The racist new Indian citizenship law hides behind the skirts of refugee issues but in reality it intends to disempower Muslims in India. We in Pakistan are very fortunate to enjoy our own country’s citizenship.
The right to citizenship is the right to have other rights, such as the right to vote. However, laced with discrimination, grounded in antipathy, on 11 December 2019, in order to amend the Citizenship Act of 1955, the Parliament of India passed a very controversial new law in the form of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019 which will grant Indian citizenship to religious minorities such as Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians, Parsis, Jains and persecuted Hindus; but which pointedly excludes Muslims. This new citizenship law was championed by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and effectively formalized on 12 December by President Ram Nath Kovind. It has been met with large scale protests across India with critics citing it as grossly divisive, exclusivist, discriminatory and likely to further polarise Indian society. Much is being discussed about the increasing possibility of India abandoning its foundational ‘secular structure’ and heading towards a regressive route marked by overt Hindu supremacy following the passing of this the new law.
President of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen Asaduddin Owaisi lambasted the Islamophobic new law, denouncing that ‘We are heading toward totalitarianism, a fascist state…We are making India a theocratic country.’ Acclaimed Indian author Arundhati Roy likened the new law to the 1935 Nuremberg Laws of the Third Reich: ‘Are we going to stand in line once again, obediently, and comply with this policy that eerily resembles the 1935 Nuremberg Laws of the Third Reich? If we do, India will cease to exist. We are faced with the biggest challenge since Independence.’ To provide a bit of historical context to this chilling comparison, it must be noted that the 1935 Nuremberg Laws were predicated on the ‘Protection of German Blood and German Honour.’ Continue reading
Properly understood, the important right to citizenship is the right to have other rights such as the right to reside in one’s country of residence and to consular protection. Having been prime minister for just six months, Imran Khan has inexplicably made some rather grandiose plans regarding how his shambolic government plans to illegally hand out Pakistani citizenship to millions of so-called “Afghan refugees” in Pakistan who simply have no right to remain in the country, let alone be granted the right to citizenship. In other words, Imran Khan’s so-called “new Pakistan” has already abdicated its own citizens’ rights by irresponsibly putting our country’s enemies before the rights of its own citizens. His recent statement that “Afghans whose children have been raised and born in Pakistan will be granted citizenship inshallah (God willing) because this is the established practice in countries around the world” is highly misleading and inaccurate. All this is entirely unacceptable and blatantly breaches Imran Khan’s campaign promise that Pakistan is for Pakistanis and that he will put Pakistan’s interests first above all else.
First of all, Pakistan does not participate in the Refugee Convention 1951 and so our country has no obligation whatsoever to give asylum to those arguing that they are fleeing persecution and cannot avail the protection of their home state. Yet the figures show that Pakistan has been hosting the world’s largest refugee population. Most of these persons are Afghan and some 2.7 million of them are present on Pakistani soil and 60 per cent of them were born in Pakistan and 1.5 million Afghans will benefit from the government’s new policy. Others include 400,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar and also several hundred thousand Bengalis from Bangladesh. Pakistan is said to be the only country in all of Asia to grant “unconditional” jus soli citizenship to those born within its borders under the Citizenship Act 1951. However, a close reading of the 1951 Act and Afghan law itself shows that in reality Afghans born in Pakistan have no legal right to Pakistani citizenship and are excluded from possessing it. Continue reading