PPP's Nafeesa Shah, Mazari argue over immigrants' citizenship, Karachi situation

Shah says PM unaware of Karachi's sensitivity, its natives; Mazari responds, 'Thankfully, they felt Karachi's pain'


ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) lawmaker Nafeesa Shah and Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari, during a session of the National Assembly on Tuesday, argued over giving citizenship to immigrants and the situation in Karachi.

The minister for human rights was responding to call attention notices by Hina Rabbani Khar, Akhtar Mengal and others.

Speaking about Prime Minister Imran Khan's statement on giving citizenship to immigrants, Mazari said the prime minister gave a policy suggestion on the matter, adding, "There are some legal matters and any decision will be made on the recommendations of the parliamentary committee."

She said that international conventions, including Organisation of Islamic Cooperation's human rights commission, demand immigrants' rights, whilst they also have the model of the state of Madina present in the Islamic history.

Rejecting Mazari's reply, Khar said how could the prime minister issue such an "irresponsible statement" without consultation with provinces and political leadership.

Mazari responded to Khar saying that it was no irresponsible statement, noting that the government has the policy of giving citizenship to children born in the country. She, however, said the government would address all reservations on the issue.

PPP's Nafeesa Shah lamented that government functionaries quote example of the state of Madina in every matter, questioning, if they knew Saudi Arabia does not give nationality to any foreigner.

While advising the PPP member to "go through the history", Mazari said that the mention of state of Madina does not refer to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Shah hit back saying that the prime minister is unaware of Karachi's sensitivity and its natives.

At this, Mazari said, "Thankfully, they felt Karachi's pain. The PPP has been ruling in Sindh for the past 10 years."

Meanwhile, Mengal suggested if this was a national issue then it should be debated in the House.

He, however, said that there is no count of immigrants available, claiming that even a member of the Afghan cricket team is also a Pakistani citizen.

Mazari backed the suggestion of a debate in the assembly and urged the members to present their suggestions in this regard.

Earlier this month, PM Khan sought recommendations from parliamentarians over the government's proposal to grant citizenship to all Afghan and Bengali children born in the country.

Speaking on the floor of the National Assembly, the prime minister said, "A final decision has not yet been made in this regard and the proposal is up for discussion."

"I will keep asking this question that these people who are living here what is their future?" he said. "Children born in Pakistan have the right to be called Pakistani."

Khan asserted, "As per the 1951 law, all those born in the country have the right to its citizenship. This law is followed in various countries, including Europe."

He, however, reassured the House that the government would seek recommendations from all parliamentarians and consult them before taking a decision.