KARACHI: Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan on Sunday announced that his government will provide citizenship to the children of Afghan refugees and refugees from Bangladesh.
The prime minister said this while addressing a fund-raising dinner in Karachi for the construction of Diamer-Bhasha Dam.
It is pertinent to mention here that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government had blocked the computerised national identity cards (CNICs) of Pashtuns, primarily Afghan refugees. Earlier this month, a protest was held by Afghans outside Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Zaman Park residence demanding the prime minister’s intervention in the matter.
The protesters had said due to the cancellation of the ID cards, they were facing various problems, including those regarding enrolment of their children in schools.
PM Khan had the NADRA chairman to meet the protesters and resolve their issues.
The chairman had said that the main reason behind the blocking of ID cards was that they were obtained through fraud.
Moreover, the four provinces have reportedly expressed concern and said that they were unwilling to accommodate undocumented and illegal Afghan refugees.
This was expressed in a high-profile inter-ministerial meeting held on Sunday by Ministry of States and Frontier Regions, which was also attended by representatives from state agencies. Security concerns were reportedly cited as the reasons for the provinces’ stance on the matter.
Pakistan hosts around 1.38 million registered Afghan refugees, according to the UNHCR. However, there are scores of unregistered Afghan refugees as well which takes the number well above three million, making Pakistan recipient of the most number of refugees in the world. The migration began in December 1989 as a result of the Afghan war against the Soviets and has continued since then until recently when repatriation of these refugees began under the supervision of the UN.
However, the repatriates, especially the children of Afghan refugees, consider Pakistan as their home since they have been living here for decades now.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, who is on his maiden visit to Karachi as the premier, Sunday stated that keeping Karachi’s law and order situation stable was the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government’s top priority.
The prime minister expressed these views during a session which he chaired at the State Guest House regarding the law and order situation in Karachi.
Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, Karachi Corps Commander Lt Gen Humayun Aziz, Sindh Governor Imran Ismael, and Sindh chief secretary attended the session. Rangers DG Major General Muhammad Saeed, Sindh IGP and intelligence agencies’ officials were also present in the meeting.
During the briefing given by Sindh IGP and Rangers DG, it was said that the rate of serious crimes in the metropolis has gone down by 90 per cent.
The prime minister said that the law and order situation of Karachi has improved significantly, which is primarily due to the sacrifices rendered by the law enforcement agencies. The premier, however, expressed concern over the reported surge in street crime in the metropolis and called for coordinated efforts to eliminate such criminal activities.
PM Khan also took strong exception to the cases of abduction of children in the city and directed to take coordinated action against abductors. He further asked the authorities to recover the abducted children urgently and provide relief to the parents.
The prime minister further said that Karachi is the financial hub of the country and economic progress is not possible without peace and stability.
The prime minister appreciated measures being taken for cleanliness in the metropolis. He directed that the efforts be expedited in order to provide relief to the people.
The premier was also briefed on Karachi’s water crisis in a meeting also attended by Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar and Commissioner Saleh Farooqi.
In the meeting, the PM was informed of the K-4 water supply project’s progress, and also told that Karachi’s daily water need now stands at 918 million gallons.
GOVT CAN’T MAKE WATER RELATED ALLOCATIONS IN BUDGET:
Speaking at the fund-raiser dinner for Diamer-Bhasha Dam at Governor House, Prime Minister Imran Khan highlighted the issue of water scarcity facing the country.
“Water per capita availability in the country has dropped from approximately 5,000 cubic metres to 1,000 cubic metres per year,” he said, warning that if this continued, there will be massive water shortage by 2025 leading to a decrease in food production and decreasing food security.
“Those who say that dams should not be built, I would like to quote them some statistics. China, the country that is progressing at the fastest pace in the world, has 84,000 dams, including 5,000 big dams. India, too, has 5,000 dams and they are still building more. And we only have two major dams.”
The premier highlighted that the government is under heavy debt due to which it is not possible for the government to make water-related allocations from the budget. He said that is why the government has embarked on fundraising.
The prime minister also thanked Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Saqib Nisar for taking the initiative to address water scarcity in the country.
“It’s not the chief justice’s responsibility but a matter for the government to solve. As a representative of the public, I thank him for taking a lead in the campaign,” he said.
PM Khan said that each year, the government has to collect Rs30 billion to reach its target in the next five years. “I am very much sure that we will meet all our targets as I can see that the nation has mobilised,” he added.
President Arif Alvi, Finance Minister Asad Umar and Sindh Governor Imran Ismail were also present in the event.
SINDH GOVT EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER TRANSFER OF HIGH RANKING OFFICIALS:
Meanwhile, CM Shah in a meeting with the prime minister expressed reservations over the transfer of high ranking officials without prior notice by the federal government.
Shah also expressed his concerns regarding the deductions in Sindh’s financial resources, telling the PM, “Sindh is already facing financial problems. If the funds are stopped at the federal level, Sindh will face further losses.”
The CM claimed that “a desalination plant is the sole solution to Karachi’s water crisis” and urged “the federal government to help them in this regard”.
MQM-P DEMANDS $5b FOR KARACHI’s DEVELOPMENT:
Furthermore, PM Imran Khan met leaders of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) during his visit.
Speaking to media after the meeting, MQM-P leader Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui said that party’s leadership discussed a range of issues pertaining to Karachi and Sindh with the prime minister.
The prime minister was apprised about MQM-P’s reservation on the result of the census, the case of missing persons and the overall situation in Karachi, he added.
“Karachi needs $5 billion for development,” Siddiqui said, adding that the city should get the package it deserves.
“The cities of Sindh are being neglected for the past 70 years. We have presented Karachi’s case to the prime minister,” said the MQM-P leader.
Earlier, PM Khan reached Karachi on his first official one-day visit to to the metropolis, almost a month after he took oath as the prime minister of the country.
Sindh Governor Imran Ismail and CM Murad Ali Shah received the PM at Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport.
The PM offered prayers and laid a floral wreath at the Quaid’s mausoleum following which visited the Governor House. He also visited Liaquat Ali Khan and Fatima Jinnah’s graves.
PM Imran also met President Arif Alvi.