ISLAMABAD: The Natio­nal Assembly on Monday through a unanimously-passed resolution “condemned” the passage of the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 by the Indian parliament, terming the move an “indication of the dangerous extremist tendencies of the current (Indian) government relating to treatment of minorities in neighbouring countries”.

The resolution, read out by Minister for Federal Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mehmood after an address by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and a few speeches by opposition members, asserted that “extremist and fascist measures of the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) 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”.

The Indian parliament on Dec 11 passed the citizenship act that grants nationality to persecuted Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians who fled Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan prior to 2015.

The passage of the controversial law has led to violent demonstrations across India, as protesters said it would convert thousands of illegal immigrants into legal residents.

The debate on the Indian citizenship act was initiated by the foreign minister soon after completion of the Question Hour and Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri then had to give floor to representatives of all parties present in the house to express their views.

The opposition members, though joined their voice with the foreign minister in condemning New Delhi, lashed out at the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government over its failure in handling the Kashmir issue after annexation of the Indian Occupied Valley by India in August, saying that this inaction on the part of the Pakistan government had encouraged the Modi government to take this step of passing the citizenship act.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Ayaz Sadiq regretted that the government had failed to “cash the previous opportunity on Kashmir”, saying that this latest act by India had provided it another opportunity to expose India before the world.

A minority MNA of the PML-N, Dr Darshan, said the entire Hindu community of Pakistan condemned Narendra Modi’s recent acts.

Another PML-N leader Khurram Dastagir Khan said the government “seemed to be paralysed at diplomatic level” since India annexed Kashmir some four months back.

“Diplomacy is not done through speeches only,” he said, alleging that “it seems that the present government has accepted the annexation of Kashmir by India”.

Another PML-N leader and former foreign minister Khawaja Asif also questioned the government as to what steps it had taken to provide relief to the people of Kashmir.

“What have we done over the last four months after annexation of Kashmir by India? Air space for India is still open. Trade is going on,” he said, adding that Kashmiris were gradually losing hopes from Pakistan.

“All recent events in India demand actions and not mere resolutions. Business as usual with India is not possible,” he said.

“Speeches serve no purpose. Speeches should be backed by some actions. I am not saying that we should attack India,” Mr Asif said, adding that “Kashmir demands much more from us”.

Mr Asif was of the view that Pakistan’s relations with India could not become normal in the presence of (Indian Prime Minister) Narendra Modi.

”Secularism is in tatters in India. Their judicial system is in tatters which is evident from the Babri mosque verdict which had been taken keeping in view the public perception,” he said.

APS tragedy

Some of the speakers in their speeches also talked about the Army Public School and East Pakistan tragedies the country had faced on the same day (Dec 16) in 2014 and 1971, respectively.

PML-N’s Khawaja Asif regretted that the state had not learnt any lesson from the two incidents and behaviour of the state towards its citizens was still the same as it was some 50 years ago when East Pakistan became Bangladesh.

Independent MNA from erstwhile Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) Mohsin Dawar said five years had passed, but no investigation had been conducted in the Army Public School attack incident. He regretted that “the innocent students were being martyred right at the centre of Peshawar city and the state was powerless”.

Mr Dawar said that parents of the children martyred in the APS incident had been running from pillar to post to seek justice. He reminded that the Supreme Court in May 2018 had constituted a judicial commission under a Peshawar High Court judge to probe the incident and submit a report in two months. Later, he said, the time for submission of report was extended for another six months.

“Now five years have passed and there is still no progress and no investigation,” he added.

Resolution

Terming the Indian citizenship act a “discriminatory law”, the National Assembly resolution says the controversial amendment is against international norms of equality and non-discrimination and international human rights law as it seeks to set up faith-based criteria for a group of citizens.

The resolution further says that the amendment is also against bilateral agreements and understandings between India and Pakistan, particularly those on security and rights of minorities in the respective countries.

It says that the status of minorities in India remains deplorable and points to instances of persecution of minorities, including mob lynching, particularly targeting Muslims and low-caste Dalits by cow-vigilantes from extremist Hindu organisations like Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal, schemes likes Ghar Wapsi and ‘Love Jihad’ and violence against Christians and other minorities.

The members also expressed their concerns over the Indian state’s excessive use of force and violent response against protesters in particular religious minorities and Muslim students in various parts of India.

The members from across the divide also called upon the international community to urge India to revoke this discriminatory act and to protect and safeguard the rights of its minorities, including the Muslims.

The NA also asked India to revoke the discriminatory clauses in the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, immediately halt the brutal use of force against religious minorities, in particular Indian Muslim students, release peaceful protesters detained in crackdown against minorities, reverse all discriminatory measures and steps in order to allow minorities to live with dignity and safety, lift curfew and information blackout from India-occupied Jammu and Kashmir and respect UN Security Council resolutions.

The National Assembly was scheduled to continue till December 20, but the deputy speaker read out the prorogation order by the president after taking some routine agenda items.

Published in Dawn, December 17th, 2019