Pakistan’s new Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday pledged to offer Pakistani citizenship to Afghans born in his country, according to local media reports.
Imran Khan said that the government will issue national identity cards and passports to immigrants from Bangladesh and Afghanistan. He made the remarks during his maiden visit to Karachi city on Sunday.
“Afghans whose children have been raised and born in Pakistan will be granted citizenship inshallah (God willing) because this is the established practice in countries around the world. You get an American passport if you are born in America,” Khan said who took office last month.
The Pakistani PM said that the identity crisis of thousands of Bengali and Afghan immigrants is pushing them to crime.
“Terrorism and target killing has declined in Karachi but there is a major reason behind the street crimes. It is an underclass. They are illiterate and jobless. They are the Bengalis and Afghans who are living in Pakistan.”
“These immigrants have lived here for decades, their children were born here, but they don’t have identity cards and passports,” he said as cited by Pakistan’s Samaa TV.
This comes as according to the United Nations refugee agency there are 2.7 million Afghans, including 1.5 million registered as refugees, in Pakistan. Most of the displaced families have fled decades of conflict, poverty and economic hardship in war-weary Afghanistan.
Survey reports by the United Nations, meanwhile show, at least 60 percent of Afghan refugees were either born in Pakistan or were minors when their parents migrated to the country.