Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Thailand’s Pakistani immigrants need not fear persecution at home

Mar 19. 2019
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Re: “Surviving on Faith”, Insight, March 16.

The author seems to be out of sync with the ground realities in Pakistan, and poorly informed of the reasons that lead to many unfortunate Pakistanis and others being stuck in Thailand. Pakistan respects and values its minorities, who enjoy equal rights and constitutional guarantees. Members of minority communities continue to contribute to the development of the country in all walks of life. There is no targeting or discrimination directed at religious minorities. Some elements, a very small number, who seek to thrive on intolerance and extremism, try to damage the harmony in society, but this is a phenomenon visible around the world, as we have seen in the recent terrorist massacre in New Zealand. There is a need to isolate and effectively counter such elements, and Pakistanis are determined to support the actions of their government in that regard. 

As a Pakistani expatriate in Thailand for many years, I understand that most Pakistanis stranded here are basically economic migrants, and not seeking asylum for political or religious reasons. As such, most saw their asylum requests turned down by the UN and have opted to return home in recent times, drastically reducing the total numbers in Thailand. 

Those preaching humanitarianism should worry about countries that close down their borders and erect fences to block entry to genuine refugees. Pakistan and Pakistanis have a much bigger heart. We have hosted millions of Afghan refugees for decades and continue to do so even today. My sincere advice to our compatriots is to consider returning to Pakistan where they would be welcomed.

Muhammad Taqi Riaz


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