WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken on Wednesday redesignated Pakistan as a country of particular concern (CPC) for violating religious freedom and also rebranded the Taliban as an entity of particular concern.
The Trump administration first placed Pakistan on this list in December 2018 and retained it in 2020 as well. The Biden administration, which came to power in January this year, has retained the old list with two changes, adding Russia and removing Sudan from the CPC category.
Countries are listed in this category for allegedly engaging in or tolerating “systematic, ongoing, (and) egregious violations of religious freedom”.
“I am designating Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, the DPRK, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan as Countries of Particular Concern for having engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom,” Secretary Blinken said in a statement issued by his office.
“I am also placing Algeria, Comoros, Cuba, and Nicaragua on a Special Watch List for governments that have engaged in or tolerated severe violations of religious freedom,” he added.
Secretary Blinken also designated al-Shabab, Boko Haram, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the Houthis, ISIS, ISIS-Greater Sahara, ISIS-West Africa, Jamaat Nasr al-Islam wal-Muslimin, and the Taliban as Entities of Particular Concern.
Each year the Secretary of State identifies governments and non-state actors, who, he believes, merit designation under the US International Religious Freedom Act.
“We will continue to press all governments to remedy shortcomings in their laws and practices and to promote accountability for those responsible for abuses,” Mr Blinken said.
Published in Dawn, November 18th, 2021