USA: Secretary Tillerson places Pakistan on special watch list for ‘religious freedom violations’


“Today, the Department of State announces that the Secretary of State re-designated Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan as Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) on December 22, 2017.”

Times of Ahmad | News Watch | Int’l Desk
Source/Credit: Daily Pakistan/Daily Caller
By Muhammad Irfan | January 4, 2018

The United States has placed Pakistan on a special watch list “for severe violations of religious freedom”, a press release by the US State Department said on Thursday.

The announcement came as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson decided to re-designate about 10 countries as ‘Countries of Particular Concern’.

“The secretary also placed Pakistan on a Special Watch List for severe violations of religious freedom,” State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said.

No other explanation on Pakistan was available immediately.

In accordance with the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, she said the secretary of state annually designates governments that have engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom as ‘Countries of Particular Concern’.

“Today, the Department of State announces that the Secretary of State re-designated Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan as Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) on December 22, 2017,” she said.

The international community has long scrutinized Pakistan for its history of abusive practices against Christians, Hindus, and Shia and Ahmadiyya Muslims. Twenty-four British politicians sent a letter to Pakistan’s leaders in August urging them to repeal the country’s blasphemy laws, which are often abused as tools in personal vendettas between individuals or to prosecute those who are not Sunni Muslims.

The 2016 U.S. International Religious Freedom Report for Pakistan states that Islam is the state religion of the country, that blasphemy laws are strictly enforced, and that religious minorities in Pakistan continue to suffer abuses ranging from attacks and murders by fellow citizens, forced conversions, and arranged marriages to Muslims.

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