Citizenship Bill: Did Amit Shah Give Pak & Jinnah a Clean Chit?
File image of Union Home Minister Amit Shah. 
File image of Union Home Minister Amit Shah. (Photo: PTI)

Citizenship Bill: Did Amit Shah Give Pak & Jinnah a Clean Chit?

Speaking on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2019 in the Lok Sabha on Monday, 9 December, Union Home Minister Amit Shah made two curious remarks which unwittingly strengthen Pakistan’s case against India.

Clean Chit to Pakistan on Balochistan?

“There is no persecution of Muslims in Pakistan,” Shah said, in response to criticism from Opposition MPs that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill provides for giving citizenship to all Afghan, Bangladeshi and Pakistani refugees, except Muslims.

This comment in some ways ends up giving Islamabad a clean chit on its treatment of the Baloch, Shias and Ahmadis. Pakistan has been accused of persecuting these sections and the victims are almost entirely Muslims.

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Shah’s statement that “Muslims are not persecuted in Pakistan” also runs contrary to the stand taken by India at international fora on Balochistan.

For instance, in September 2016, Ajit Kumar, India’s representative at the United Nations said, “This is a country (Pakistan), which has systematically abused and violated the human rights of its own citizens, including in Balochistan”.

In his Independence Day Speech in 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had invoked Pakistan’s persecuted Muslim minorities by saying, “The people of Balochistan, the people of Gilgit, the people of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir have thanked me in such a manner, from places that I have never been and never had a chance to meet, they have sent wishes to the people of India and thanked us.”

Around the same time PM Modi said, “Pakistan forgets that it bombs its own citizens using fighter planes. The time has come when Pakistan shall have to answer to the world for the atrocities committed by it against people in Balochistan and POK (Pakistan-occupied Kashmir)”.

But now with Amit Shah saying that Muslims – which would include Baloch and people of PoK – are not being persecuted by Pakistan, it is not clear how India will be able to continue with this line of argument.

Shah Blames Congress for Partition. So What About Jinnah?

The other controversial remark Shah made during the debate on whether the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill should be introduced was his statement directly blaming the Congress for the Partition of India.

“Why are we discussing this Bill? We are discussing it because Congress partitioned India in 1947,” an angry Shah said, in response to Opposition MPs’ allegation that the Bill is unconstitutional and discriminatory.

Shah’s comment is one-sided and in some ways ignores the role played by Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s Muslim League as well as the British. It also ignores the role played by Hindu extremists like VD Savarkar who came with his own version of the two nation theory in the 1920s.

Historian Srinath Raghavan reacted to Amit Shah’s statement by reminding what Socialist leader Ram Manohar Lohia said about the Sangh’s role in bringing about the Partition.

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