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‘Arbitrary, selective’: Pakistan slams US designation on religious freedom

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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs. — Twitter/Files

The Foreign Office has rejected the United States' arbitrary and selective assessment under a US domestic legislation on religious freedom, a statement said Wednesday.

The US had placed Pakistan, China, and a few other countries on a list of countries that are engaging in or tolerating “systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom,” according to a statement from United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday.

"The United States is designating Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, Nigeria, the DPRK, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan as Countries of Particular Concern under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, as amended, for engaging in or tolerating systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom," the statement from Pompeo said.

Reacting strongly to the development, the Foreign Office said that Pakistan's designation as a “country of particular concern” is completely against realities on the ground and raises serious doubts about the credibility of the exercise.

'Subjective designations'

"Such subjective designations do not contribute towards promoting the cause of religious freedom worldwide," the statement said.

Pakistan and the US have been constructively engaging on the subject at the bilateral level, a fact regrettably overlooked by the US, the statement lamented.

Highlighting that the Pakistani society is multi-religious and pluralistic with a rich tradition of inter-faith harmony, the statement said that religious freedom and protection of the rights of minorities are guaranteed in the country.

Indian atrocities

"The glaring omission of India, where the RSS-BJP regime and their leaders openly disregard religious freedom and discriminate against minority communities in an institutionalised manner, is unfortunate and puts the credibility of the US report into question," the statement noted.

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The Foreign Office, reminding the US of the crimes being committed against Muslims in India, said that state's complicity in organised violence against minorities in India is on record.

"It is no secret that attacks by cow vigilantes and mob lynchings of Indian Muslims take place regularly, with complete impunity for the perpetrators," the statement said.

Systematic demonization, dispossession, marginalisation and targeted violence against Muslims using the communal slur of “love jihad” in Hindutva-inspired India has become commonplace, it noted.

Islamophobia requires global efforts

The Foreign Office deplored that the US State Department had ignored the findings of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, as well as the US Congressional hearings on the maltreatment of minorities in India and the violation of religious freedom all over the country.

"We believe the redressal of the rising trend of intolerance, discrimination, xenophobia, and Islamophobia requires global efforts based on the principles of cooperation and mutual understanding. Pakistan is sincerely playing its part in this endeavour and will continue to do so," it added.


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