Category Archives: Myanmar

The Rohingya of Pakistan: Burmi Colony in Karachi

This is an excellent write up from Dawn about the Rohingya community in Karachi. As is well known, more than 400,000 Rohingya have fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh because the Myanmar military is burning Muslim villages and driving people from their land. The UN has described Myanmar’s behaviour as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.  feature of 17 September 2017 in Dawn is most informative about the Rohingya in Pakistan. The west’s great heroine, Aung San Suu Kyi has failed to address the situation at all and there have been calls to strip her of her Nobel peace prize. The picture above is from one of the Rohingya villages recently burned by Buddhist monks and Myanmar military forces. 

Pakistani passports hold no value, at least not to those in power.

“Look at the date of issuance, look at it!” exclaims Mohammad.

“July 31, 1954.”

“And they are still asking us to prove our nationality.”

All of us tut-tut in unison. We are seated outside the Arakan Muslim Primary and Secondary School, about nine of us huddled in a circle as life around us moves ahead as normal. This is Burmi Colony, home to about 55,000 Rohingya Muslims in Karachi. There are other colonies in the area that are also housing the Rohingya but this is arguably the largest.

The Burmi Colony is located on the edge of the Korangi Industrial Area, perhaps the mega-city’s largest industrial zone. Apart from products, Korangi and the adjoining Landhi area produce the largest number of low-wage workers settled in small settlements off the main road running across the two zones. Burmi Colony, like the others, is organised along ethnic lines.

The ongoing strife in Myanmar’s Rakhine State targeting the minority Muslim population has shone a light on Karachi’s own substantial Rohingya population. Who are they and what are they all about? Eos finds out…

There are many in the neighbourhood who claim to have arrived in (West) Pakistan well before the formation of Bangladesh. Most Rohingya often identify themselves to officials as Bengalis because this provides them a chance to claim Pakistan citizenship. It is only the recent events in Myanmar which have made them own up to their identity publicly. An elderly grocer who could barely speak Urdu narrates that he arrived in 1965 as a boy. His son is now father to three. Continue reading