These letters addressed to the Prime Minister of Pakistan have been written by Pakistani Bengali children and teenagers living in Karachi. The letters serve as a direct appeal to the government to take account of some of the challenges faced by these young people and their families linked to issues of citizenship and statelessness. These include access to education, employment, lack of opportunities and lack of infrastructure in their neighborhoods.
In Pakistan, it is estimated of the 2.3-3 million Pakistani Bengalis living in the country, 70-80% have issues with citizenship in some form, and a proportion of this group face issues of statelessness. The most common proof of citizenship in Pakistan are Computerized National Identity Cards (CNICs). These are needed to exercise key rights. In the young people’s letters, you will find many of the children talking about these.
Despite there being provisions in Pakistan to regulate access of citizenship by birth for all, there is a huge gap in relation to the implementation of the law for stateless communities. Find further details about citizenship laws and stateless communities in Pakistan including Pakistani Bengalis – here
The letters were developed following a workshop in partnership with Imkaan Welfare Organisation and led by artist Ahsan Javaid and POI team members in 2022. They formed part of a series of art workshops held in Khel School, Machar Colony.