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Pakistan's New PM Promises Citizenship To Refugees' Children


Bengali immigrants living in Pakistan gather at a market in Karachi on September 17.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has pledged to grant citizenship to Pakistan-born children of Afghan and Bengali refugees, many of whom have lived in the country for decades.

Khan said late on September 16 that hundreds of thousands of Afghans and Bangladeshis live in Pakistan without the benefits of its social security system.

He said the children's lack of documentation and education has prevented them from getting jobs, so they turn to crime.

"When you are born in America, you get the American passport. It is the practice in every country in the world, so why not here? How cruel it is for them," Khan said.

Khan took office last month after his Pakistan Tehrik-e Insaf (PTI) party won national elections on July 25.

Pakistan is home to some 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees, some of whom have lived in the country since fleeing the Soviet invasion in 1979.

There are also some 250,000 Bengalis, many of whom arrived during Pakistan's civil war in 1971, when East Pakistan broke away to declare independence and become Bangladesh.

The United Nations refugee agency welcomed Imran Khan's announcement.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP
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