Pakistan rejects US report on religious freedom

Last Updated 25 December 2019, 03:40 IST

Pakistan on Tuesday denounced the US for placing it on a list of countries violating religious freedoms, calling the move "unilateral and arbitrary".

The US has re-designated Pakistan and China among seven other countries that are of particular concern for violation of religious freedom, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday.

Pakistan and China along with Myanmar, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan were placed in the list for having engaged in or tolerated “systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom."

The Foreign Office condemned the move, saying it was not only detached from ground realities of Pakistan but also raised questions about the credibility and transparency of the entire exercise.

“The designation is reflective of selective targeting of countries and thus unlikely to be helpful to the professed cause of advancing religious freedom,” it said.

The Foreign Office said Pakistan is a multi-religious and pluralistic country where people of all faiths enjoy religious freedom under constitutional protections and concerted efforts were made to ensure that all citizens of Pakistan profess and practice their religion in full freedom.

It said Pakistan was also engaged with the international community, including the US for better understanding on religious freedom issues and regretted that constructive engagement were overlooked.

Pakistan also said that challenges to religious freedom were a global concern and only cooperative efforts could help address them.

The FO said Pakistan also raised concerns over growing trend of Islamophobia in many Western countries including the US. “Working together in an environment of trust and understanding is the best way forward in realizing the objective of promoting and protecting religious freedom,” it said.

(Published 25 December 2019, 03:40 IST)

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