Washington, Jan 22 (PTI) A US-based group representing expatriate Mohajirs Tuesday demanded creation of an autonomous “Greater Karachi” within Pakistan.

“Today on civil rights legend Dr Martin Luther King Jr Day, the Voice of Karachi formally demands the State of Pakistan to declare the urban areas of Sindh province as an autonomous region within the boundaries of Pakistan. We have unanimously decided to call this region Greater Karachi,” Voice of Karachi chairman Nadeem Nusrat said at a news conference here.

Once a close aide of Mohajir leader Altaf Hussain, Washington DC-based Nusrat founded the Voice of Karachi a year ago.

Nusrat, who is living in self-exile in the US, said members and leaders of his organisation arrived at this conclusion after extensive research and deliberation.

“This solution, we believe, will adequately resolve urban Sindh’s civic, economic and political issues and will also act as a role model to resolve similar situations in Pakistan’s other regions,” he said at a news conference, which was also addressed by former Congressman Tom Garett, who is now an advisor to the Voice of Karachi.

Citing the example of the Balkan region and autonomous Kurdish region in Iraq, Nusrat asserted that Karachi, with an estimated population of 25 million, deserves a similar status.

“Since the creation of Pakistan, the province of Sindh has never had an elected Mohajir chief minister despite the presence of majority Mohajir population in Sindh,” he rued.

Supporting Greater Karachi as an autonomous region, Garrett said declaring urban areas of Sindh as an autonomous region within the boundaries of Pakistan is not a strange phenomenon.

“Pakistan hurts itself by hurting its minority community in Karachi,” he said.

“What Voice of Karachi has done here tonight is to submit that they want to be full and complete participants in the governing of the lands where they are majority, not to the detriment of a greater Pakistan, but to the benefit of all. That’s not radical. That’s just right,” Garrett said. The term Mohajir is used to describe the Urdu-speaking immigrants who left India in 1947 and came to Pakistan. A large chunk of them settled in the Sindh province.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.