Pakistan rejects 'arbitrary and selective' US designation on religious freedom blacklist

Published December 9, 2020
The Foreign Office on Wednesday rejected the United States [designation][1] of Pakistan among "countries of part­ic­ular concern" (CPC) under its International Religious Freedom Act, terming it an "arbitrary and selective assessment". — Photo courtesy Radio Pak/File
The Foreign Office on Wednesday rejected the United States [designation][1] of Pakistan among "countries of part­ic­ular concern" (CPC) under its International Religious Freedom Act, terming it an "arbitrary and selective assessment". — Photo courtesy Radio Pak/File

The Foreign Office on Wednesday rejected the United States' designation of Pakistan among "countries of part­ic­ular concern" (CPC) under its International Religious Freedom Act, terming it an "arbitrary and selective assessment".

In a statement, the FO said the designation was "completely against the realities on the ground" and raised doubts about the credibility of the process, citing the "glaring omission of India" from the blacklist. Such subjective designations do not contribute towards promoting the cause of religious freedom worldwide, it added.

It also regretted that the United States had overlooked the "fact that Pakistan and the US have been constructively engaging on the subject at the bilateral level".

A day earlier, Secre­t­a­ry of State Michael Pompeo announced that the US had designated Pakis­tan, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turk­m­enistan, Nigeria, Nor­th Korea, Myanmar and Eritrea as CPCs, accusing them of engaging in or tolerating "systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom".

The commission’s 2020 report noted that religious freedom conditions across Pakistan had continued to trend negatively.

"The systematic enforcement of blasphemy and anti-Ahmadia laws, and authorities' failure to address forced conversions of religious minorities — including Hindus, Christians, and Sikhs — to Islam, severely restricted freedom of religion or belief," it added.

The report noted that nearly 80 individuals remained imprisoned for blasphemy in Pakistan, with at least half facing a life sentence or death.

The report, however, acknowledged that last year, they also noted "some high-profile acquittals" in Pakistan.

In its statement today, the FO said that "Pakistani society is multi-religious and pluralistic with a rich tradition of inter-faith harmony".

"Religious freedom and the protection of the rights of minorities are guaranteed by our Constitution and ensured through a range of legislative, policy and administrative measures," it stressed.

Omission of India

The Foreign Office noted that the report ignored the violations of religious freedom in India under the current government, saying that "state complicity in organised violence against the Muslim minority in India" was a matter of record.

Editorial: Is the world community willing to censure India for persecuting its Muslims?

"The glaring omission of India, where the RSS-BJP regime and their leaders openly disregard religious freedom and discriminate against minority communities in an institutionalised manner, is unfortunate and puts the credibility of the US report into question.

"It is no secret that attacks by cow vigilantes and mob lynchings of Indian Muslims take place regularly, with complete impunity for the perpetrators. Systematic demonisation, dispossession, marginalisation and targeted violence against Muslims using the communal slur of 'love jihad' in Hindutva-inspired India has become commonplace," the statement said.

"The findings and recommendations of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, as well as the US Congressional hearings on the maltreatment of minorities in India and the violation of religious freedom all over the country including in the Muslim-majority Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) were ignored by the US State Department," the FO noted.

It said that Pakistan's stance on the matter had been conveyed to the US.

Pakistan "believes the redressal of the rising trend of intolerance, discrimination, xenophobia and Islamophobia requires global efforts based on the principles of cooperation and mutual understanding", the statement said, adding that the country was playing its part in the effort.

Opinion

A state of chaos

A state of chaos

The establishment’s increasingly intrusive role has further diminished the credibility of the political dispensation.

Editorial

Bulldozed bill
Updated 22 May, 2024

Bulldozed bill

Where once the party was championing the people and their voices, it is now devising new means to silence them.
Out of the abyss
22 May, 2024

Out of the abyss

ENFORCED disappearances remain a persistent blight on fundamental human rights in the country. Recent exchanges...
Holding Israel accountable
22 May, 2024

Holding Israel accountable

ALTHOUGH the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor wants arrest warrants to be issued for Israel’s prime...
Iranian tragedy
Updated 21 May, 2024

Iranian tragedy

Due to Iran’s regional and geopolitical influence, the world will be watching the power transition carefully.
Circular debt woes
21 May, 2024

Circular debt woes

THE alleged corruption and ineptitude of the country’s power bureaucracy is proving very costly. New official data...
Reproductive health
21 May, 2024

Reproductive health

IT is naïve to imagine that reproductive healthcare counts in Pakistan, where women from low-income groups and ...