Religious freedom violations: Pakistan rejects being placed on US watch list

Pakistan rejected on Friday its designation in the “special watch list for severe violations of religious freedom” by the United States.

The move comes on the heels of the US suspending military aid to Pakistan, demanding Islamabad to do more against Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network.

“The report is not based on objective criteria,” Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal said in a statement.

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

This placement on special watch list is a new categorisation and we would be seeking clarification from the US regarding its rationale and implications, he added.

US places Pakistan on watch list for religious freedom violations

He said the designation overlooked the significant achievements of Pakistan in the area of human rights.

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

He highlighted that wide-ranging legislative, institutional and administrative measures had been taken by the government to ensure full implementation of guarantees afforded by the Constitution.

Dr Faisal said the international community is aware of steps being taken by Pakistan that have brought about positive changes on ground.

“It is surprising that countries that have a well known record of systematic persecution of religious minorities have not been included in the list,” the spokesperson added. “This reflects the double standards and political motives behind the listing and hence lacks credibility.”

Dr Faisal said Pakistan will continue to work with the international community to ensure that internationally agreed standards on religious freedom are observed in Pakistan and the region.

Decision comes days after White House said Islamabad would have to do more to receive US aid

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