USCIRF Report and India: Normative Dualism of the US

Inside a state, there are multiple religious and ethnic groups whose safety matters the most for it. There are international regimes and institutions that keep on reminding the state and international community as well if there are any violations of human rights. International Religious Freedom (IRF) Act was passed in the USA to ask all the states to ensure the religious freedom of all groups residing inside a state. According to the Act, the US can push the international community to follow religious freedom, can take soft measures against the violators, and can ask those to obey who have bilaterally good relations with America. But unfortunately, that Act passed in 1998, is being exploited by the US State Department for its geopolitical interests. Pakistan is a state where multiple religious groups are living in harmony, and the state has done a lot in bringing peace, especially among religious communities. But unfortunately, it has been continuously marked as a ‘country of particular concern’, which is the clause used for the states who have the worst experience of religious freedom. Surprisingly, in India where religious minorities especially Muslims are being blatantly targeted not only by the RSS but also the state officials are not been listed since 2004 besides the recommendation of the United States Commission of International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).

USCIRF is the body that works under the IRF Act, headed by an ambassador at large. The body gives policy recommendations to the Secretary of the State about religious freedom and states’ agenda about religious freedom all across the world. It keeps checking whether a state is maintaining religious freedom or not, and if some violation is observed, that country is listed as a ‘country of particular concern’, to counter which America can use negotiations as well as coercive measures including sanctions. The IRF Report of 2021, 22, and 23, issued by the US State Department has listed Pakistan as a state of particular concern. However, the Foreign Office of Pakistan has condemned such allegations and called the decisions biased. And to a very extent, the decisions which State Department takes on the subject matter are explaining their political interests rather than any moral obligation.

The international community is condemning India as a human rights violator. USCIRF reports from last 4 years have been marking India in the list of CPCs. Muslims in the country are attacked on a daily basis. A series of hate speeches against religious minorities by state officials is not condemned by the government itself. The country is now ruled by RSS-backed BJP leaders, who promulgate Hindutva-a severely extremist ideology- as state narrative. It claims that Hindustan only belongs to the Hindus, and minorities like Muslims have no place in the country. International human rights organizations have unveiled the very fact about Muslims’ miserable conditions in India just because of their religious discordance. USCIRF is also an independent body that has nothing to do with the State Department politics rather suggesting them a very neutral and well-researched policy brief. But the politics and the geopolitical interests of the US have protected India and portrayed it as a good friend of America against China. 

In 2020, when Donald Trump was on his visit to India, riots emerged in which Hindu mob targeted Muslims. On the other side, Trump was praising Modi for his campaign against ‘radical Islamic terrorism. He said that India is one of America’s greatest, most devoted, and most loyal friends. He has done a truly exceptional job for India and all the Indian people.” The same narrative is being followed by the present Biden administration as well. Aditya Nath Yogi, a hardliner and extremist member of BJP whose hate speeches can be enough to mark India’s inability of ensuring religious freedom, is Chief Minister of Utter Pradesh, home of more than 200 million Muslims. He had clearly said that Muslims in India can’t be tolerated, even though he hypes the mob on ideologically extremist viewpoints of RSS. RSS just resembles ISIS, because of its agenda. Both want to change the status quo, as ISIS wants an Islamic Caliphate, while RSS wants a Hindu India. Salman Khurshid, an Indian Congress member also referred RSS with ISIS, for which he was badly criticized in India.

Besides such eye-opening facts, the US has not marked India on the list. The political and geo-strategic interests of America have politicized the whole commission. The US needs India to counter China in the Indo-Pacific. Even though the academic discourse in America has condemned Hindutva and human rights violations by RSS, the political discourse has not taken the stance yet. A conference, “Dismantling Global Hindutva,” was organized in America in September of this year, which revealed the internal dynamics of the ideology and how it is sewing RSS agenda against minorities, but the political elite does not cohere. Pakistan even after playing a major role in the Afghan peace process and meeting the maximum conditions of FATF, is criticized. US senators have called to make an investigation team to analyze Pakistan’s role in the Afghan peace process because according to them the sudden fall of Kabul is because of Pakistan. So, history has revealed that Pakistan has been exploited by America to earth its failures, and because of the former’s bonhomie with China. India is privileged because America wants to have a strong ally against China to secure its interests in the Indo-Pacific region. 

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