ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday strongly condemned the passage of Citizenship Amendment Bill by Indian Lok Sabha, saying the legislation is a violation of international human rights law and bilateral agreements with Pakistan.
“It is part of the RSS Hindu Rashtra design of expansionism propagated by the fascist Modi government,” the prime minister wrote in a tweet, coinciding with his message on the International Human Rights Day.
The Citizenship Amendment Bill provides that Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians fleeing persecution in Muslim-majority Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan can be granted citizenship.
Earlier, the Foreign Office in a statement termed India’s Citizenship Amendment Bill ‘another major step towards the realisation of the concept of ‘Hindu Rashtra’, idealised and relentlessly pursued by the right-wing Hindu leaders for several decades.’
“It is driven by a toxic mix of an extremist Hindutva ideology and hegemonic ambitions in the region. It is also a clear manifestation of interference in the internal matters of neighbouring countries based on religion, which we reject completely,” the statement said. “Equally reprehensible are India’s pretensions of casting itself as a homeland for minorities allegedly persecuted in the neighbouring countries. The massacre of thousands of Muslims in Gujarat, the Samjhauta Express carnage, innumerable lynchings by cow-vigilantes, repugnant schemes like Ghar wapsi and ‘Love Jihad’, and violence against Christians, Sikhs, Jains and even low-caste Dalits are the hallmarks of the new India ruled by the proponents of the extremist Hindu ideology,” it added.
The FO statement said the continuing persecution of eight million unarmed and innocent Kashmiris, collectively incarcerated and penalised by 900,000 Indian occupation forces, goes to further illustrate this blatantly extremist mindset. “This Indian legislation has also, once again, exposed the hollowness of the claims to secularism and democracy,” it went on to say. “We condemn the legislation as regressive and discriminatory, which is in violation of all relevant international conventions and norms and a glaring attempt by India to interfere in the neighbouring countries with malafide intent,” it added.
The United States also expressed concerns over the passage of the discriminatory bill. The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) said it will propose sanctions against senior members of the Indian political leadership if the bill is enacted as law.
The USCIRF in its statement noted that the bill specifically excluded Muslims, setting a legal criterion for citizenship based on religion. “The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is a dangerous turn in the wrong direction; it runs counter to India’s rich history of secular pluralism,” the statement said.
The commission also condemned the bill as a ‘violation’ of the Indian constitution, relating it to recent efforts to introduce the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam and nationwide. “USCIRF fears that the Indian government is creating a religious test for Indian citizenship that will strip citizenship from millions of Muslims,” it warned.
In a statement made separately early Tuesday, the US House Foreign Affairs Committee also condemned the passage of the contentious bill through the Indian Lower House, saying the so-called ‘religious test’ for citizenship undermined basic democratic tenets shared by the US and India.
The citizenship bill also sparked protests in India’s northeastern states, where residents are unhappy about an influx of Hindus from neighbouring Bangladesh.