June 26, 2004

Stranded Pakistanis in Bangladesh

There are about 238,000 Pakistanis, who opted for going back to Pakistan after Bangladesh became independent in 1971, are now being sheltered in 66 camps in 13 districts across Bangladesh. Many of them are supported by local NGOs and the Bangladesh Government. As far I know that almost all of them are working in the society as they are free to move and do not need an work permit as such. Many of the top-class Barbers in Dhaka are biharis-people from these camps (including my barber). Yet they want to go back to their opted country when Pakistani government is reluctant to listen to them. Only the MQM Party has an agenda to repatriate them. As MQM are supporting the Musharrof government, things should move a bit in their favor, but nothing is happening and the refugees are carrying on their usual protests in vain. So what the Bangladesh government should do with them? They are free to work and maintain their lives and only short of Bangladesh citizenship. And Pakistanis are turning their back on them as if they are not bothered. So much for being patriotic.


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