In a fresh move, the United States of America has put Pakistan on its ‘special watch list’ for ‘severe violations of religious freedom’, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said on Thursday. Around ten other nations have been listed as ‘Countries of Particular Concern’ by the US.
“Today, we have re-designated Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan as Countries of Particular Concern, and Pakistan as part of a Special Watch List for severe violations of religious freedom,” Nauert said on Twitter.
Without offering any other explanation on Pakistan, she further said, “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.”
Highlighting the issue of religious rights’ violation, Nauert said, “Today, a number of governments infringe upon individuals’ ability to adopt, change, or renounce their religion or belief, worship in accordance with their religion or beliefs, or be free from coercion to practice a particular religion or belief.”
The United States Secretary of State annually designates governments, which have undertaken or allowed measures to violate religious freedom, as ‘Countries of Particular Concern’ observing the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom has been demanding the designation of Pakistan as a CPC since 2002, arguing that the government of Pakistan continues “to perpetrate and tolerate systematic, ongoing, and egregious religious freedom violations. Religiously discriminatory constitutional provisions and legislation, such as the country’s blasphemy and anti-Ahmadiyya laws, continue to result in prosecutions and imprisonments”.