x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Pakistan authorities try to verify Baluchis' rights to citizenship

Stateless Baluchis seek Pakistani citizenship.

ABU DHABI // The Pakistan embassy has been trying to confirm citizenship for a few dozen stateless people from the province of Baluchistan in Pakistan.

These Baluchis have been in the UAE for decades, following the migration of grandparents. They have no documents to prove nationality, and are trying to gain Pakistani citizenship.

Jamil Ahmed Khan, the ambassador, said: "These are very difficult cases so physical verification is going on and we are awaiting reply from Islamabad."

According to embassy records, more than 7,000 Baluchis living in the Emirates, among a Pakistani population of 1.2 million.

"But only a few dozen do not have any documents with them," Mr Khan said. "Fewer than 20 persons approached us and we are processing their cases."

He said the applicants had been living in the UAE for so long, they had not even registered with the embassy.

"In fact, we have accommodated all Baluchis who had some evidence of their origin in Pakistan. Those who didn't have any origin in Pakistan, we sent those cases to the Ministry of Interior to physically verify and authorise Pakistani passports."

Baluchis make up a significant part of the Pakistani community in the UAE, and have made many contributions to the development of the country in different sectors, the ambassador said.

"They are the oldest community of Pakistan[is] living here. Some of them are living here for the last 100 years. Their grandfathers came to the Emirates and started living here," he said. "If they have documents, we don't have any problem, but most of them in that category don't have that." .

There are two parts to verification of origin. One must present evidence that he, or a relative, is registered in Pakistan's central data bank. For those who have no blood relations in Pakistan, the embassy asks for documents that are then sent to Islamabad for authentication.

anwar@thenational.ae