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  • Last Update : 04:24 pm

We are all Bangladeshis now

  • Published at 03:40 am May 16th, 2013
We are all Bangladeshis now

The Pakistani election earlier this month reminded us that we still have unresolved issues with regard to the so-called "stranded Pakistanis" who live in camps in Dhaka's Mohammadpur area and elsewhere around the country. It is time we let go of the past and officially welcome them into the fold.

Some would have us believe that the Geneva camp area in Mohammadpur and the others are a little slice of Pakistan, and those who live there are still loyal to the idea of East Pakistan instead of a liberated Bangladesh.

These thoughts are extremely out-dated. If one were to speak to the younger generation of inhabitants, they will find that these young men and women were born in Bangladesh, and identify themselves as Bangladeshis.  They espouse our culture, they speak Bangla, and contribute to our economy. By any reasonable definition of the term, they are Bangladeshi.

The outcome of the Pakistani election was less interesting to them than the latest cricket results.

In light of this, the time is long past for them to be accorded not just full rights, but full acceptance, as citizens.

The status quo that has been maintained all these years should be re-evaluated and they should be allowed to enjoy all the benefits of citizenship, free from any discrimination.

This discrimination extends to many areas of their lives including education, as many in the camp do not have the opportunity to enrol in public schools, and the lack in provision of public services to the areas where these marginalised citizens live. It would go a long way to change this if there was an official move to syncretise this group.

Why should they be held responsible for the decisions made by their fathers or grandfathers?

In a time when we as a nation seem to be more and more polarised, why should we maintain this forced division that has no logical or pragmatic basis.

It is time to put things right and not continue this injustice.

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