February 28, 2020
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"We Have No Liability Towards Them"

An interview with Pakistan Interior Minister Maj - General(Retd) Naseerullah Babar, who contends that Pakistan is not going to accept the Biharis,and suggests they sould try to assimilate into Bangladeshi society.

"We Have No Liability Towards Them"
What are the problems faced by the Pakistanis living in camps in Bangladesh?

None at all. After 24 years, almost three more generations have come up. We have no liability towards them. What we did for their repatriation was due to the Islamic Summit. There was an agreement that a certain number of them should be brought here. A far greater number has been brought to Pakistan. It cannot possibly take the entire population of Biharis.

How many Biharis are still stranded in Bangladesh?

I do not remember the exact number. During Nawaz Sharif's government some families were brought here and a colony established in Mian Channu in Punjab. But now, except for the very few families still there, most of them have shifted to Karachi. This has been the pattern all along. That is why there is a major deterioration in the law and order situation there.

But can Karachi afford the large number of illegal immigrants who are already living here?

Why should I add to the problem instead of getting rid of the existing ones? We have no liability because the situation in 1971 was very different to the one now.

Is it not the Pakistani Government's responsibility to bring them back since they were its citizens?

That is another misplaced belief. How can I hope that they would assimilate into the society here. The problem of East Pakistan, to a large extent, was due to the Biharis because they came and took over all the good jobs and trade, leaving the Bengalis to face economic deprivation.

Are the Biharis not being brought back since those here support the Mohajir Qaumi Movement?

When I said I did not want to aggravate the situation in Karachi that was what I was trying to imply.

What is the message of the Pakistani Government to the Biharis in Bangladesh?

They have been there for 24 years and I feel that they should get assimilated into the country. After all, in Bangladesh all of them are Muslims.

Sindh is considered to be a stronghold of Benazir Bhutto. Is it true that she is against bringing the Biharis back fearing it would eat into her vote bank?

I am not a Sindhi, but in a pragmatic and practical manner no one has said the things in so many words as I have. We do not want to aggravate the situation in Karachi. They (the Biharis) are going to create problems. Instead they should try and assimilate themselves into the Bangladeshi society. in Karachi

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