The British leader mocked on social media after hinting that the farmers’ protest for weeks was a cross-border issue involving Pakistan’s archiving.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was criticized on social media Wednesday after suggesting that Indian farmers’ protest against the new laws was an issue between New Delhi and its longtime enemy neighbor Pakistan.
During Question Period in the UK Parliament, MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi said that “water cannons, tear gas and brute force” were being used against Indian protesters and questioned the British government over the protests lasting several months.
“Will the Prime Minister convey to the Prime Minister of India our sincere anxieties and our hopes for a quick resolution of the current impasse, and does he agree that everyone has the fundamental right to peaceful protest?” Singh asked.
Johnson replied: “Our view is that the right hon. Gentleman knows well that of course we are seriously concerned about what is going on between India and Pakistan.
“But these are first and foremost issues to be settled between these two governments, and I know he appreciates that point,” Johnson added.
The world is watching, the problem is huge with hundreds of thousands of protesters around the world (including in London, reported by the BBC) and Boris Johnson’s usual bluff and boast embarrassing our nation even more. Absolutely bad! So disappointed with his response.
– Deputy Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi (@TanDhesi) December 9, 2020
Shortly after his comments, Twitter users mocked him for his puzzling statement with MP Afzal Khan calling him “a new low even for Boris Johnson”.
“The problem has nothing to do with India and Pakistan. Amazing, ”Khan said.
A new bass even for @BorisJohnson
Prime Minister responded with repeated and unrelated response to India and Pakistan
The problem has nothing to do with Pakistan. Unbelievable. pic.twitter.com/yUFPOakY0h
– Deputy Afzal Khan (@ Afzal4Gorton) December 9, 2020
The protests are linked to three agricultural laws passed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government this year that deregulate crop prices, which farmers say will hurt their livelihoods and only benefit big business.
Thousands of farmers, mostly from the Indian states of Punjab and Haryana – known as the grain bowl of India – have blocked key highways connecting New Delhi to neighboring states for more than two weeks.
????? British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Indian Farmers’ Protest: We have serious concerns about the issues between India and Pakistan which are first and foremost for them to resolve ????
I hope the UK Foreign Office clarifies. https://t.co/115GCQEAcI
– Suhasini Haidar (@suhasinih) December 9, 2020
Another parliamentarian, Zahra Sultana, pointed out that Johnson appeared to confuse the farmers’ protest with the international conflict between India and Pakistan over the disputed region of Kashmir.
“Is it too much to ask of a prime minister who knows the difference between Kashmir and Punjab?” Sultana posted on Twitter.
Until today #PMQs:@TanDhesi: Will the Prime Minister speak out for protesting against Punjab farmers in the face of repression?@BorisJohnson: I am concerned about what is happening between India and Pakistan.
Is it too much to ask for a PM who knows the difference between Kashmir and Punjab? ??♀️
– Deputy Zarah Sultana (@zarahsultana) December 9, 2020
India and Pakistan claim the territory of Kashmir in its entirety, but govern parts of it. Many Kashmiris are asking for either a merger with Pakistan or an independent state.
Nuclear-weapon nations have fought three wars in the past 70 years, including two in Kashmir.