Imran Khan peddling familiar falsehoods: Raveesh Kumar

Raveesh Kumar, spokesman for Indian Foreign Ministry. (Reuters photo)

Soon after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said in Geneva that the Citizenship (Amendment) Act of India (CAA) could result in a refugee crisis, New Delhi on Tuesday accused him of spreading falsehoods and abusing global forums to advance his narrow political agenda.

Imran Khan further said that India's new citizenship law could also lead to a conflict between the two nuclear-armed countries.

New Delhi reacted, alleging that Khan had once again peddled familiar falsehoods at a multilateral platform to advance his narrow political agenda by making gratuitous and unwarranted remarks on matters entirely internal to India. It should now be clear to the entire world that it was “an established pattern of his habitual and compulsive abuse of global forums”.

“Over the past 72 years, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan has systematically persecuted all of its minorities, forcing most of them to flee to India. Moreover, Prime Minister Khan wishes the world forgets what his Army did in 1971 to the people of erstwhile East Pakistan. Pakistan must act to protect and promote the rights of its own minorities and co-religionists,” the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) alleged in a statement issued in New Delhi. “Pakistan must act to protect and promote the rights of its own minorities and co-religionists.”

New Delhi also rejected a resolution passed by National Assembly of Pakistan on Monday condemning the new law, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Government recently enacted to amend the 1955 Citizenship Act. The MEA in New Delhi said that the resolution was a “poorly disguised effort to divert attention” from “appalling treatment and persecution” of religious minorities in Pakistan. “The demographics of these minorities, whether Hindu, Christian, Sikh or other faiths, in Pakistan speak for themselves,” Raveesh Kumar, MEA spokesperson said.

The Government led by BJP last week got the controversial CAA passed by both Houses of Parliament, despite strong protest by the Congress and other opposition parties in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. It turned into a law after President of India Ramnath Kovind gave his assent to it late at night on Thursday. It amended the Citizenship Act, 1955, to give protected status to Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Parsi, Buddhist and Christian migrants who fled from Muslim-majority Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh and entered India on or before December 31, 2014.

The new law also provided the non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh an expedited route of citizenship of India – by giving them the opportunity to be eligible for citizenship by naturalization if they have lived or worked in India for six years,

The resolution passed by the National Assembly of Pakistan said that the new Citizenship Act of India was “against international norms of equality and non-discrimination and International Human Rights Law”.

“This amendment is also against bilateral agreements and understandings between India and Pakistan, particularly the ones on security and rights of minorities in the respective countries,” it further said.

New Delhi stated that the resolution passed by the National Assembly of Pakistan intentionally mischaracterized the objectives of the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 of India. “This Act gives citizenship to foreigners from selected countries who are persecuted religious minorities. It does not take away the citizenship of any Indian irrespective of her or his faith,” the MEA said in a statement.

“It is laughable that the National Assembly of Pakistan that has itself passed discriminatory legislation against religious minorities, should point fingers at others. We call upon Pakistan to engage in serious self-introspection rather than to falsely accuse others of what they themselves are guilty of,” the MEA spokesperson said.

He reminded Pakistan that India was the world’s largest democracy, that all its governments had been freely and fairly elected through universal adult franchise, and that all Indians irrespective of faith enjoyed equal rights under the Constitution. “We urge Pakistan to similarly aspire to these ideals,” said Kumar.

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