Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A forgotten people....Pakistan's dilemma

Forgotten and stranded, perhaps once 36 years ago you could call them stranded Pakistan's in East Pakistan (present-day Bangladesh). Granted it was then the Pakistani government should have acted and arranged to airlift these folks out of the region. But it never happened, and 36 years have past. Why now, frankly however sad this may be Pakistan just simply cannot accommodate 250,000 to 500,000 new immigrants. We are barely able to cope with the present 160M+ population, how are we to accommodate 500,000+ new immigrants?

These are some of the harsh realities of war, a war which shouldn't have happened but it did. A war which could have been prevented,I say this as a student of history. An age old issue which dates back to the 1950's.

It is a dilemma indeed, however incorporating half a million immigrants into the Federation of Pakistan is out of the question. We simply can't handle it, our cities aren't equipped for a sudden influx a large mass of people.

Some may argue it is immoral not to admit these "stranded Pakistanis" into the Federation, but it is even more immoral to admit them - as it simply will not be fair. They would be worse off than they are now. To restart life in a new land is not easy - especially in a country with a growing population of 160M+.

The next best option is for these people to accept Bangladeshi citizenship and integrate themselves into that society.

Following are some video documentaries on the sad fate of the "Stranded Pakistanis" - so is the harsh reality of war.

Video: stranded Pakistani's in Bangladesh...

Video: Stateless in Bangladesh

Video: Camps of Bangladesh

"Stateless Bihari's in Bangladesh, an humanitarian nightmare" Paper by Global Policy Forum

Is there a solution other than admitting these people into the Pakistan Federation?

Most Recent News Clips:

Begum Khalida Zia meets with Shuakat Aziz in Islamabad....one of the issues of discussion is the fate of the stranded Pakistanis (January 2006). Also see http://www.bdhcpk.org/index.php?link=pics#.
And also see report by Jang.

7 Member Delegation from Stranded Pakistanis in Bangladesh meet with Babar Khan Ghouri, Federal Minister for Ports and Shipping

Copyright C. Abdulrahman Rafiq

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