The election manifestos of nearly all the political parties have somehow forgotten to raise the most haunting historical issue: the settlement of East Pakistan’s Biharis (not even considered Pakistanis) in Pakistan. …. These immigrants supported the Pakistani army, sided with the West Pakistani establishment and contended that they had migrated to a homeland for Indian Muslims, not to a country based on Bengali nationalism, and went against the roughest of tides. In return, the Bangladeshi nationalist militias hunted them down during and after the bloodbath of 1971.
Those who could not leave after the fall of Dhaka have now lived in excruciating conditions in the refugee camps of Dhaka for decades. Many have died a natural death, and a whole new generation has grown up, married, and produced children; all under the illusion that a day will come when they will set foot on their cherished homeland Pakistan.
Pakistan houses millions of refugees and illegal migrant workers, but unfortunately these two hundred thousand men, women and children cannot be accommodated. These people continue to pay the price for their forefathers who were on the wrong side of the political divide many years ago. Who will fight for these forgotten souls remains a question for a country that is still struggling to arrest further disintegration.
DR IRFAN ZAFAR