Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday warned the international community that the Narendra Modi government’s policies might trigger a “big refugee crisis” in South Asia, Dawn reported.
Khan, who made the remarks at the first meeting of the Global Refugee Forum in the city of Geneva in Switzerland, mentioned three actions of the Indian government – the scrapping of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, the National Register of Citizens exercise in Assam, and the Citizenship Amendment Act. “We are worried there not only could be a refugee crisis, we are worried it could lead to a conflict between two nuclear-armed countries,” The Express Tribune quoted Khan as saying. “Our country will not be able to accommodate more refugees.” He urged the world to “step in now”.
Khan said Pakistan has already taken in 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees, with three million of them overall finding refuge in the country. The prime minister pointed out that the country had been hosting these refugees since the former Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.
Khan urged the global community to realise that Modi government’s agenda was to change the demographic composition of Kashmir, which is a Muslim-majority area. The Pakistan prime minister requested United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres to understand the complications of the steps taken by India in Assam to “deprive the Muslim population of Indian nationality”, and mentioned the Citizenship Amendment Act.
Millions of Muslims could flee India due to the curfew imposed in Indian-controlled Kashmir, Khan said. On August 5, New Delhi had cancelled the Jammu and Kashmir’s special constitutional status, and placed it under a lockdown. The situation has not completely normalised yet, with scores of political leaders still in detention.
In response to Khan’s comments, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said India does not need to respond to every comment made by the Pakistan prime minister, The Indian Express reported. “All his statements are unwarranted, he should rather pay attention to the condition of minorities in Pakistan than comment on internal matters of India,” Kumar added.
India rejects Pakistan’s resolution on amended Citizenship Act
The Ministry of External Affairs said a citizenship law resolution passed by Pakistan’s National Assembly on Monday had referred to India’s internal matters, and hence was rejected by New Delhi, ANI reported. The resolution stated that “extremist and fascist measures of the BJP government in pursuit of Hindutva ideology were fast leading India into a Hindu Rashtra, where minorities, particularly the Muslims, are facing the brunt of persecution”, Dawn reported.
“It’s a thinly-veiled attempt by Pakistan to further its false narrative on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh,” said the Ministry of External Affairs. “It seeks to provide justification for Pakistan’s unrelenting support for cross-border terrorist activities in India. We’re confident that such attempts will fail.”
The ministry said the resolution was an attempt to “divert attention from Pakistan’s appalling treatment and persecution of its own religious minorities”. “The demographics of these minorities, whether Hindu, Christian, Sikh or other faiths, in Pakistan speak for themselves,” it added.
Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar accused Khan of peddling falsehoods once again at a global forum to promote its own agenda. “Over past 72 years, Pakistan has systematically persecuted its minorities, forcing most of them to flee to India,” said the Ministry of External Affairs. “PM Khan wishes the world forgets what his Army did in 1971 to people of erstwhile East Pakistan. Pakistan must act to protect and promote rights of its own minorities and co-religionists.”
The amended Citizenship Act, which was passed by both Houses of Parliament last week, grants citizenship to people from six persecuted religious communities, except Muslims, from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan provided they have resided in India for six years. The cut-off date is December 31, 2014.
There have been massive student protests against the law in the last few days. The situation escalated after police entered two university campuses in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh and beat students, drawing widespread condemnation.
On December 10, Pakistan had claimed that the proposed amendments to the Citizenship Act were a step towards realising the concept of a Hindu nation and “expansionist” in nature. The Pakistan Foreign Office said the law was in complete violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The office said the proposed changes also violate various bilateral agreements between Pakistan and India – “particularly the one concerning security and rights of minorities in the respective countries”.