Pak says Citizenship Bill reflects India’s ‘malafide intent’ to interfere in neighbouring countries

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ISLAMABAD, Dec 10 (AGENCIES): Pakistan on Tuesday said India’s “regressive and discriminatory” Citizenship (Amendment) Bill reflects its “malafide intent” to interfere in the affairs of neighbouring countries based on religion, with Prime Minister Imran Khan describing the proposed legislation as a “design of expansionism”.

According to the proposed legislation, members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities, who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, till December 31, 2014 facing religious persecution there, will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill or CAB was passed in the Lok Sabha with 311 members favouring it and 80 voting against it a little past midnight on Monday. It will now be tabled in the Rajya Sabha for its nod.

Prime Minister Khan took to Twitter to strongly condemn the Bill.

He said that the Citizenship Bill “violates all norms of international human rights law and bilateral agreements with Pakistan”.

“It is part of the RSS Hindu Rashtra design of expansionism,” he said. Earlier, the Foreign Office (FO) in a statement said: “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 said that the law “is premised on a falsehood and is in complete violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international covenants on elimination of all forms of discrimination based on religion or belief.”

“The Lok Sabha legislation is also in complete contravention of various bilateral agreements between Pakistan and India, particularly the one concerning security and rights of minorities in the respective countries,” the statement said.

In New Delhi, the Ministry of External Affairs said the Bill provides expedited consideration for Indian citizenship to persecuted religious minorities already in India from certain contiguous countries.

“It seeks to address their current difficulties and meet their basic human rights. Such an initiative should be welcomed, not criticised by those who are genuinely committed to religious freedom,” it said.

“The CAB does not affect the existing avenues available to all communities interested in seeking citizenship from doing so. The recent record of granting such citizenship would bear out the Government of India’s objectivity on the matter,” it added. The FO, however, said the latest legislation by the Indian government was 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”.

The law is driven by a toxic mix of an extremist “Hindutva ideology and hegemonic ambitions” in the region and is also a clear manifestation of interference in the internal matters of neighbouring countries based on religion, which Pakistan rejects completely, the FO said.

“Equally reprehensible are India’s pretentions of casting itself as homeland for minorities allegedly persecuted in the neighbouring countries,” it said.

The Foreign Office said India’s action in Kashmir has affected 8 million people and it further displayed the government’s policies. The legislation has “exposed the hollowness of the claims to secularism and democracy. Pushed by the majoritarian agenda, it has revealed to the world the RSS-BJP exclusivist mentality and the true extent of their animus against the Muslims,” the statement said.

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