Published: Fri, January 05, 2018
Health Care | By Oscar Goodwin

State Department Puts Pakistan on Watch List for Severe Religious Freedom Violations

State Department Puts Pakistan on Watch List for Severe Religious Freedom Violations

Separately, the U.S. State Department redesignated 10 countries, including Myanmar, China, Iran and North Korea, as "countries of particular concern" for having engaged in or tolerated violations of religious freedom.

"In far too many places around the globe, people continue to be persecuted, unjustly prosecuted, or imprisoned for exercising their right to freedom of religion or belief", according to the statement.

The US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIS) which has been seeking to designate Pakistan as CPC, however, expressed its disappointment with the decision of Tillerson in this regard.

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Pakistan will continue to work with the global community to ensure that internationally agreed standards on religious freedom are observed in Pakistan and the broader region.

Pakistan is firmly committed to the promotion and protection of human rights including the right of religious freedom, under its Constitution.

Moeed Yusuf, associate vice president of the United States Institute of Peace, said there is a consensus within the Trump administration that it would increase pressure on Pakistan.

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House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) praised the White House for making religious freedom designations a priority but was disappointed that Vietnam was not designated as a CPC. He added that Pakistan considers its minorities an important part of its social fabric.

"The governments that have been designated as CPCs are subject to "Presidential Actions", such as sanctions, which may include economic or political measures directed against a government to encourage it to improve the state of religious freedom in its country", the spokesperson said in response to a question. "These designations are aimed at improving the respect for religious freedom in these countries".

Pakistani government has said it is already doing a lot to fight militants and summoned the U.S. ambassador David Hale to explain a tweet by Trump that said the United States had been foolish in dispensing aid to Islamabad. Pakistan was the only country in the new category.

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The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom has been advocating for designating Pakistan as a CPC since 2002.

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