Pakistan's Ambassador to the United States Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry has said that Islamabad is seeking a clarification from Washington over its recent announcement to place Pakistan on a special watch list "for severe violations of religious freedom".

“We have noted the announcement by the US State Department regarding placement of Pakistan on a special watch list,” the ambassador said in a statement on Sunday, adding that Pakistan was seeking clarifications from the United States regarding its rationale and implications.

He also said that the steps taken by the government for the protection of human rights and rights of religious freedom in Pakistan must be acknowledged.

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The US State Department made the announcement last week under the purview of the US Legislation on International Religious Freedom.

“It is, however, important to acknowledge that Pakistan is firmly committed to promotion and protection of human rights including the right to religious freedom, under its Constitution,” the ambassador said.

Chaudhry underscored wide-ranging legislative, institutional and administrative measures taken by the government of Pakistan which were geared to ensuring full coverage of guarantees afforded by the Constitution.

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He said that the international community was well aware of incremental steps being taken by Pakistan that had brought about positive change on the ground.

“We will continue to work with the international community with a view to ensure that internationally agreed standards on religious freedom are observed in Pakistan and the broader region,” he maintained.

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