USA religious-freedom watchlist: Pakistan included as 'country of particular concern'

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The designations were made on December 22, it said. The State Department says that the designation is annually made as a way to encourage other countries to join the USA in "upholding high but universal standards".

The countries of Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan were labeled as "Countries of Particular Concern" (CPC) in the State Department's report.

Pakistan was added to the list under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 last month, with the announcement citing the country's "severe violations of religious freedom".

The law was passed during the Clinton administration as part of an effort to make religious freedom a key objective of USA foreign policy.

Annually, the secretary of state designates governments that have engaged in or tolerated ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom.

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The FO said Pakistan will continue to work with the worldwide community to ensure that internationally agreed standards on religious freedom are observed in Pakistan and the broader region.

Pakistan is ready to face any USA action, the country's defense minister and the army spokesman said. "The U.S. should never shrink from calling out countries for such abuses", Royce said.

"Human rights organizations, worldwide journalists, as well as governments and their embassies can assist the cause of Iranian freedom and self-determination by documenting and publicizing human rights offenses -detentions, beatings, murders - committed by the Tehran authorities against peaceful protesters", they wrote.

There's also no doubt that Pakistan belongs on the violators of religious freedom Special Watch List. or even the CPC.

One of the most respected experts on Pakistan is Farahnaz Ispahani.

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"That said, Pakistan has not been a great place for other religious minorities and there has been consistent targeting of minorities", Gopalaswamy said.

"This placement on special watch list is a new categorisation and we would be seeking clarification from the U.S. regarding its rationale and implications", a statement from Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

In any case, as with all previous Administrations since IRFA came on the scene, the real test will be to see what the State Department will do to back up these designations with actions.

CP VOICES do not necessarily reflect the views of The Christian Post.

The signees also urged journalists, human rights organizations, embassies and other government authorities to document cases of human rights violations in Iran so as to build awareness and increase worldwide pressure for reforms.

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