ISLAMABAD: Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal has rejected fudged numbers churned out by leaders of India's ruling BJP on Pakistan's “dwindling minority population”.
During the parliamentary debate on the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led party repeatedly claimed that population of religious minorities in Pakistan had declined from 23 per cent in 1947 to 3.7 per cent in 2011.
The Indian government has introduced a controversial bill offering citizenship to illegal immigrants from three neighbouring countries if they belong to non-Muslim minority groups. Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians who have entered India illegally can apply for citizenship if they can prove they originate from Muslim-majority Pakistan, Bangladesh or Afghanistan.
The BJP government claims that minorities in these countries are dwindling, and that they face persecution due to their faith.
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Dr Faisal, while speaking to The Express Tribune on Saturday, said the claim is contrary to historical facts and census results. He said the number of non-Muslim population drastically dropped due to creation of Bangladesh. “Therefore, blaming Pakistan for persecution against the non-Muslim population is unfounded and a lie,” he added.
“The white part of Pakistan’s flag is equally sacred to us as its green,” he said. The white colour in Pakistan’s national flag reflects non-Muslim population of the country.
During the debate on the controversial bill in the Indian parliament, Home Minister Amit Shah alleged that Pakistan’s non-Muslim population had shrunk from 23% in 1947 to 3.7% due to persecution. However, Shah, in his animosity against Pakistan, quoted the combined data for both East and West Pakistan (now Bangladesh).
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There is no official data available for the country’s population based on people’s religious beliefs at the time of partition in 1947. However according to 1951 census, the country’s non-Muslim population was 14.20 per cent (both for East and West Pakistan).
It may be noted that Pakistan's non-Muslim population was not evenly distributed according to 1951’s census. In West Pakistan, the non-Muslim population was just 3.44 per cent, while in East Pakistan (today’s Bangladesh) it was 23.20 per cent of the total population.
The data on religious background for the recently-held census in 2017 is yet to be released by the government. However, according to the previous census carried out in 1998, Pakistan’s non-Muslim population stood at 3.7 per cent of the total population, signaling that the share of non-Muslims has remained at or around 3.5 per cent from the time of first census in 1951.
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