Agenda 2020 – CAA – Impact on Relations with Multiple Countries Likely in 2020
While protests are raging against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in the country the external fallout of the Citizenship Amendment Act is evident with a number of challenges that are being faced in managing relations. Reactions from Pakistan were on expected lines but the impact of relations with Bangladesh, cancellation of the summit by Japan and tensions likely to build up in engagement with Malaysia and possibly Turkey in the future apart from members of liberal communities in the United States need to be factored in India’s diplomacy in 2020
On the Indo Pakistan front, after cross border terrorism and repealing of Article 370 another issue has been added that is the Citizenship Amendment Act
On December 17, 2019, reacting to the Resolution in the Pakistan National Assembly, the Ministry of External Affairs in a Press release stated, “ The Resolution adopted by Pakistan’s National Assembly yesterday makes references to matters that are entirely the internal affairs of India. We categorically reject the Resolution. It is a thinly-veiled attempt by Pakistan to further its false narrative on the issue of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh. It seeks to provide justification for Pakistan’s unrelenting support for cross-border terrorist activities in India. We are confident that such attempts will fail. The Resolution is a poorly disguised effort 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.
The Resolution intentionally mischaracterizes the objectives of the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019. This Act gives citizenship to foreigners from selected countries who are persecuted religious minorities. It does not take away the citizenship of any Indian irrespective of her or his faith. It is laughable that the National Assembly of Pakistan that has itself passed discriminatory legislation against religious minorities, should point fingers at others. We call upon Pakistan to engage in serious self-introspection rather than to falsely accuse others of what they themselves are guilty of. Pakistan would do well to remember that India is the world’s largest democracy, that all its Governments have been freely and fairly elected through universal adult franchise, and that all Indians irrespective of faith enjoy equal rights under the Constitution. We urge Pakistan to similarly aspire to these ideals”.
On the same day in a separate statement the ministry of external Affairs stated, “In response to query on the statement made by Pakistan Prime Minister at the Global Refugee Forum in Geneva, the Official Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said: “Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has once again peddled familiar falsehoods at a multilateral platform to advance his narrow political agenda by making gratuitous and unwarranted remarks on matters entirely internal to India. It should now be clear to the entire world that this is an established pattern of his habitual and compulsive abuse of global forums. It has been the unfortunate experience of most of Pakistan’s neighbours that actions by that country have had adverse consequences next door. Over the past 72 years, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan has systematically persecuted all of its minorities, forcing most of them to flee to India. Moreover, Prime Minister Khan wishes the world forgets what his Army did in 1971 to the people of the erstwhile East Pakistan. Pakistan must act to protect and promote the rights of its own minorities and co-religionists.”
Meanwhile countries as Malaysia which have come out openly against the same. Earlier the Ministry of External Affairs had to manage the fallout of the cancellation of the visit of Japanese Prime Minister for the annual summit and the ministers from Bangladesh for talks.
Ministry of External Affairs in a statement indicated, “that according to media reports, the Prime Minister of Malaysia has yet again remarked on a matter that is entirely internal to India. The Citizenship Amendment Act provides for citizenship through naturalization to be fast-tracked for non-citizens who are persecuted minorities from three countries. The Act does not impact in any manner on the status of any citizen of India, or deprive any Indian of any faith of her or his citizenship. Therefore, the Prime Minister of Malaysia’s comment is factually inaccurate. We call upon Malaysia to refrain from commenting on internal developments in India, especially without a right understanding of the facts”.
The annual India Japan summit was to be held from December 15-17 in Guwahati though the place had not been announced by the two sides. Preparations had been ongoing an a Japanese team was in Guwahati to make a final assessment but could not move in the City due to the impact of the violence in the capital as well as in a number of states in the North East. The Ministry is already contesting Pakistan’s statements on the issue including a resolution passed by the parliament.
India has been playing down the impact of cancellation of visits by Bangladesh foreign and home ministers and of the Joint River Commission delegation. Raveesh Kumar, spokesman of the external affairs ministry is reported to have said that, “Our understanding is that the relationship as close as between our two countries should not [be] defined in terms of a postponement of a visit here or there… In any case, Bangladesh has explained why the visits have been postponed. In fact, the Bangladesh foreign minister has issued a statement [on] why the Joint Water Commission was postponed and he essentially says that it was postponed because they did not have the data from the six common rivers…” The six rivers are Muhuri, Monu, Dharla, Khowai, Gumti and Dudhkumar.
In the US, members of the Democrat Party are likely to increasingly question the restrictions imposed in Kashmir for instance and perceived denial of rights to minorities in the country, which will test the diplomatic establishments on both sides in the coming months.