India on Thursday hit back at Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan for slamming the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, saying such 'unwarranted' criticism cannot absolve Islamabad of the 'blatant persecution' of religious minorities in the neighbouring country.
External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said the persecution of the religious minorities in Pakistan flows from the country's Constitution and its 'draconian' blasphemy laws.
On Tuesday, Khan said that the bill 'violates all norms of international human rights law and bilateral agreements with Pakistan' and that 'it is part of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh Hindu Rashtra design of expansionism'.
"I am not going to respond to every unwarranted and gratuitous comments made by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on our internal affairs," Kumar said.
"Such comments cannot absolve Pakistan of the blatant persecution of the religious minorities which flows, including from the discrimination imbibed in its Constitution, the draconian blasphemy laws and the apathy of state institutions in protecting girls belonging to minority community from rape, abduction, forced conversion and marriages," Kumar said.
He said Pakistan needs to look inwards and ensure protection and promotion of the rights of its minorities rather than 'compulsively' commenting on internal affairs of other countries in the breach of internationally recognised norms.
Kumar also said that the government has reached out to the members of the United States Congress and other stakeholders to share its perspective on the bill.
The US House Foreign Affairs Committee had voiced concerns over the bill, noting that any religious test for citizenship undermines pluralism, which is one of the core shared values for both India and the United States.
Asked about the panel's observation, Kumar said the government of India's views on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill has already been articulated in Parliament.
"We have reached out to the members of the US Congress, we have reached out to other stakeholders to share our perspective on the bill," he said.
"We feel that given our strong engagement with the Congress and other stakeholders in the US on matters of mutual interest, we expect that the members of the US Congress will take into account our views before drawing a conclusion on the bill," he added.
House Foreign Affairs Committee had tweeted on Monday, 'Religious pluralism is central to the foundations of both India and the United States and is one of our core shared values.'
'Any religious test for citizenship undermines this most basic democratic tenet,' it had said.
Sources said Indian missions will apprise various countries about the bill.
Completing the legislative process for giving Indian citizenship to non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, the contentious bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.
The Lok Sabha had cleared it on Monday.