Pakistan hosts a number of stateless persons including Bengali speaking, Bihari and Rohingya communities, mainly concentrated in the metropolitan city of Karachi. Individuals are either stateless or at risk of statelessness due to unresolved nationality issues. As access to basic services in Pakistan is increasingly dependent on the possession of identity cards (a computerized ID card for Pakistani nationals), the situation of this population is particularly challenging.

Pakistan is not a party to 1954 and 1961 statelessness conventions nor does it have its own specific national legislation/mechanism to address statelessness. Therefore, stateless persons remain unidentified and their protection needs unattended. This is despite having citizenship laws that provide for birthright citizenship irrespective of origin of parents, and a clause that specifically deals with the separation of East Pakistan and the Bihari and Bengali speaking population. One of the major hurdles is the non-implementation of law.

Statelessness impacts by trappings people in poverty cycles, affecting several generations and that remain stateless and marginalsed without access to basic human rights. The lack of nationality the cause for the following issues:

  • Difficulties accessing education and employment;
  • Lack of work potential and opportunities;
  • Lack of opportunities to own or register a business;
  • Restricted property rights;
  • Limited access to a bank account or a loan;
  • Threat of extortion, detention or expulsion;

Imkaan Legal Aid Centre with its main offices in Machar Colony serves the marginalized and underprivileged stateless communities in Karachi by reducing challenges in accessing justice and basic services.

The project focuses on:

  • Legal assistance and advice to stateless persons and pro-bono legal representation;
  • Advocacy, awareness raising and sensitization with governmental and semi-governmental organizations;
  • Community outreach and awareness sessions empowering the community to understand their rights.
  • Advocacy, awareness and training in stateless communities about working with the systems and managing their citizenship process.
  • Creating relationships between Imkaan Legal Aid Centre and between communities for furtherance of rights of stateless populations.

For more information about the project, please contact info@imkaan.org

We look forward to support from interested individuals to continue serving the community of Machar Colony. For more information on how to you can help us, please visit the donate page.

Community awareness and participation is the core of each of Imkaans projects. Learn more about this initiative.