A regional politics of foreignness and Pakistan’s Afghan refugees
in Statelessness, governance, and the problem of citizenship
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The context and focus of this chapter is the Indian sub-continent in the turmoil of the 1947 Partition and thus the comparative frameworks of according and denying citizenship that emerged at that time for migrant populations in Pakistan are explored. This chapter begins by reviewing the theoretical ground from which the category of the stateless individual emerges. The chapter outlines the shifting status of migrant populations throughout Pakistan’s post-colonial history; most notably the population of Afghan-origin persons residing in Pakistan over the last forty years. It does so by analysing the development of domestic legislation on identity and citizenship in Pakistan such as the Naturalization Act 1926, the Pakistan Citizenship Act 1951, and more specifically governance of Afghan refugees as ‘aliens’ under the Foreigners Act, 1946. With Pakistan as neither a party to the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees nor to the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, the large influx of persons into Pakistan from neighbouring Afghanistan since the 1970s has been and continues to be governed through a complex array of policy measures. The chapter attempts to uncover how it is not only the lack of a formal legal conformity with international rights instruments that defines the ‘status’ of this population but also a history of geopolitics, the development of the nation-state, and the use of state apparatus (including courts) that has historically rendered certain populations effectively ‘stateless’.

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