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Govt starts collecting data of refugees, illegal immigrants

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari on Tuesday informed the National Assembly that the government has started process to collect the data of refugees, un-registered refugees and illegal immigrants.

The minister stated this while responding to a Calling Attention Notice regarding proposal to give citizenship of Pakistan to the refugees and illegal migrants residing in Pakistan.

She said that the data will be collected with the assistance of UNHCR and local agencies and it will be shared with the National Assembly. “First time the government had started the collection of data, while government in the past had never touched this important issue” she added.

She said that a policy regarding the future status of refugees and immigrants will be devised after consultation with the opposition parties.

The minister said this matter involves a lot of legal, political and humanitarian obligations, which will be considered before taking final decision on the citizenship.

She said the issue of Beharis is different from those of Afghan refugees. The minister also agreed with the suggestion of BNP-M leader Muhammad Akhtar Mengal to hold debate in the National Assembly. “We are ready to hold debate on the issue, but the opposition should also come with suggestions and proposals to resolve the issue as we cannot linger on this important issue any more” she added.

She said that if the opposition wants amendment in Citizenship Act, the government is ready to move forward with consensus.

The minister said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had announced to give citizenship to refugees and immigrants on humanitarian grounds, but she said that the policy will be devised after consultation with the political parties.

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