Once debated in the parliament and then forgotten, the second round of debate on the refugee issue not initiated shows how committed Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) is in solving the matter. In an attempt to remind Imran Khan of his forgotten promise, Afghans living in Karachi staged a big demonstration at the Karachi Press Club. The issue for PTI and some other political parties is a humanitarian one. For others, it is a political issue. Both positions are correct but only partly. The problem is a mix of both.

The announcement of granting citizenship to Afghans and Bengalis born on Pakistani soil has angered many political parties. But, the retraction of the government to avoid troubles has also disappointed many. Some ethics and morals govern politics. However, with populism gaining force all over the world, PTI is afraid of making hard but ethically and morally correct choices. The reason for PTI’s appeasement policy is apparent: the party does not want to lose its votes.

The political parties divide is evident. It is encouraging that the residents are organising for their rights and some political parties and rights groups are throwing their weight behind them. The agitation will, probably, make the second round of deliberation on citizenship debate happen. However, what is not to be underestimated is the hurdle in the form of opposition from political parties – that have talked of human rights all these years but have gone back on their preaching of rights when the government has decided to grant citizenship to Afghans and Bengalis.

What Akhtar Mengal needs to keep in mind is that two wrongs do not make a right. Opposing the legal rights of Afghans and Bengalis will only worsen his credibility as a champion of human rights. Talking of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) opposition to the suggestion shows the irony that a party that calls its self a left-leaning party is opposing the government for the sake of opposition. How can these parties shut their eyes to the rights of the refugees born in Pakistan when the country they live in has its foundations on migration is the question that should be asked.

While Shireen Mazari, the Human Rights Minister, said that the law of the land granted these people the right to hold Pakistani identity cards, the government has been silent on it since then. It is about time for the government to solve the issue; if a national debate has to be had, the government needs to start collecting the data and framing the legal terms for it right away. It will not go away on its own. Afghans and Bengalis deserve to be granted their legal rights.