The Trump Administration on Tuesday designated Pakistan, China, Saudi Arabia, Iran and seven others as countries of particular concern for having engaged in or tolerated “systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom.”
Simultaneously, the Trump Administration also designated al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, al-Qaeda, al-Shabab, Boko Haram, the Houthis, ISIS, ISIS-Khorasan, and the Taliban as Entities of Particular Concern.
“On November 28, 2018, I designated Burma (Myanmar), China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan, as Countries of Particular Concern under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 for having engaged in or tolerated “systematic, ongoing, (and) egregious violations of religious freedom,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday.
“I also placed Comoros, Russia, and Uzbekistan on a Special Watch List for governments that have engaged in or tolerated ‘severe violations of religious freedom’,” Pompeo said in a statement.
Pakistan rejects unilateral, politically motivated US move
Pakistan has rejected the United States State Department’s annual report on religious freedom in the country and urged the US to engage in self-introspection.
The report has been termed politically motivated in a statement issued by the Foreign Office. “Besides the clear biases reflected from these designations, there are serious questions on the credentials and impartiality of the self-proclaimed jury involved in this unwarranted exercise,” said the statement.
The statement said Pakistan is a multi-religious and pluralistic society where people of diverse faiths and denominations live together. Around 4% of the country’s total population comprises citizens belonging to Christian, Hindu, Budhists and Sikh faiths, said the statement, adding that ensuring equal treatment of minorities and their enjoyment of human rights without any discrimination is the cardinal principle of the Constitution.
According to a statement issued on Tuesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo designated Pakistan and nine other countries as “countries of particular concern” under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 for having engaged in or tolerated “systematic, ongoing, [and] egregious violations of religious freedom”.