This Article is From Jan 08, 2024

US Designates China, Pakistan As "Countries of Particular Concern"

In Islamabad, Pakistan Foreign Office on Monday rejected what it called the "biased" assessment by the US to designate it a 'country of particular concern'.

US Designates China, Pakistan As 'Countries of Particular Concern'

Pakistan called it "biased" assessment by the US.

New York/Islamabad:

The US has designated China, North Korea, and Pakistan as "Countries of Particular Concern" for engaging in and tolerating "particularly severe violations of religious freedom." Announcing the Religious Freedom Designations, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that advancing the freedom of religion or belief has been a core objective of US foreign policy ever since Congress passed and enacted the International Religious Freedom Act in 1998.

As part of that "enduring commitment", Blinken said last week that he has designated Burma, China, Cuba, North Korea, Eritrea, Iran, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan as "Countries of Particular Concern for having engaged in or tolerated particularly severe violations of religious freedom."

In Islamabad, Pakistan Foreign Office on Monday rejected what it called the "biased" assessment by the US to designate it a 'country of particular concern'.

According to a statement by the Foreign Office, Pakistan is a pluralistic country, with a rich tradition of interfaith harmony and it in line with its Constitution has undertaken wide-ranging measures to promote religious freedom and protect minority rights.

"We categorically reject Pakistan's designation as a Country of Particular Concern' by the US State Department. We are deeply dismayed that the designation is based on biased and arbitrary assessment, detached from ground realities," the Foreign Office said.

It said that 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 the US and its concerns about the designation are being conveyed to the US side, the Foreign Office added.

Blinken also designated Algeria, Azerbaijan, the Central African Republic, Comoros, and Vietnam as Special Watch List countries for engaging in or tolerating severe violations of religious freedom.

He designated al-Shabab, Boko Haram, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the Houthis, ISIS-Sahel, ISIS-West Africa, al-Qa'ida affiliate Jamaat Nasr al-Islam wal-Muslimin, and the Taliban as "Entities of Particular Concern." The top US diplomat further noted that significant violations of religious freedom also occur in countries that are not designated.

"Governments must end abuses such as attacks on members of religious minority communities and their places of worship, communal violence and lengthy imprisonment for peaceful expression, transnational repression, and calls to violence against religious communities, among other violations that occur in too many places around the world," Blinken said.

He added that the challenges to religious freedom across the globe are structural, systemic, and deeply entrenched. "But with thoughtful, sustained commitment from those who are unwilling to accept hatred, intolerance, and persecution as the status quo we will one day see a world where all people live with dignity and equality," Blinken said.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)