Courtesy: Pakistan on Monday “categorically rejected” its designation as a “Country of Particular Concern (CPC)” by the US State Department under the International Religious Freedom Act.
On January 4, a press release from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on religious freedom designations categorised Pakistan, along with China, Cuba, North Korea, Eritrea, Iran, Nicaragua, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan, as a CPC for “having engaged in or tolerated particularly severe violations of religious freedom”.
Reacting to the designation, the Foreign Office (FO) today issued a press release, saying it was “deeply dismayed” that the categorisation was based on “biased and arbitrary assessment” and was “detached from ground realities”.
It added that Pakistan was a “pluralistic country, with a rich tradition of interfaith harmony”, further saying that the country had undertaken “wide-ranging measures to promote religious freedom and protect minority rights” in accordance with its Constitution.
“We note with deep concern that India, the biggest and serial violator of religious freedom, has once again been excluded from the US State Department’s designation list.
“This is despite clear recommendation by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, as well as public concerns raised by international human rights constituencies, about India’s maltreatment of religious minorities. This conspicuous omission raises serious questions about the credibility, transparency and objectivity of the entire process,” the FO said.
The FO said it was convinced that such “discriminatory, unilateral and subjective exercises” were counterproductive and undermined the shared objective of the US and Pakistan to advance religious freedom globally.
“Pakistan strongly believes that the contemporary challenge of religious intolerance, xenophobia and Islamophobia can be best countered through constructive engagement and collective efforts based on mutual understanding and respect.
“With a similar spirit, Pakistan has bilaterally engaged US. Pakistan’s concern about the designation is being conveyed to the US side,” the FO concluded.