Pak questions US on India’s exclusion from religious freedom blacklist

Islamabad: Pakistan on Thursday took strong exception to the US’ recent decision to add the country to its religious freedom blacklist and exclude India from it, saying the decision is “detached from ground realities of Pakistan”.

In a statement attributed to Foreign Office (FO) spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, it was highlighted that Pakistan has a “multi-religious and pluralistic society with a rich tradition of inter-faith harmony”, The News reported.

Last week, the US added Pakistan, China, Cuba and Nicaragua, among others, to a blacklist — Countries of Particular Concern from 2021 — on international religious freedom, opening the path to potential sanctions.

The FO spokesperson expressed “deep concern and disappointment” on what she called the US State Department’s “unilateral and arbitrary” designation of Pakistan to the blacklist.

Calling India the “biggest violator of religious freedom”, she questioned why the country was excluded from the blacklist despite a “clear recommendation” by the USCIRF, The News reported.

She said the “conspicuous omission” raises serious questions about the credibility and transparency of the entire process and makes it a subjective and discriminatory exercise, The News reported.

“International concerns over India’s treatment of religious minorities have been the subject of several hearings of the US Congress and reports of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Special Procedure Mandate Holders of the UN Human Rights Council, and reputed international NGOs,” the FO spokesperson highlighted.

She said we have conveyed our concerns to the US government regarding this designation.


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