British freelance writer questions Pakistan's hypocrisy over Rohingya issue

ANI | Updated: Sep 25, 2017 13:42 IST

Islamabad [Pakistan], Sept. 25 (ANI): A British freelance writer and photographer currently based in Pakistan has questioned Islamabad's hypocrisy over the Rohingya issue and said that the crisis in Myanmar has brought into focus the deplorable plight of Pakistan's own Rohingya population.

"Most Rohingyas in Pakistan have been unable to obtain citizenship and many do not even have a national identity card, preventing them from access to public schools, government run healthcare and such everyday things as opening a bank account," Usman Ahmad said in an opinion piece published in The Diplomat.

Explaining about Rohingyas living in Pakistan, he said an estimated to number 500,000 Rohingya families first settled in the port city of Karachi in 1962 after the coup d'etat which marked the beginning of authoritarian rule in the country and their numbers increased during the 1980s as the military regime of General Zia ul Haq brought them over to study in madrassas and participate in the Afghan jihad.

Highlighting the plight of Rohingyas in Pakistan, the writer said the visceral effects can be seen in the slummy neighborhoods of Karachi which the Rohingya mainly inhabit and which are deprived of the most basic facilities forcing the community to live in squalor.

"There are other frequent hostilities: one of the chief complaints of Karachi's Rohingya is the routine harassment they face from the city's police for their lack of valid documents and local crime," he said.

Ahmad questioned as to what tolerance can Pakistan expect from Myanmar for its Muslim minorities when it is unwilling to apply similar levels of tolerance back homw?

"In truth, this question possesses little value as few if any in Pakistan will be able to recognize its legitimacy. The vast majority of Pakistanis have given over to an entrenched and self-perpetuating narrative that mirrors the same notions of identity which the Burmese use to justify their oppression of the Rohingya," he said.

" Driven by the idea that Pakistan is a bastion of Islam, the rights and needs of Muslims trump all others as any potential sympathy for minorities is removed lest it undermine the wider Muslim cause. The real danger though lies in this way of thinking and Pakistan would do well to remember the extremism bred from its own culture when it champions the rights of oppressed people elsewhere," he further said.

Rohingyas are trying to fled Myanmar due to violence in the Rakhine state that has claimed lives of at least 100 people and displaced more than 2, 00,000.

Myanmar troops launched a crackdown in the Rakhine state in response to attacks on three border posts on October 9 that killed nine police officers, since then many Rohingya Muslims have tried to move into Bangladesh illegally.

Following a Rohingya rebel attack that killed 12 security forces last month, the military launched "clearance operations" that left 400-3000 dead and many more injured and over 400,000 Rohingyas fleeing to Bangladesh.

Rohingyas are not recognised by Myanmar as its citizens and are called Bengali by them. (ANI)