Afghanistan, Afghan refugee, Pakistan, citizenship, Afghan refugee Pakistan

Child of Afghan refugee seeks Pakistani citizenship

Twenty-year-old man was sitting in a gemstone bazaar in Peshawar when he heard Prime Minister Imran Khan say the government will grant citizenship to the children of Afghan, Bengali-speaking and Burmese refugees.

The gemstone trader, who was born to Afghan refugees in Peshawar in 1998, was relieved as he finally felt he would now be able would be able to enjoy the same rights as other people born in Pakistan.

The people around him and the State have always treated him as an ‘Afghan refugee’, when he is neither Afghan nor a refugee. He hasn’t even been to Afghanistan and has spent most of his life in Peshawar, reported SamaaTV.

After the PM’s statement, he submitted an application to NADRA in October 2019 but it was rejected on the basis of his parents’ ethnicity. He was told that the authority has no system to grant citizenship to people whose parents are not from Pakistan. He then filed an application in the Islamabad High Court in February seeking Pakistani citizenship. Notices were also issued to NADRA.

The case was last heard by Chief Justice Athar Minallah who had allowed the lawyers to filed written arguments. They were submitted on Saturday.

F’s lawyer, Umer Gillani, has argued that the petitioner has the right to citizenship under Article (2) of the Citizenship Act, 1951. The law states that “every person born in Pakistan after the commencement of this Act shall be a citizen of Pakistan by birth”. There are, however, only two exceptions to the rule: the children of diplomats and the children of enemy soldiers born on occupied territory.

NADRA is legally obliged to issue a CNIC to all people above the age of 18 who have obtained a proper birth certificate. Since the petitioner has fulfilled both conditions, NADRA’s refusal is violation of its legal duty under Section 10 of the NADRA Ordinance, it has been argued.

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