In statement, spokesman says census data proves Delhi is distorting facts as part of smear campaign against Pakistan
The Foreign Office on Wednesday categorically rejected recent statements by the Indian government alleging that the persecution of minorities in Pakistan had resulted in reducing the population of religious minorities in the country from 23 percent in 1947 to 3.7 percent in 2011.
In a statement, spokesman Mohammad Faisal said that Delhi had purposely sought to sow confusion by using census data from 1941 and ignoring two major developments that had caused massive demographic shifts in Pakistan: (i) mass migrations during Partition in 1947; and (ii) the separation of East Pakistan (Bangladesh) in 1971. Both these developments, said the statement, had resulted in substantial changes to the minority population of the country, and were unrelated to any alleged persecution.
According to the press release, the percentage of minorities in Pakistan had actually increased since the country’s independence, as was readily visible in updated census data.
According to the first census in Pakistan (1951), the total population of minorities in West Pakistan stood at 3.12 percent. This increased to 3.72 percent in 1998, it added. Subsequent censuses show that the overall share of minorities in Pakistan remained relatively stable: 2.96 percent in 1961; 3.25 percent in 1972; 3.33 percent in 1981; and 3.72 percent in 1998.
The detailed breakdown of the 1998 census further shows that the Hindu population of Pakistan actually increased from around 1.5 percent in 1951 to nearly 2 percent in 1998.
The Foreign Office statement, while clarifying the distortion of facts by the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government in India, however fails to take into account the declaration of Ahmadis as a minority population in 1974, which would also have an impact on the census data.
The statement claims that Delhi’s allegations are merely designed to justify its controversial and discriminatory Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, adding this was in line with the Indian government’s ongoing “smear campaign” against Pakistan. It said this same campaign was being used by Delhi to try and cover up its systematic efforts to marginalize and disenfranchise India’s religious and social minorities, particularly Muslims. “India’s pretensions of casting itself as a ‘haven’ for minorities are completely devoid of any credibility,” it added.
It said the rising wave of ‘Hindutva’ under the BJP government had led to rapid political, economic and social victimization of Muslims and other religious and social minorities, including Dalits. The ongoing persecution of residents of India-held Kashmir is further proof of India’s extremist mindset, it added.
The Foreign Office release said the international community was already taking notice of India’s actions, and hope it would hold India to account.