were 10 million people across the world stateless for reasons including migrations, opportunities’ hunt and state policies.

A presentation at the outset of the dialogue by lawyer Haider Imtiaz described that there were undetermined numbers of migrants and stateless people in Pakistan who were regarded as aliens by the authorities. It said that the problems were being caused by legislative and political complications and lack of personal documents.

Imtiaz said that some people are born stateless, others are made. He said that one of the reasons why the identity crisis was rampant was that Pakistan was a signatory neither to the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons nor of the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.

Referring to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s announcement of granting citizenship to the Bengalis, Rohingyas and Afghans, Imtiaz said it met with severe backlash from various quarters, led by nationalist groups, who saw it as an attempt on their land and rights. Though the law allows children of migrants who are born in the country to claim citizenship, the political reasons would not let them, he added.

Pakistan Peoples Party’s former senator Taj Haider said his party wanted equality but it was only possible with the help of all stakeholders, including the global institutions like the UNHCR. He said that Sindh was receiving higher influx than the rest of the provinces in the country because there health facilities and economic opportunities were better.

“Our society is divided into poors and riches. Riches are welcomed everywhere. Poors are discarded by even their own countries. We need to send a message to the world: we [here] are not dealing with a symptom; rather, we are reaching to its root cause. And we need help to achieve it,” he said, adding that intra-country migration was happening mainly because of economic reasons. “Man will go where he finds work.”

Former senator Afrasiab Khattak said: “The World War II migrant crisis transpired that many of people had become stateless and uncertainty loomed on their futures. So, the 1954 convention paved the way for stateless people to get some rights like freedom of religion, health, home, and others. It asked states to treat stateless people as non-nationals. To deal with the crisis more effectively, the 1961 convention on the reduction of stateless people was brought. It discouraged states to deprive people of their citizenships.”

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