USA puts Pakistan on watch list for religious freedom violations

Pakistani demonstrators burn the US flag at a protest in Quetta on Jan 4 as Washington escalated its criticism over militant safe havens

Pakistani demonstrators burn the US flag at a protest in Quetta on Jan 4 as Washington escalated its criticism over militant safe havens

Chairman Dr. Tahirul Qadri on Friday said that nothing is more important than the integrity of Pakistan and said the country has given numerous sacrifices in the war on terror.

Annually, the secretary of state designates governments that have engaged in or tolerated ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom.

Sabah adds: While stating that US President Donald Trump is frustrated but also values a partnership with Pakistan, the US National Security Adviser HR McMaster has alleged Islamabad only goes after terrorists selectively while it sustains and supports others who act as an arm of its foreign policy.

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The commission had recommended that Russia, Vietnam, Syria, Nigeria, and the Central African Republic be added, and that Pakistan should have been included on the list of CPCs, rather than the lower designation of "Special Watch List".

Trump calls on Saudis to "immediately" lift Yemen blockade Trump has yet to name ambassadors to key nations in Mideast Mattis, Tillerson warned Trump of security concerns in Israel embassy move MORE moved to redesignate Myanmar, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan as countries of "particular concern".

While putting Pakistan on the worldwide religious freedom blacklist itself is a normal process, experts said the timing is "very ominous".

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"The protection of religious freedom is vital to peace, stability, and prosperity", the department said in a statement. "These designations are aimed at improving the respect for religious freedom in these countries".

The PAT chief was conducting a press conference in PAT's Secretariat and was addressing recent measures taken by the USA against Pakistan after President Trump's January 1 tweet.

A bipartisan group of six senators, including Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR), asked Tillerson in October to make Pakistan a CPC, citing systematic religious oppression. Advocates of religious freedom applauded the list, but said that several additional countries should have been added.

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"However, I am troubled that Vietnam was again not designated this year", he said. The country has a dominantly Muslim north with the south being Christian. "The Vietnamese people continue to have their religious freedom and other human rights violated. The U.S. should never shrink from calling out countries for such abuses", Royce said.

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