Stranded Pakistanis in Bangladesh not Pakistan's responsibility, FO tells SC

Published: March 30, 2015
More than 170,000 Biharis have already been repatriated to Pakistan, says foreign office. PHOTO: AFP

More than 170,000 Biharis have already been repatriated to Pakistan, says foreign office. PHOTO: AFP

More than 170,000 Biharis have already been repatriated to Pakistan, says foreign office. PHOTO: AFP Foreign office in its report claims that large number of Biharis stranded in Bangladesh does not want to be repatriated to Pakistan. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said that the remaining ‘stranded Pakistanis’ in Bangladesh, a majority of whom are Biharis, are not the responsibility of Pakistan as the country has already repatriated a large number of non-Bengalis.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan resumed on Monday the hearing of a petition, filed by the Stranded Pakistanis General Repatriation Committee, regarding the repatriation of Pakistanis currently stranded in Bangladesh. Deputy Attorney General Sohail Mahmood submitted a report on behalf of the foreign office, stating that currently, there are around 400,000 to 500,000 stranded Pakistanis residing in Bangladesh and these remaining people are the responsibility of Bangladesh government.

The foreign office in its report, a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune, claimed that large number of Biharis stranded in Bangladesh do not want to be repatriated to Pakistan. “There is a difference of opinion on their repatriation to Pakistan or otherwise. There are a large number of Bhiharis in Bangladesh who do not want to be repatriated to Pakistan,” said the report.

The reply further states that Pakistan and India in occurrence with Bangladesh, signed an agreement on “repatriation of prisoners of war and civilian internees” on August 28, 1973 in New Dehli, adding that subsequently, on April 9 1974, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh signed a tripartite agreement.

Further, more than 170,000 Biharis have already been repatriated to Pakistan and the repatriation was facilitated by the cabinet division prior to the decisions of the Bangladesh Supreme Court on the status of non-Bengalis, the foreign office said.

The foreign office also submitted copies of the May 2003 and May 2008 verdicts of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, wherein the top Bangladeshi court declared that Biharis are the citizens of Bangladesh and accordingly are eligible and entitled to be enrolled as voters in electoral rolls in the country.

The report also claimed that a large numbers of Biharis even exercised their right of vote during the general elections of Bangladesh in December 2008 and January 2014, adding that many of these people have also acquired Bangladeshi passports.

While terming the plight of non-Bengalis in Bangladesh a ‘humanitarian’ issue, the foreign office said, “Pakistan considers the plight of the non-Begalis a “humanitarian” issue and Pakistan has been providing assistance to Biharis.”

The report further contended that as per schedule –II rule 3(3), item no 2 (25), the repatriation of civilians and civil internees from India and Bangladesh and those stranded in Nepal and other foreign countries, in all other concerned matters etc fall within the domain of the cabinet division.

Earlier, the interior ministry’s reply stated that the foreign ministry would be in a better position to respond regarding the repatriation of 300,000 Pakistanis stranded in some 70 camps in Bangladesh.

The reply stated that under clause (i) of sub section (1) of section 16-A of the Pakistan citizenship Act 1951, all those persons in those territories, which before December 16, 1971 constituted the province of East Pakistan, residing since that day, voluntarily or otherwise, shall cease to be citizens of Pakistan.

It also states, however, that those who have not been repatriated before March 18, 1978, and whose repatriation has been agreed by the federal government, shall continue to be citizens of Pakistan as provided under provision to clause (iv) of sub section 1 of section 16-A of the Citizenship Act 1951.

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Reader Comments (32)

  • Mar 30, 2015 - 10:14PM

    Only people in Indian held Kashmir is our responsibility.Recommend

  • Woz Ahmed
    Mar 30, 2015 - 10:45PM

    This is disgusting.

    These people were loyal to Pakistan and still are and we have abandoned them.

    In a population of 200 million, half a million people who fought for us and have loyalty to us, more than many ethnics groups in our state, I am saddened.

    Why are we fighting for Kasmir for the love of the people or territory ?

    Religious minorities are declining in our state, as they emigrate, surely there is space for loyal Muslims, if not why were we created ?Recommend

    Mar 31, 2015 - 12:01AM

    Mulla Umar left his government but did not sell his friend in true muslim tradition. The elites of Pakistan are corrupt and have no morality that is why they will not stand for anybody but their own selves. The stranded Pakistanis in former East Pakistan are Pakistanis 100%. May Allah guide us all and relieve us of the secular elite that rules Pakistan today. Recommend

  • NY
    Mar 31, 2015 - 12:27AM

    The people living in Pakistan are not even Pakistan’s responsibility, let alone the people stranded in Bangladesh. Recommend

  • Pakistani
    Mar 31, 2015 - 1:25AM


    Are the 3m Afghans, 2m Bengalis in pakistan illegally your responsibility then?

    Bring them HOME.Recommend

  • Sarfraz Khan
    Mar 31, 2015 - 1:39AM

    Welcome to the government of Nawaz Sharif, where Saudi protection is our job, but Pakistanis aren’t.Recommend

  • wb
    Mar 31, 2015 - 4:35AM

    Kashmiris should take note. This is what Pakistan does to its citizens (and non citizens).

    The day AJK really wants azadi from Pakistan will be the day of another massive genocide.Recommend

  • zara
    Mar 31, 2015 - 5:09AM

    Bring them back losers. Ill smash your jaws.Recommend

  • zara
    Mar 31, 2015 - 5:10AM

    @Woz Ahmed:
    Religious minorities are not declining. Just stop writing lies. What kind of propagands spewing minds u have.Recommend

  • Dr. Shafique
    Mar 31, 2015 - 5:14AM

    If Pakistan is unwilling to even claim the dead bodies of its soldiers killed in action, as it happened in the last Kargil war, it is not surprising that our politicians do not want to take back these Biharis who have been languishing in uncertainty over their future in Bangladesh. What a wretched twist of irony ! Your country does not want you – dead or alive – even if you sacrifice your life for it. Recommend

  • vasan
    Mar 31, 2015 - 6:48AM

    KAshmiris should learn from this as to what Pak will do to them incase they opt for pakistan. Recommend

  • Pakistan Needs a Batman
    Mar 31, 2015 - 7:17AM

    Can we please get the truth once and for all? The Bihari people obtaining the Bangladeshi passports is contrary to what has been reported in ET and other print media. It is a sigh of relief if they have been recognized by the Bangladeshi government, but if it’s the opposite, then they are Pakistani state’s responsibility – and MoFA cannot and must not abandon them. Recommend

  • zara haq
    Mar 31, 2015 - 7:23AM

    they are our responsibilty . Just cut the crap short FO.
    Bring them home. They are ours,Recommend

  • IndianDude
    Mar 31, 2015 - 7:30AM

    Jihah must be turning in his grave. As he was the one who wanted Pakistan as a sanctuary for the Indian muslim! Oh..the irony!Recommend

  • JSM
    Mar 31, 2015 - 8:08AM

    “The report also claimed that a large numbers of Biharis even exercised their right of vote during the general elections of Bangladesh in December 2008 and January 2014, adding that many of these people have also acquired Bangladeshi passports.”

    In their statement above. Pakistan Foreign Office has contended that Pakistanis stranded in Bangladesh are citizens of Bangladesh.Does it not settle Indian case for Kashmir.Recommend

  • Chachoo
    Mar 31, 2015 - 8:19AM

    None of the so called stranded Pakistanis after the creation of Bangladesh carried Pakistani passports. These Biharis are simply refusing to be a part of Bangladesh despite the fact that Bangladesh has now offered them residence.
    So technically they are not stranded at all. Stranded means that these people have the Pakistani passport after the independance war and that is not the case here. So Supreme court decision is absolutely right. Pakistan is already crowded and no province can absorb another bunch of 500,000. No one is Sindh apart from some in Karachi can allow that unhindered migration.
    Ask a Local Sindhi atleast for once before providing the land of Sindhis to new arrivals. Recommend

  • TruthSeeker
    Mar 31, 2015 - 8:24AM

    Wow at Judge and his interest in this case! He is not taking interest in the issues of people living in Pak serious but still thinking about Biharis in Bengladesh. A biased judge indeed.Recommend

  • GI Joes
    Mar 31, 2015 - 9:45AM

    Honest question: Who in their right mind wants to acquire Pakistani citizenship anyways? These people should be given Bangladesh citizenship and provided economic relief due to being oppressed by their government for decades. Recommend

  • Gradiator
    Mar 31, 2015 - 10:37AM

    Dream on. As always, a rabid Indian fails to look beyond the tip of his own nose! AJK is empowered and privileged in Pakistan. Unlike in India, Pakistan doesn’t have 700,000 soldiers pointing their guns at Kashmiris.Recommend

  • zara
    Mar 31, 2015 - 10:49AM

    No it doesnt.
    If in your dreams thats your flippin’ issue. Wont change realities.
    And failure to face reality is amazing. Kashmir can choose to be with india,pakistan or free independent. But expansionist despotic mindsets would never see that.
    oh no worries btw. I dont expect much from dummies.Recommend

  • Feroz
    Mar 31, 2015 - 10:55AM

    So much hogwash flying in the face of facts available with the government. These stranded Bihari’s claim they are Pakistani citizens and have rejected the offer of citizenship by Bangladesh. It is not Bangladesh which can settle this problem but Pakistan who refuses to accept its citizens. Pakistani rulers have proved that paying lip service to Muslim Ummah is nothing but propaganda strategy, only land is what they covet as in Kashmir — people are irrelevant. Recommend

    Mar 31, 2015 - 11:24AM

    @Gradiator: well said! pakistani troops are pointing guns at fellow Balochis and Pakhtuns, Rangers are pointing their guns at innocent Karachi boys, the Frontier constabulary… Oh you get the drill. Recommend

  • TN
    Mar 31, 2015 - 11:39AM

    Almost 50 years and still talking about stranded Pakistanis.
    Give me a break!Recommend

  • Fawad
    Mar 31, 2015 - 12:02PM

    Our government disowns our own people. Shame on Nawaz sharif government. Recommend

  • Libra
    Mar 31, 2015 - 1:31PM

    We are responsible for whole world but not for our own. Foreign Office also needs to clarify as with what parameters they are not the responsibility of Pakistan. They were Pakistani national living in geographical limits of Pakistan when they fought to save Pakistan in 1971. This is a classical example as how people who scarified themselves are abandoned by their own.Recommend

  • Altaf Hussain, Mumbai
    Mar 31, 2015 - 2:37PM

    Bihari Muslims of East Pakistan who were the grass-root cadres of Al Badr and Al Shams, the ones who in 1971 fought with their lives for Pakistan, are not the responsibility of Pakistan. However, territorial integrity of Saudia is. Good thinking indeed ! Recommend

  • Mar 31, 2015 - 4:58PM

    According to Wikipedia:
    Main article: Law of Return
    The Law of Return is legislation enacted by Israel in 1950, that gives all Jews, persons of Jewish ancestry, and spouses of Jews the right to immigrate to and settle in Israel and obtain citizenship, and obliges the Israeli government to facilitate their immigration. Originally, the law applied to Jews only, until a 1970 amendment stated that the rights “are also vested in a child and a grandchild of a Jew, the spouse of a Jew, the spouse of a child of a Jew and the spouse of a grandchild of a Jew”. This resulted in several hundreds of thousands of persons fitting the above criteria immigrating to Israel (mainly from the former Soviet Union) but not being recognized as Jews by the Israeli religious authorities, which on the basis of halakha recognize only the child of a Jewish mother as being Jewish. Moreover, some of these immigrants, though having a Jewish grandparent, are known to be practicing Christians. People who would be otherwise eligible for this law can be excluded if they can reasonably be considered to constitute a danger to the welfare of the state, have a criminal past, or are wanted fugitives in their countries with the exception of persecution victims. Jews who converted to another religion can also be denied the right of return. Since 1950 2,734,245 Jews have immigrated to Israel.

    Hopefully, ET does not find the quote too long to be published.Recommend

  • Anoni
    Mar 31, 2015 - 5:18PM

    india troll spotted that spit venomRecommend

  • S.R.H. Hashmi
    Mar 31, 2015 - 7:52PM

    Poets are people who base their creations on exaggeration and this is what has given rise to the term ‘poeteic exaggeration.’ This is the concession granted to poets which enables them to see female beauty in ‘boota sa qad’ (Smallness in height) as also in ‘sarv qad’ (tallness).

    But the judges are not poets and once they had dismissed the petition on the gounds that ‘the petitioner had no locus standi as the organization is unregistered and the counsel for petitioner, Rashidul Haq Qazi, failed to satisfy with his arguments if is registered,’ the judges should have left it at that, without making further observations.

    The second injustice seems to have been done when the petition filed by approximately 300,000 stranded Pakistan in Bangladesh, filed through the president of Stranded Pakistanis General Repatriation Committee of Bangladesh was taken up for hearing not a week, a month or even a year later, but full six years after its was filed.

    The third injustice arises when the report mentions ‘at least 300,000 stranded Pakistanis from Bangladesh as mostly ‘Biharis’. Recently government brought back about five hundred Pakistanis stranded in Yemen, but their ethnicities were nowhere mentioned in the news reports. So, why for the Pakistanis stranded in Bangladesh, it became essential to refer to their ethnicity as Biharis?

    Fourthly, the statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs ‘that the remaining ‘stranded Pakistanis’ in Bangladesh are not the responsibility of Pakistan as the country has already repatriated a large number of non-Bengalis’ sounds rather illogical since they all either deserved to be repatriated or they did not. In any case, it was a question of just about 300,000 people whose arrival would hardly have changed the demography of a country of over 200 million people, which accommodates around three million Afghan refugees.

    It is bad enough that the government of Pakistan fails to meet its legal obligation to its citizens stranded in Bangladesh and leaves them to languish in sub-human conditions. What is even worse is the officials’ attempt to justify this utterly shameful conduct as the rightful course.


  • Pakistani
    Mar 31, 2015 - 8:00PM

    If the punjabis were stranded in Indian Punjab, Pak Government would have repatrited them in no time. , Recommend

  • RHS
    Apr 1, 2015 - 8:17AM

    It saddens me to read this article. Pakistan was supposed to mean something. Recommend

  • Kushal
    Apr 1, 2015 - 5:08PM

    Why the theory applicable for Behari’s in Bangladesh is not applicable for Kashmir? Oh I see, you have hypocrisy all over in your blood.Recommend

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