Pakistan likely to give legal status to Bengalis

  • Reverification Committee recommends constitutional amendment to legalise marginalised communities

ISLAMABAD: The Parliamentary Committee on the National Reverification Programme (NRVP) has recommended the government to propose a constitutional amendment to legalise the marginalised segment of the society once and for all.

With regard to providing the legal status to Bengalis, the committee deliberated in depth on the provision of legal status to Bengalis living in the country. The Bengali community is settled mainly in Karachi since decades. Majority of them are those who chose to stay here when East Pakistan became Bangladesh.

The total number of Bengalis currently living and working in Karachi is around two million, according to an informal survey carried out by the Pak Muslim Alliance that is active among Karachi’s Bengali community. They are scattered in about 105 settlements across Karachi, including Orangi Town, Ibrahim Hyderi, Bilal Colony, Ziaul Haq Colony, Moosa Colony, Machar Colony and Lyari’s Bengali Para.

The meeting, held at the NADRA Headquarters and was presided over by Acting Speaker of National Assembly Murtaza Abbasi, assessed the progress of the District Level Committees (DLCs) and the status of the implementation of mechanism, as approved by the parliamentary committee, for early and timely clearance of blocked identity cards (CNICs) across the country.

The committee lamented on the performance of the district committees terming it unsatisfactory and disappointing, called for speeding up the process, resolving the complex cases without further letup. Those attending the meeting included NADRA’s director general operation along with other senior officers.

Lawmakers Khalid Hussain Magsi, Abdul Qahar Khan Wadan, Ameer Zaman, Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, ShahJi Gul Afridi, Shaikh Salahuddin and Sahibzada Tariqullah attended the meeting. The committee decided to ask the respective provincial governments to intervene and direct heads of the district committees to start work on the mechanism for early and timely clearance of the blocked identity cards.

The committee also decided to direct the committees to resolve the complex cases within 30 days. The district committees were supposed to oversee the complex cases of the blocked cards and subsequently verify and clear these cases within a specified timeframe.

Almost every Bengali living here demands to be recognised as a Pakistani. As a way to ensure that, they have adopted a collective strategy in the ongoing national census. When official enumerators approach them, they register themselves as speakers of none of the nine languages listed in the census forms. Instead, they list their mother language as ‘others’ since the option of choosing Benagli is not there. And, more importantly, they list their nationality as Pakistani.