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CAA move a self-goal, India now seen as intolerant: Former foreign secy Shivshankar Menon

Shivshankar Menon, who was also the former NSA, said the amendment to the Citizenship Act has hyphenated India with Pakistan, isolating it.

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New Delhi: Former Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon on Friday said the government’s amendment to the Citizenship Act was a “self-inflicted goal” which has “isolated” India and resulted in the country being “hyphenated” with Pakistan as an “intolerant” state.

Speaking at a press conference here where a number of academicians discussed the adverse implications of the contentious law which has led to nationwide protests, Menon said India has “gifted” its adversaries “platforms to attack us”.

“What we have achieved in the recent past is to hyphenate our (India’s) image with Pakistan in a fundamental way, which is an intolerant state,” said the former National Security Adviser.

Responding to a question on whether these moves would affect India’s foreign policy, Menon said, “In diplomacy, you don’t have to tell the truth. So the calculation of the countries would be how they can promote their interests. They will not fight for your human rights. So, we have given them a platform to use, a lever, to pressure us to get what they want. This, I think, was unnecessary and a self-inflicted goal”.

He said the perception of the country has changed after the controversial amendment to the citizenship law was passed.

“India has isolated itself through the move and the list of critical voices in the international community is also pretty long now. Perception of India has changed in the last few months. Even our friends have been taken aback,” Menon said.

Referring to Bangladesh Home Minister ?Asaduzzaman Khan’s response that “let them fight amongst themselves” when asked about CAA and NRC, Menon said, “If this is how our friends feel, think of how happy this will make our adversary”.

He said the global opinion was on India’s side when it assisted the formation of Bangladesh.

“What is happening now is quite another scenario. We are increasingly being isolated, we have no international support apart from a section of Indian diaspora and some extreme right Members of the European Parliament,” he said.

Menon served as National Security Adviser under former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. He had previously served as Foreign Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs.

He noted that several world leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and chiefs of UN bodies on human rights and refugees, were critical of the recent moves and referred to international conventions on human rights, civil and political rights as well as economic, social and cultural rights.

“What the world thinks matters more to us now than ever before. But we seem determined with actions like these (CAA) to cut off and isolate ourselves. That is no good to anybody,” he said.

Also read: ‘Consider steps to oppose CAA’ — Kerala CM Vijayan writes to chief ministers of 11 states

Expressing concern that India now seems to be in violation of international covenants, he said, “Those who think that international laws cannot be enforced, they must consider political and other consequences of being perceived as violators of international conventions”.

Menon also referred to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s cancellation of a scheduled meeting with a US congressional delegation over the presence of Indian American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, who has been critical of the Indian government.

“Rather than attending the meeting and putting forth India’s views, we chose to duck,” he said.

The United Nations Security Council discussed Kashmir for the first time in 40 years following the scrapping of special status to Jammu and Kashmir, Menon said.

He also expressed concern over the breaking of bipartisan consensus in the US on India with actions like Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Howdy Modi’ event in Houston when he said ‘Ab ki baar, Trump Sarkar’.

According to the CAA, non-Muslim refugees who came to India till December 31, 2014, to escape religious persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan will be given Indian citizenship.

Speaking at the event, another retired diplomat — Deb Mukherji — who served as India’s ambassador to Bangladesh, said though it was true that Hindus have been persecuted, it was not to the extent that has been presented by the government.

He said certain prominent persons have also been suitably punished in that country for committing crimes against Hindus.

Others who spoke at the event at the Press Club were academicians included Zoya Hasan, Niraja Jayal and Faizan Mustafa among others.

Also read: India reached out to diplomatic missions 10 days before citizenship law was passed


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  1. I feel such a learner diplomat is miss using the platform to convey wrong picture to the world of India.As far as Hindus,Sikh’s& Jains are concerned they do not have any place in the world to live so allowing them to be the citizens of India is not wrong.I seriously oppose Mr Menon’s view regarding India’s policy,, rather being from Kerala should have conveyed a message to the chief minister of Kerala for opposing the CAA.

  2. India has sovereign right to give citizenship whosoever they want under UN charter. US is deporting selectively illegal migrants and keeping useful one by many different VISA provisions. Even DACA is one such was revoked by Trump.
    India is not violating anyone’s human rights by denying illegal Muslims but giving citizenship to those who are here for last five years due to persecution in their native country. How Muslims should feel persecuted in Islamic country made under religion name?
    Why Pakistan & Bangladesh failed to protect their minorities? Why no one questions them being Islamic though 20-30% were non Muslims?

  3. Did he get anything done for terrorism attack emanated from Pakistan except oft repeated inquiry?
    Modi has now put Pakistan in cage of FATF and raised cost of attacking India too a level that even nuclear bogey can’t move world against India’s interest,
    World respects strength not cowardice. What India is doing is right for Indian citizens. Now we have power to call a shot and still keep oil supply steady by having strategic storages. No more appeasement of one community over majority.

  4. Sometimes brilliant minds also go warped – the stand govt had taken is absolutely ok looking at the larger demographic dimension of our nation.. we stand by it ; all u need is an indomitable spirit to carry out what u set out to achieve . Israel a tiny dot on the world map does not cower down to any int’l agencies why do indians have to then? We are world’s largest consumer market after US ; world needs us too ; d day we understand this we will not have tails between d legs and will have d teeth to gnash out anyone who dares to scheme against us. Need of d hour is solidarity

  5. The government should pay heed to opinions and assessments of experts who have spent years in their field. There is a need for course correction.

  6. A former national security adviser and foreign secretary should offer this sort of opinion is indeed surprising. What CAA has done is to give accelerated citizenship to a specific group of persons and nothing more. How can that be concern of anybody else in the world? And even if it is so, why should India bother about it? There is no problem if SSM is anti Modi but we don’t expect a person of his standing to use CAA to attack Modi.

    • You are completely wrong. India has no provisions to give citizenship to “illegal migrants” before CAA. The requirements of 11 year stay for citizenship through naturalization is for foreigners who entered legally with travel documents.
      After CAA “illegal non-muslim migrants” from the three countries will be given citizenship whereas illegal muslims can never apply for citizenship. You government is lying and misleading you.

  7. Someone knows more about Britain sitting in India; more than some of us who follow the local news on a daily basis.

  8. Some members of the diaspora may have come to the adverse notice of the security establishments of their host countries. They are displaying split loyalties that their oath of allegiance debars. A Conservative government in Britain was offended that they were campaigning against Labour due to a stand the opposition party had taken on an issue that did not concern Britain directly.

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