Bengalis in Pakistan
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|Regions with significant populations|
|Karachi, Sindh, Punjab|
|Bengali · Urdu · English (Pakistani English)|
Pakistani Bengalis (Urdu: پاکستانی بنگالی ) are Pakistani citizens who migrated from East Bengal and live in West Pakistan or East Pakistan prior to 1971, or illegal immigrants who migrated from Bangladesh after 1971. Most Pakistani Bengalis, are bilingual speaking both Urdu and Bengali, and are mainly settled in Karachi.
The founding members of the Pakistani Bengali community were early migrants from East Bengal who arrived in Sindh during the early 20th century. This community of early Bengali settlers assimilated into Pakistani culture and adopted Urdu or became bilingual Bengali speakers.
After Pakistan's independence in 1947, a large influx of Bengalis arrived in Karachi from East Pakistan to West Pakistan. In 1971, some Bengalis opted to return to the newly independent Bangladesh while others opted to remain in Pakistan.
Thousands of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants arrived in Pakistan in the 1980s, while Bangladesh was battling extreme poverty. By 1995, continuous migration of Bangladeshis crossed the 2,500,000 mark. During the administration of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, some top advisers became concerned with the large Bangladeshi migrant population, afraid they could become the second largest group in Karachi after Urdu-speaking Muhajir people and disturb sensitive demographics. Accordingly, Bhutto ordered a crackdown and deportation on Bangladeshi immigrants. Benazir Bhutto's action strained and created tensions in Bangladesh–Pakistan relations, with Khaleda Zia, who was in power in Dhaka during the time, refusing to accept the deportees and reportedly sending two planeloads back towards Pakistan and Muslim political parties in Pakistan criticising Bhutto and dubbing the crackdown as anti-Islamic. She was ultimately forced to abandon the order.
According to Shaikh Muhammad Feroze, chairman of the Pakistani Bengali Action Committee, over 200 settlements of Bengali-speaking people exist in Pakistan (mainly in Sindh) of which 132 are in Karachi while other smaller communities exist in Thatta, Badin, Hyderabad, Tando Adam and Lahore. There are numerous Bengali colonies in Karachi, often called "Mini Bangladesh" (or East Pakistan Colony in memorandum), such as Machar Colony, Musa Colony and Chittagong Colony. Colorful Bengali signboards, Bhashani caps, lungis and kurtas are often seen in these areas of Karachi and remains unique. The Chittagong Colony has a bazaar, which is famous throughout Pakistan as the center for Dhaka cloth. In more recent times, the Bengali population has seen a decline as the perilous journey from Bangladesh has been fraught with danger and tense borders. Furthermore, given the tense ethnic rivalries and lack of social welcome in Pakistan Bengalis have now been traveling elsewhere.
Culture and education
- Khwaja Hassan Askari, the last Nawab of Dhaka.
- Alamgir, a popular Pakistani pop singer in the 1970s and 80s.
- Munni Begum, a Pakistani ghazal singer
- Nurul Amin, a jurist who served as Prime Minister of Pakistan.
- Habibullah Bahar Chowdhury, a politician, journalist and sportsman.
- Roopa Farooki – British writer (half Pakistani, half Bangladeshi)
- Tariq Fatemi, a Pakistani diplomat who serves as the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister of Pakistan on Foreign Affairs, and previously served as Pakistan Ambassador to the United States and to the European Union.
- Zaib-un-Nissa Hamidullah, feminist writer.
- Altaf Husain, a Pakistan Movement activist and founding editor and the first editor-in-chief of Dawn.
- Shaista Suhrawardy Ikramullah, a prominent Pakistani female politician, diplomat and author.
- Shahida Jamil, is a Pakistani lawyer and politician.
- Iskander Mirza, a politician who served as the first President of Pakistan.
- Indu Mitha, is a Pakistani exponent of Bharatnatyam and faculty member at the National College of Arts
- Khawaja Nazimuddin, a conservative Pakistani politician and statesman who served as the 2nd Prime Minister of Pakistan
- Sir Abdur Rahim, jurist and Islamic author who participated in the Pakistan Movement.
- Jalaludin Abdur Rahim, Nietzschean philosopher and one of the founders of the influential Pakistan People's Party
- Hamoodur Rahman, a jurist who served as the Chief Justice of Pakistan.
- Najma Sadeque, journalist, author, and women's rights activist.
- Ikram Sehgal, Defence analyst.
- Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, a politician who served as Prime Minister of Pakistan.
- Hasan Shaheed Suhrawardy, polyglot scholar and diplomat, brother of the former.
- Begum Akhtar Sulaiman, Pakistani social worker, political activist and the daughter of Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy.
- Rahman, B. (4 February 2003). "Indo-Bangladesh Standoff". South Asia Analysis Group. Archived from the original on 12 September 2012.
- "Five million illegal immigrants residing in Pakistan". Express Tribune. 16 January 2012. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
- "Fringe Pakistan: Bengali-speaking Pakistanis demand right to vote". Express Tribune. 10 March 2012. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
Shaikh Muhammad Feroze, the chairman of the committee, said during a press conference on Friday that political parties and the government should acknowledge the sacrifices of their ancestors. 'We live in Sindh and feel proud to be called Sindhis rather than Bengalis. We appeal to Sindhi nationalists and Sindhis to help us in our struggle,' he added. He said that Bengali-speaking people were not given educational rights as they did not possess national identity cards. 'Our children can’t get an education after matriculation because colleges ask for the identity cards but the National Database Registration Authority has never accepted us as Pakistani citizens.' Shaikh said that over three million Bengalis and Biharis were grateful to the government for accepting them as Pakistani citizens. 'We postponed a hunger strike planned for March 25 after the government made decisions,' he added. 'We can go on a hunger strike, if our rights are not given.' He claimed that there were 200 settlements of Bengali-speaking people across the country, including 132 in Karachi. They populate different parts of Pakistan, including Thatta, Badin, Hyderabad, Tando Adam and Lahore.
- Tohid, Owais; Mahmud, Arshad (29 November 1995). "Homeless In Karachi". Outlook. Retrieved 2010-03-02.
- Naqvi, Abbas (17 December 2006). "Falling back". Daily Times. Archived from the original on 9 October 2013. Retrieved 19 January 2010.
- Bloch, Hannah (25 September 2000). "You Can't Get There From Here". Time Asia.
- "Official Website of Department of Bengali". University of Karachi. Retrieved 2014-01-22.
- Bangladeshi migrants struggle in Karachi slum (video)
- You Can't Get There From Here: Bengali immigrants in Pakistan now wish they'd never left Bangladesh
- Bengali immigrants in Karachi polarised over violence in Bangladesh
- Bengalis afraid of losing their identity and rights
- The Bengal Borderland: Beyond State and Nation in South Asia
- Too many mouths to feed in Karachi’s slum fishermen’s colony
- In Search of an Identity
- Baloch, Saher; Mughal, Bilal Karim (4 June 2017). "The woes of Bengalis, Burmese and Iranians of Karachi". Dawn.
- No CNICs for Pakistani Bengalis means no jobs for them