New Delhi: Amid protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), newly-appointed French Ambassador to India Emmanuel Lenain Monday said the country’s diversity should be kept “as it is”.
Speaking to reporters in Delhi, the French envoy said issues such as the CAA and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) are India’s “internal matters”. He also expressed hope that the rule of law will ultimately prevail in India and said France will always uphold “freedom of all religions”.
Lenain’s remark came at a time when violent protests have erupted across the country against the new law, including in capital New Delhi. Students of many major universities have also taken to the streets in protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) act, which seeks to grant Indian citizenship to members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan until 31 December 2014.
The envoy also said France was closely coordinating with India on issues related to cross-border terrorism. Counter-terrorism measures have always been the cornerstone of the India-France relationship, he added.
France, along with the UK and US, had also spearheaded efforts to list Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar, the alleged mastermind many terror activities in India including February’s Pulwama attack, as a global terrorist at the United Nations in May this year.
Pakistan hasn’t fulfilled FATF commitments
Speaking about steps taken by the French government to stop terror financing, Lenain remarked that Pakistan has not fulfilled its commitment on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the Paris-based terror financing watchdog.
“Nobody can say that Pakistan has fulfilled its commitment (under the rules laid down by FATF),” he said.
In October this year, the FATF gave Pakistan time until February 2020 to comply with its rules — of stopping money laundering and financing of terror networks. Islamabad would be blacklisted if it does not adhere to these norms.
“Pressure need to be put on it (Pakistan) till the February deadline. We are very strict on this issue. We will keep the pressure (to fulfill its obligations),” he added.
Lenain also said India and the European Union, of which France is a member, should resume negotiations on the free trade agreement.
He, however, added that the “right kind of climate” is needed to resume such talks and where the final outcome can be “meaningful and ambitious”.