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Pakistan: Treatment of Mohajirs (Urdu-speaking Muslims who fled to Pakistan from India following the 1947 partition of the sub-continent) by the general population, particularly in Lahore and Islamabad; whether there is an internal flight alternative for Mohajirs in Pakistan, aside from Karachi (1998-August 2003)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 2 September 2003
Citation / Document Symbol PAK41873.E
Reference 5
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Pakistan: Treatment of Mohajirs (Urdu-speaking Muslims who fled to Pakistan from India following the 1947 partition of the sub-continent) by the general population, particularly in Lahore and Islamabad; whether there is an internal flight alternative for Mohajirs in Pakistan, aside from Karachi (1998-August 2003), 2 September 2003, PAK41873.E, available at: [accessed 28 November 2015]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Information provided by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) in correspondence with the Research Directorate indicates that discrimination against Mohajirs is "very limited" (8 Sept. 2003). According to the HRCP,

In some cases, Mohajirs may be a subject of (semi-racist) jokes – but these are at the level of jokes about Irish people or Poles etc., in a western context.

Mohajirs in fact hold many top jobs in the country, and other groups frequently complain [that] they are discriminated against by the Mohajirs. The only case where discrimination is a factor is if the Mohajirs belong to the political party, the Mohajir Qaumi Movement (MQM), one faction of which is facing some government-led intimidation, mainly in Karachi (ibid.).

The following general information is also relevant.

In December 1998, the MQM sent a petition to the United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, to take up the matter of alleged human rights violations against Mohajirs (Dawn 8 Dec. 1998). The petition stated that "thousands of Mohajirs had been arbitrarily arrested, tortured, maimed and extrajudicially executed, or had disappeared in the course of persistent reign of political victimisation and process of systematic annihilation" (ibid.). It is not clear in which part of Pakistan these alleged human rights violations took place. (For information on the MQM, please refer to PAK41703.E of 25 July 2003, PAK36870.E of 2 April 2001, PAK29524.E of 12 June 1998 and PAK28758.E of 5 February 1998).

In July 1999, the Convener of the MQM Coordination Committee, Aftab Ahmed Shaikh, reportedly stated that "[t]he extrajudicial killings, raids and arrests of Mohajirs were continuing [and] being intensified through state-sponsored terrorism" (The News 19 July 1999). He also stated that these "extrajudicial killings and genocide of Mohajirs" were taking place in the province of Sindh (ibid.).

In January 2001, a native of Sindh who was born to a Sindhi father and Mohajir mother authored a letter to the editor of Dawn stating that "I have always felt a resistance from both the groups in accepting me as their own" (31 Jan. 2001).

On 15 July 2001, reported that "[s]ections of Mohajirs claim that they are discriminated against in Pakistan," but did not indicate what sections and in what parts of Pakistan.

In June 2003, Dawn published the transcript of its interview with the chief of the Sindh National Front, Mumtaz Bhutto (3 June 2003). When the interview turned to the subject of provincial autonomy and the desire of the Sindhis to qualify as a separate nation, Bhutto was asked if the same demand could be made by the Urdu-speaking people. He assured that

The Mohajir community here is composed of all sorts of different people. And they have come and settled in Sindh. They have not brought their own land with them. They are no longer the majority, or at least the MQM which claims to represent them is no longer talking about Mohajirs, which is a very, very good thing. ... This is the reason that I went and met Altaf Hussain in London in March. So that problem is not there any more, I think.


We [Bhutto and Altaf Hussain] discussed that we should bring the rural [predominantly Sindhi] and urban [predominantly Mohajir] population closer. He [Hussain] wanted that, and I entirely agree with him that we should do that and adopt ways and means of assimilation, and things are happening on that front, though not very visibly. But the bitterness and the hatred of the past is no longer there and we have gone back to the pre-MQM days when rapid assimilation was taking place. And then the MQM came and adopted a policy which brought about the conflict. But now they have changed and even publicly apologized for the harm that has been cause. So things are improving rapidly (Dawn 3 June 2003).

In respect of an internal flight alternative for Mohajirs in Pakistan, a retired Pakistani military officer born of Mohajir parents authored a letter to the editor of Dawn in June 2001 claiming that "I feel as comfortable in Karachi as any other place in Pakistan. The love and affection I've received is not only from the Urdu-speaking community, but from each and every corner of the country" (28 June 2001).

According to a 2000 report on Pakistan summarizing the information presented at the 5th Country of Origin Information Workshop organized by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in cooperation with Austrian Centre for Country of Origin and Asylum Research and Documentation (ACCORD), in 1999,

In the past, MQM activists may have faced persecution by the authorities, although quite often they were prosecuted for very violent attacks on political opponents or under serious criminal charges. ... [B]ut they ... usually have had the opportunity to flee to other parts of the country and pass unrecognized (May 2000, 15).

The HRCP indicated that "Mohajirs can live in most cities safely" and only suffer "occasional social discrimination," which is "far more limited than the kind of discrimination Black Americans face in cities in the US, for instance" (8 Sept. 2003).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Dawn [Karachi]. 3 June 2003. "Nationalist Politics Today's Centrepiece: Mumtaz." [Accessed 28 Aug. 2003]
_____. 28 June 2001. Javaid Iqbal. "Pakistani First." [Accessed 28 Aug. 2003]
_____. 31 January 2001. Romana Shiakh. "Ethnic Harmony." [Accessed 28 Aug. 2003]
_____. 8 December 1998. "HR Violations: MQM Sends Petition to UN Chief." [Accessed 8 Dec. 1998]

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Lahore, Pakistan. 8 September 2003. Correspondence from the Joint Director.

The News [Islamabad, Internet version]. 19 July 1999. "MQM to Launch Worldwide Protest Against Mohajir Genocide." (FBIS-NES-1999-0719 20 July 1999/Dialog) 15 July 2001. "Musharraf Skirts Mohajirs Issue." [Accessed 28 Aug. 2003]

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees/Austrian Centre for Country of Origin and Asylum Research and Documentation (UNHCR/ACCORD). May 2000. "Final Report: Pakistan." 5th Country of Origin Information Workshop, Bratislava, 13-14 December 1999. [Accessed 29 Aug. 2003]

Additional Sources Consulted


The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan did not respond to a letter requesting information within time constraints.

IRB Databases

The Nation, in Peshawar

Internet sites, including:

Amnesty International


Country Reports on Human Rights Practices (1999-2002)

European Country of Origin Information Network

Human Rights Watch

Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)

International Crisis Group (ICG)

Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA)

Minorities at Risk

Minority Rights Group International


United Kingdom, Immigration and Nationality Directorate

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR)

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Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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