WASHINGTON / ISLAMABAD: The US State Department emphatically declared on Thursday that there’s ‘absolutely no’ undercurrent of discord between the United States and Pakistan, despite recent sanctions imposed on companies allegedly supplying missile components to Islamabad.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Office on Thursday dismissed the assessment of Pakistan’s human rights situation in the recently launched US State Department’s Human Rights Report as “unfair and politically motivated” and criticised it for lacking objectivity.

“Pakistan continues to be one of our most important partners in the region,” Principal Deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said, addressing concerns about potential tensions arising from the sanctions, during the daily news briefing.

Responding to queries, Patel said: “There continues to be a lot of cooperation that we have with the government of Pakistan, especially in the security space and trade sector.”

Foreign Office dismisses US report on human rights situation in Pakistan

He recalled that the Pakistani finance minister was in Washington last week and held consultations with members of the State Department. “This is a robust relationship, and we look to continue strengthening it,” he added.

Last week, the Biden administration imposed sanctions on three Chinese and one Belarusian companies for allegedly supplying dual-use components for Pakistan’s missile programme, a charge Islamabad rejected as incorrect.

However, on Tuesday, Patel clarified during his daily briefing that the sanctions were imposed because these entities were “proliferators of weapons of mass destruction and the means of their delivery”.

He said that on October 23, the United States had also designated three Chinese entities for allegedly supplying components to Pakistan’s missile programme.

“We’re going to continue to disrupt and take actions against proliferation networks and concerning weapons of mass destruction procurement activities wherever they may occur,” he declared.

FO rejects US report

The 2023 US Human Rights Report on Pakistan underscored a concerning status quo in human rights violations, with no notable improvements. The report alleged a range of serious issues, including unlawful killings, enforced disappearances, torture, harsh prison conditions, arbitrary arrests and a lack of fair public trials, all indicative of a broader culture of impunity.

In its response on Thursday, the Foreign Office said: “The US State Department’s annual exercises of preparing such unsolicited reports lack objectivity and remain inherently flawed in their methodology. These reports use domestic social lens to judge human rights in other countries in a politically biased manner.”

The report alleges that government forces were frequently implicated in abuses, along with severe restrictions on freedoms of expression, assembly, and media — manifested through censorship and violence against journalists.

The FO criticised the report for exhibiting double standards, arguing that such attitude undermined the discourse on international human rights.

“It is deeply concerning that a report purported to highlight human rights situations around the world ignores or downplays the most urgent hotspots of gross human rights violations such as in Gaza and Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir,” the FO stated, emphasising that only a report with political motivations could neglect the grave conditions in Gaza, including the weaponisation of humanitarian aid and the killing of over 33,000 civilians.

Published in Dawn, April 26th, 2024

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