US adds Pakistan to blacklist for 'religious freedom violations'

Published: December 11, 2018
A file photo of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. PHOTO: REUTERS

A file photo of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON: The United States said Tuesday it has added Pakistan to its blacklist of countries that violate religious freedom, ramping up pressure over its treatment of minorities.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he had designated Pakistan among “countries of particular concern” in a congressionally mandated annual report, meaning the US government is obliged to exert pressure to end freedom violations.

Pompeo a year earlier had placed Pakistan on a special watch list — a step short of the designation — in what had been seen as a US tactic to press Islamabad into reforms.

Pakistan does not deserve ‘even a dollar’ in US aid: Haley

But the timing of the full designation may be jarring as it comes after Pakistan moved to resolve its most high-profile case, with the Supreme Court in October releasing Asia Bibi — a Christian woman on death row for eight years for blasphemy.

The government recently charged a hardline cleric, Khadim Hussain Rizvi, with terrorism and sedition after he led violent protests against Bibi’s acquittal.

“In far too many places across the globe, individuals continue to face harassment, arrests or even death for simply living their lives in accordance with their beliefs,” Pompeo said in a statement.

“The United States will not stand by as spectators in the face of such oppression,” he said.

Nine countries remained for another year on the list of Countries of Particular Concern — China, Eritrea, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

The United States removed one country from the list — Uzbekistan — but kept it on the watch list.

Pompeo also put on the watch list Russia, adding another item of contention to the relationship between the two powers.

Russia has increasingly drawn concern in the United States over its treatment of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the heterodox Christian group known for proselytization.

Also on the watch list was the Comoros, the Indian Ocean archipelago that is almost exclusively Sunni Muslim


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Reader Comments (4)

  • Chacha Jee
    Dec 12, 2018 - 5:56AM

    Try building a new Mosque or a Muslim cemetery in USA in any neighborhood in any State and you will find out how much religious freedom is in USA. Pompeo’s Republican Party is trying to remove a medical doctor office bearer of their party in Taxes State because he is a Pakistani Muslim. And how about blanket Muslim ban imposed in USA which even US Supreme Court has legally stamped and approvedRecommend

  • mushtaq
    Dec 12, 2018 - 6:17AM

    Where is Modi’s India,Trump’s US and Israel?Is it April the first or joke of the year 2018?Recommend

  • Nikki Khan
    Dec 12, 2018 - 7:20AM

    Why India is exempted ?

    Indian Society is more violent and extremists. minority is not safe in India
    Minority cannot be allowed to make fun of other faithRecommend

  • Concerned
    Dec 12, 2018 - 9:21AM

    Eagerly awaiting FATF ruling !!Recommend

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