By Dr. Ali Al-Ghamdi
22 July 2015
EVERY human being has the right to enjoy all the privileges of the country where he lives. Similarly, he too must defend it heart and soul and sacrifice everything for its dignity and independence. This fact applies to the Pakistanis who have gotten stranded in Bangladesh since the latter came into existence in place of East Pakistan, following a nine-month civil war and the eventual break up of Pakistan.
During the civil war, these Pakistanis fought alongside the Pakistani army to preserve the unity of Pakistan to which they chose to immigrate after the partition of the Indian Subcontinent.
The Muslims who moved from India to East or West Pakistan became Pakistanis and decided to defend Pakistan because it was their duty to do so. This is exactly what happened to the Bihari Muslims who immigrated to East Pakistan and speak Urdu. They supported the Pakistani army and its unity and fought tooth and nail for it and sacrificed their lives and money.
When the war was over and Bangladesh came into existence, the army returned to Pakistan while the Bihari Muslims were left behind to a murky fate as Bangladesh treated them as traitors and kicked them out of their homes. They live today in miserable camps that do not have the basic necessities of a decent life in the hope that they would be repatriated to Pakistan — the country they sacrificed everything for, the country, which promised them time and again it would take them back. But the promises have never been fulfilled, unfortunately.
I had to write this long introduction before speaking about the symposium held recently by the Forum of Pakistani Engineers in conjunction with the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The symposium focused on the scientific and engineering development in Pakistan and was run by Masroor Elahi. It started with recitation of verses from the Holy Qur'an and was attended by female engineers and many women. Dr. Shawkat Hameed Khan was the main speaker, who shed light on the latest scientific developments in Pakistan in all fields and how Pakistan catapulted to the seventh rank in the field of engineering science and technology.
Pakistan's economy ranks 24th globally and will jump to 12th by 2030. Khan also focused on the China-Pakistan Economic corridor linking Gwadar Port with China's Zhanjiang Port running for 3,000 kms. He presented a paper on the 21st century incentives, opportunities, and challenges while Altaf Hussein talked about his book dealing with the contributions Muslims scientists made and the imprints they have left on modern science.
The Pakistani Consul-General Aftab Khokher praised the role the forum plays in bringing out the talents and potentials of Pakistanis and how they contribute to developing the country. Regarding the Rohingya Muslims, he said, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) should deal with the plight of those Muslims. He stressed it is in the national interest of Pakistan to find a solution to the Kashmir conflict in line with the United Nations resolutions.
Abdulaleem Khan, president of the forum, talked about the forum's role in shedding light on and sponsoring the abilities and talents of young people in the Kingdom.
When it was my turn to speak, I started off by thanking those who organized the forum and for choosing me to be the guest of honour for this important occasion. I set the record straight and mentioned that I was not an ambassador but a former diplomat who served in several countries for 40 years.
I expressed my admiration at what Dr. Shawkat Hameed Khan said about the developments made by Pakistan in the field of science and technology. I even spoke highly of the role Pakistan plays in resolving the plight of Rohingya Muslims. I stressed that Muslim countries should exercise some pressure on the government of Myanmar and make them stop killing, persecuting, and displacing those Muslims.
Then I talked about the Pakistanis who have been left stranded in Bangladesh for the past 44 years and who have sacrificed a lot for the sake of Pakistan since 1947. First, they left their homes and property in India and immigrated to Pakistan then stood by the Pakistani army to preserve Pakistan's unity. Bangladesh considered them enemies and killed them, confiscated their property, and placed them in dilapidated camps that do not befit them as Pakistanis who deserve to enjoy all citizenship privileges.
I call upon the Pakistani leaders, intellectuals, and people to work on resolving the problem of their brothers and partners who have been stranded for four decades. I am confident Pakistan will be stronger and better when it embraces all its nationals as Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) says, "Seek me among the poor and weak. Truly, you are given victory and provided for on account of the poor and weak among you."
Dr. Ali Al-Ghamdi is a former Saudi diplomat who specializes in Southeast Asian affairs.