100,000 illegal Indians live in Karachi
By Khurrum Anis
KARACHI: There are more than 100,000 Indians living illegally in Karachi, according to an unreleased government document.
According to “The Afzal Shikri Report,” which has been conducted by an ex-serviceman of the National Aliens Registration Authority (NARA), 48,464 Indian nationals were registered by the Foreigners Registration Office (FRO) when they entered Pakistan through the Wagah border between 1990 and 1995. The report, of which Daily Times learned some details through sources, is said to be the only detailed study on the presence of illegal foreigners in Pakistan.
The report says 163,505 Indian entrants are unaccounted for. The ultimate destination of most Indians who enter Pakistan with the intention of staying on is believed to be Karachi. Karachi is host to nearly 1.5 million illegal residents, the majority of whom are Bengalis. Burmese are the second-largest community. “Of those who have been registered, all are Bengalis,” NARA director Mazhar Ali Shaikh said. He said there were several reasons for people’s reluctance to register with the authority. Some are afraid of being arrested by police, while some others believe they are already Pakistanis because they were born in this country.
According to the Citizenship Act of 1951, an immigrant has to register with the Pakistani government to become a citizen of this country, Shaikh said.
The Act was amended in 1978 for those Bengalis who did not opt for Bangladesh when it came into being in 1971. They were told to apply to register themselves with their nearest magistrate for a E-1 citizenship certificate. Shaikh said those Bengalis who came to Pakistan after 1978 can only attain citizenship through the procedure of registration for all immigrants.
Shaikh said the illegal foreigners should not be afraid of NARA. Their registration with the authority will qualify them for naturalization and citizenship. They will have a better life to lead once they register with this authority, he said.