No right to question India when its own closet is brimming with skeletons: Here is why USCIRF should back off on CAA

PM Modi with bust of Shivaji in Maharashtra during rally (image: @amitmalviya on Twitter)

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has condemned the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 (CAA, then CAB) of the Narendra Modi government stating that it is deeply troubledby the bill and recommends sanctions on Home Minister Amit Shah and other principal leadershipif the CAB (now CAA) successfully goes through both the houses.

Liberals and self-proclaimed intellectualshave gone gaga over the report. These people are suffering from an existential crisis as their unabated access into the functioning of the government has been neutralised by Prime Minister Modi, and thus, theyre hanging onto the USCIRF report like a desperate man clinging onto a feeble branch in a raging river. If they depend too much on this branchthey will flow away in the current and drown.

The reason for saying so is that the US itself has explicitly or tacitly indulged in a plethora of human rights violations and looked away from bloody acts that have punished innocents for being born into a faith that doesnt sit down well with the regressive beliefs of the majority. The US has absolutely no moral standing to question the Narendra Modi government as the one thing this dispensation has shown is a staunch desire to take development to all sections of the society without any shred of discrimination. (Seems like the USCIRF was more happy with Manmohan Singhs statement about minorities having first right on the resources of the country probably because the US had an influence on Indian policies back then which has now been blown to smithereens).

Read: USCIRF, the commission that recommended denial of US visa to Modi, threats US sanctions against Amit Shah if CAB is passed

The USCIRF is said to be an independent body. However, it is not exactly a non-political entity considering that it was created by The International Religious Freedom Act of 1998which was passed by the 105th US Congress (1997-99) and signed into law by the then-President Bill Clinton. The first sentence of the act reveals a lot: An act to express United States foreign policy with respect to, and to strengthen United States advocacy on behalf of, individuals persecuted in foreign countries on account of religion…” In simple words, what the USCIRF says and does is essentially an extension of US foreign policy. It will ignore what it sees unfit for the geopolitical interests of the country.

Why it chose to go to the extent of threatening sanctions on our leadership is because the US has been unable to influence and alter our policies since 2014, which, has been a regular feature of its functioning not just with respect to India but many other countries for decades. It is indeed the foremost superpower in the world but, somehow, it feels that it is also the international moral police. Ironically, in this case, the police has committed a hell of a lot more crimes that those it attempts to regulate and punish.

Before I go on to unravel a tiny piece of US hypocrisy, I wish to remind readers that what India has proposed through the CAA – shelter and citizenship for persecuted minorities in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh – is exactly what President Trump did in 2017. In an interview, he said that persecuted Christians will be given priority as refugees as they have been horribly treated. Nothing more needs to be said in this matter.

America has been particularly lenient towards Pakistan. The gravest injustice America did, despite always pretending to have an eye out for crimes against innocents, was when it ignored Pakistans sanguinary campaign in East Pakistan to eliminate Bengali Muslims and Hindus. At that time it suited America to support Pakistan as it was an ally against Communism and Soviet influence in South Asia, and so, it let millions be massacred, raped and displaced.

Read: USCIRF, the commission that recommended denial of US visa to Modi, threats US sanctions against Amit Shah if CAB is passed

This soft corner that the American establishment has for Pakistan continues till date as it looks away from atrocities committed in Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan and PoK. And all this simply because exposing Pakistans inhumane acts would hurt American interests. In this context, it doesnt give a toss for human rights.

Now, lets turn to Americas own history. (The following anecdotes have been taken from Noam Chomskys How The World Works)

In 1949, America put its espionage network in Eastern Europe under the control of Reinhard Gehlen. Gehlen had headed Nazi military intelligence on the Eastern Front. This network went on to take in many notorious Nazi criminals. Operations conducted under the US-Nazi allianceprovided agents and supplies to armies established by Hitler that were still up and running in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in the 1950s.

The Americans had invaded Panama in the early 90s. Once the invasion was over, President Bush announced an aid of $1 billion. The fascinating aspect to this aidpackage was that $400 million were incentives to US businesses to export products to Panama, $150 million was to pay off bank loans and $65 million were for private sector loans and guarantees to US investors. After ravaging the country with an invasion, American aid of $1 billion constituted of $615 million that essentially went from American taxpayers into the hands of American businesses. Is this looking after the interests of war-torn humans?

Suharto, a dictator of Indonesia in the 1960s, was largely supported by the West. His coming to power had involved the killing of almost 7 lakh people, and yet, it was allowed to happen. Another example of American apathy comes from Vietnam. As if the war and carnage unleashed wasnt enough to disrupt lives in Vietnam, the US went on to prevent even the most meagre aid from reaching the Vietnamese that was meant to act as a balm to the seething wounds. India wanted to send 100 water buffaloes to Vietnam but the US threatened to cancel Food for Peace aid. Pencils and solar pumps to Cambodia were also tried to be stopped by the State Department.

A perfect summing up to this article would be to quote the findings of two academics – Lars Schoultz and Edward Herman. The former discovered that US aid has tended to flow disproportionately to Latin governments which torture their citizens. Herman also found a close correlation between US aid and torture of citizens.

Vinayak Jain: Fiction and Political Writer | Geopolitics | Defence | Bibliophile