KARACHI: Narrow streets filled with dirt, sewage and filthy water erupting from the open drains, plastic bags are floating on the surface of nullah, rotting fishes and fruits are carpeted everywhere on the roads, children are playing and collecting garbage on the mounds of rubbish, smoke is emitting from the heaps of trash giving the area a cloudy look- these are the common scenes of Machhar Colony Keemari which hosts number of Burmese for last many years. Burmese or Rohingya Muslims are the subject of Myanmar government’s persecution, and they are forced to leave their native homeland to escape torture. These people are now living in other countries, mostly in concentrated camps in Bangladesh, and large number of Burmese also live in Pakistan for last many years but without any identity. Fazal, 52, also lives in the Machhar Colony says he is living in Pakistan for last 35 years and feels comfortable but his only problem is ” my CNIC has expired and despite fulfilling all requirement I am unable to get it renewed”. “I want to perform Hajj but only hindrance is the CNIC. I had a valid identity card issued to us during the tenure of Zia-ul-Haq but it has expired later”, he informed. He says despite approaching the NADRA many times for the renewal of card, “the officials turned us back saying we are Bengali not Pakistan”, as claims. Another man who looks bold and confident ,Assan Bin Sabir, wants to educate his son but he is unable to get admission in college as he has no National Identity card. “Everybody wants to give better education to one’s children for their bright future but it will only be possible when I will get renewed CNIC card”. “Politicians only appear during elections, they promise to provide all basic facilities but after coming into power they disappear till the next elections “, Noor Abid, another Burmi fisherman who migrated to Pakistan at the time of Ayub Khan’s rule. “Politicians of various parties only use us for their vote-bank but do nothing for us”, he complained. “We had to take permission for everything from the police station even for slaughtering of cows on our religious rituals. They had imposed rules of slaughtering only sick defected animals while we wanted to sacrifice the best”, Abid recalling the past memories of Mando-a village in Rakhine state in Myanmar. “The only sin of Rohingya is that they are Muslims, that’s it”, he said adding “We also want our own state where we can enjoy our religious, cultural and traditional occasions freely”. The main business and source of earning of the settlement is fishing. As the sun shines at the morning, women and children rush to the VARA- (a warehouse where fishing trawlers dump shrimps) to grab basket filled with shrimps. They sit in a line in the VARA and start peeling and cleaning shrimps. “I peel and clean at least 10 to 12 basket of shrimps in a day and Rs.25 are paid for the each basket”, a lady told Daily Times. “I wonder over the hypocrisy of politicians and leaders who raise voice for the people of Rakhine in Burma while those thousands of people of their own country are deprived of their basic rights”, said Abdul Hashim, Bengali resident of Machar colony”. “They must show some sympathy with their own people who have been living here for generations”, he said. They say that the Myanmar government calls us Pakistanis while Pakistan government denies citizenship calling us Burmese. “We are stateless and helpless”, Hashim lamented. NADRA also clarifies its position. “The authorities ask people to bring proofs, any document or anything that can prove that they are the citizens of Pakistan, as they fail to bring out any proof then we are left with no option except to refuse them”, clarified an official at NADRA on the condition of anonymity as he is not allowed to talk to media. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims have already flown to Bangladesh but the recent eruption of violence has compelled to migrate even more than 300,000. Since 1970’s, due to the oppression and persecution at least one million Rohingly Muslims have compelled to flee from their homeland to various countries of the world; 500,000 to Bangladesh,350,000 to Pakistan,200,000 to Saudi Arabia,150,000 in Malaysia,100,000 in UAE,14,000 in India and 5000 in Thailand. While about 1.1 million Rohingya still live in Myanmar. Published in Daily Times, September 16th 2017.