Pak violator of minority religious freedom: US

New Delhi, Dec 25  Even as Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has been campaigning around the world to project India as intolerant of religious minorities, it is Pakistan along with Saudi Arabia, Iran and China that have been redesignated by the US as countries which systematically engage in or tolerate “egregious violations of religious freedom.”

As per an official statement, the US State Department on December 18 designated Myanmar, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan as ‘Countries of Particular Concern’ under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 for having engaged in or tolerated “systematic, ongoing, (and) egregious violations of religious freedom.”

Washington can penalise the violators under the Act by imposing economic sanctions.

Renewing the placement of Comoros, Russia, and Uzbekistan on a Special Watch List (SWL) for governments that have engaged in or tolerated “severe violations of religious freedom,” the US added Cuba, Nicaragua, Nigeria, and Sudan to the list.

Earlier this month, the US also designated 68 individuals and entities in nine countries for corruption and human rights abuses under the Global Magnitsky Act. Four among them were Burmese military leaders responsible for serious human rights abuses against Rohingya Muslims and other religious and ethnic minorities.

In October, the US placed visa restrictions on Chinese government and Communist Party officials responsible for, or complicit in, the detention or abuse of Uighurs, Kazakhs, or other members of Muslim minority groups in Xinjiang, China.

The department headed by Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo also designated al-Nusra Front, al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula, al-Qa’ida, al-Shabab, Boko Haram, the Houthis, ISIS, ISIS-Khorasan, and the Taliban as ‘Entities of Particular Concern’.

A statement issued by Islamabad’s Foreign Office on Tuesday complained against the “conspicuous omission” of India from the list, saying it reflected the “subjectivity and bias” of the US State Department’s designations.

Without any references to religious persecution of Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and atheists in Pakistan, the Khan government went on to criticise India’s revocation of special status of Jammu & Kashmir, adoption of Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and intention to compile a National Register of Citizens.

Pakistan projected India’s legislation as discrimination against Muslims.